How to get 5-star guest experience in your Airbnb and what to do when you don’t

Getting 5-star reviews from your guests always feels good. You know your efforts have paid off and all those extra touches are appreciated. Giving guests a satisfying experience not only means having those nice things they said about your property displayed on your listing, but it also means those guests may return and spread the word about your Airbnb.

They can also help you secure more bookings in the future when those looking at your listing find stellar reviews. Here are some tips on what you can do to ensure you get those 5-star reviews stay after stay.

Keep communication lines open

Your property may have the best amenities, features and location, but guests can still have trouble when a host does not communicate with them in a friendly and timely manner. They could be asking where you keep your extra towels, cutlery in the kitchen or perhaps guests have locked themselves out. No guest wants to be kept waiting for an unreasonable amount of time for a simple response. When they also have some questions regarding the accommodation, be sure you are ready to answer as the Airbnb business is not just all about the property, but about hosting and offering an experience as well.

Set realistic expectations

In your listing, be upfront about the inclusions and exclusions of your property. If it’s a 20-minute drive away from the nearest bus station, don’t say that it is within walking distance from your property. If your courtyard is not that big, be honest that the outdoor space is intimate and great for small groups instead of describing it as grand and spacious. Most reasonable folks who know what they signed up for won’t have any issues because they know what to expect before booking your property.

Take care of maintenance issues

If your wi-fi has been unstable or your water heater hasn’t been doing its job lately, fix these issues before accepting any bookings from new guests. While it might be tempting to accept bookings and address these issues later on guests will take notice and these issues could come back to haunt you when they leave their reviews. Bad reviews linger on your Airbnb listing for a longer time than it takes to fix the maintenance issue.

How to handle bad ones

Even when you’ve done your homework and made sure everything is prepared for your guests, you may still hit a snag and receive some poor reviews. It happens even to the best and most luxurious hotels and Airbnbs are no exception. That’s just business. What’s important is how you handle these bad reviews and sometimes, even turn them into marketing opportunities. Here are some of the things you can do to handle these reviews gracefully.

Step 1: Examine 

Take a hard look at what your guest is really saying before you reply hastily to bad reviews. Is there some truth to it? Place yourself in their shoes and see where they are coming from. While you may be used to your apartment and think that the very small stain on the carpet is no big deal, take a look at it from an outsider’s perspective who might not know the history of your property. Slowing down and processing the review will help you be more emphatic and be less on the defence. Most guests are leaving these bad reviews because of the experience they had so try not to take it too personally.

Step 2: Apologise

If you’ve ever heard the old saying “the customer is always right”, then you know where this second point is leading. Sure, you might think that it’s unfair of them to nitpick the way they did but if the reviews are public, you know that potential guests can see how you communicate with those who have stayed on your property. You want to leave the impression that you are professional and bad reviews are something that you can handle with ease. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t explain your side, which leads us to our next point.

Step 3: Responding to the issues

The key in addressing the root of the complaint is not to prove that the guest was wrong but to let them know that their complaints have been heard and you are doing everything you can to resolve the issue if you haven’t already. Not only will you demonstrate to potential guests that the problem has been fixed and will no longer be a bother for future stays, but you are also acknowledging what has been called out by the guest who left the review. Sometimes, a really good response can be the way to clear out any misunderstandings and could even place you in a positive light to those who are reading these reviews.

Step 4: Avoid over explaining

While it’s good to apologise, acknowledge the issue, and let them know what has been done to resolve it, over-explaining can do more harm than good. Over-explaining can be seen as going on the defensive, especially if you find that your response is already too wordy. Try to look at your past responses. If this particular response seems longer than your usual, shorten it a bit to make sure that you don’t come off as someone who is justifying a fault.

Step 5: Move on and do better

In Airbnb, just like in life, you can’t aim to please everyone. All you can do is try your best and to learn from your mistakes. Isolated incidents can and do happen even to the best Super Hosts but what separates them from the rest is how they offer to understand and make amends. Use the bad reviews to your advantage and think of it as feedback for improvement. After all, once these weak areas have been exposed and properly fixed, all that’s left are the good qualities of your property and how you manage it and this will only lead to more 5-star reviews.

In short, we like to stick to a simple rule: Apologise once and then tell the guest how you’re planning on resolving the issue. Most guests don’t care about how the issue happened; they care about how it will be resolved to make future stays 5-star worthy. 

Kieran O'Neill
Kieran O'Neill
Kieran O’Neill is the Co-Founder and CFO of Hometime based throughout Australia and New Zealand. Hometime specialises in Airbnb property management by partnering local Hosts with homeowners and services in their regions. Find out more about Hometime on their website:
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