I’ve been staying at Airbnb rentals for the last year or two almost every night while traveling the world. This means I read a lot of Airbnb reviews and also experience several different Airbnb listings every month.
That makes me privy to knowing firsthand the most common complaints that Airbnb guests make, and I’ll even add a few to the list myself.
Avoiding negative reviews on Airbnb is not as difficult as it might seem. If you can cross the following potential issues off your list, you will supercharge your Airbnb listing, improve and increase reviews, and make more money as a result.
As for my qualifications: I’ve probably lived in more cities around the world than most people have ever visited and I created a website dedicated to helping restaurant and hospitality workers make more money in tips, after freeing myself from the 9 to 5 grind myself.
Avoid These Top Airbnb Guest Complaints
1. Cleanliness and hygiene issues – This is by far the biggest one. From smells and odors to unwashed things like sheets or pillows, let’s face it- no one wants to live or sleep in someone else’s dirty home. This means professionally cleaning your property yourself or with a cleaning service to get near hotel standards, which travelers expect these days considering all the options and availability of online booking.
I once found some sheets in a hall closet at an Airbnb listing in Latvia that had been peed on and never washed. The furniture was so old that it had the smell of body oil permanently engrained. In the refrigerator upon a high out-of-sight shelf was a balled up napkin with some salami in it. I lasted 2 days and cut my stay short!
2. Wi-Fi – Many people like myself work from their laptop computer while traveling. This means if you don’t have reliably Wi-Fi service, you need to get it right now before you even think about listing your 2nd apartment or home on Airbnb. Your review section will be fullof complaints of weak Wifi signal which is a clear tell that you are not concerned about your guest’s experience, or ability to make a living.
3. Poor communication with guests – This could be anywhere from not communicating enough and causing an inconvenient or awkward check-in to over-communicating and coming off like a neurotic ex-lover just checking up on someone. Either way, there’s a fine balance between saying too much or too little. Demanding guests communicate through Whatsapp or other text apps is not always app-propriate in any case, and Airbnb encourages hosts and guests to communicate via Airbnb so that a disinterested 3rd party can ensure professionalism and protocol are being observed.
4. A Lack of amenities – Not having enough clean towels, greeting your guest with a half roll of toilet paper, no sharp knives for food preparation or no knife at all, are all examples of your listing failing to make the grade. Airbnb has even asked me as a customer several times if listings had salt, pepper and cooking oil available. That tells me that Airbnb cares about a guest’s ability to cook without having to spring for and lug around a bottle of cooking oil at every place they stay. Those daily vegetable oil costs really add up for travelers when you think about it.
5. Misleading listing or photos – Only showing the best photos or carefully crafted camera angles can lead to some disappointment when the guest arrives and experiences reality. I’m pretty easy going myself. I usually don’t expect everything to work perfectly or be perfect, but when major appliances don’t work or the listing says the apartment is really warm and it’s actually quite cold, you can’t help but feel a little bamboozled as a customer.
Consider this Airbnb customer which paid around $2,000 for a 3-night stay in Palm Springs only to discover the pool and spa didn’t work– and still didn’t work after the host sent out a maintenance crew. This tells me the owner likely knew their property had issues to begin with, but they were just in it for the quick buck while away from their vacation home.
6. Stop begging for reviews – Your customers and guests aren’t stupid. They’ll leave a review if they feel you’ve earned one. The best practices for getting reviews without seeming pushy or oblivious would be to take care of the basics first, always considering that your guest is not just a customer- they’re a human being like you. How would you like to be treated? If your unit is very clean and accurate, you communicate sufficiently and everything works, then you’re already halfway there.
Not everyone leaves a review, and that’s ok too. You should create an exceptional experience that will make people want to leave you a review. Leaving a free beer in the refrigerator or small bottle of wine, especially for guests staying multiple days or weeks, can go a long way for getting good reviews, and consider the tiny amount of money it set you back.
Final Word on Avoiding Negative Airbnb Reviews
Many Airbnb hosts do not have a customer service or hospitality background and view the guest as a quick buck. With this attitude it’s easy to see why there are so many bad reviews left against seemingly clueless hosts on the site.
Running an Airbnb listing is no different from running a standard business, hotel or restaurant and you should treat every guest with your very best. This starts with the basics first and then optimizing the guest experience with a few highlights and added plusses.
Hosts: View your Airbnb customers as guests to improve their experience, and your income
This small change in your psychology will help you to advance your earnings which is what you really want, of course. But just like any amazing fine dining restaurant or 5-Star hotel, you’ve always got to be guest-centric. Simply asking your customer several times “Is everything ok?” is not going to cut it.
Most people will just tell you what you want to hear to avoid the drama anyway.
After all, they’re on vacation.
About the author: Patrick Warren is an American veteran and entrepreneur that has been traveling the world for over 4 years straight. He recently wrote a book about his experience while hiking 800 consecutive kilometers on foot down the Adriatic Coast during the late summer and autumn of 2020, rucking with a load of over 30kg/60+ pounds and sleeping off-grid in a tent most of the way.
He has his own online business, a BA in political science and a certificate in studio music production, with his music being featured on MTV and television in the UK. In his spare time he likes going on 15 km/9-mile runs, cooking and making a fine sauce, and avoiding most of society’s drama.
For inquiries and contact info for Patrick click here