Why are Airbnb reviews important?

From the very beginning, Airbnb was a platform built on reviews. Despite being launched in the same year as the original iPhone, Airbnb remains an entirely unique OTA.

With anyone able to invite anyone to stay in their home, Airbnb’s founders identified the need to build a trusted community of users. Reviews soon formed the foundation of this community – guests would review hosts, hosts would review guests, and those who didn’t meet expectations would struggle to attract guests and book stays.

Where other online travel agencies (OTAs) will offer up a hotel star rating for each listing that is awarded by an independent organisation, on Airbnb, the guest rating is the only number that gives users a sense of the quality of the stay. It’s a core part of how Airbnb reviews work.

Where more traditional OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com work to facilitate transactions between consumer (guest) and business (hotel), Airbnb has always taken a more personal approach, seeing each member of the community as an individual.

Airbnb also has rather high standards in comparison to other OTAs. To be a Superhost you need to achieve a rating of over 4.8 stars, and the average Airbnb rating is 4.7. This means that a property with a rating lower than 4.5 stars – an amazing score on any other platform – can ring alarm bells with some users.

The upshot is that reviews – whether Airbnb reviews for guests or Airbnb hosting reviews – are more important on this platform than almost any other. And how you respond to your Airbnb reviews can have an outsized effect on your success on the platform.

There’s simply no way to understate the importance of reviews on Airbnb, which is why your response to a review, particularly one that is mixed or outright negative, can have a huge impact on your success on the platform.

In this article, we’ll look at how to respond to your Airbnb reviews as a host in the most effective and beneficial way possible: one that minimises negatives and maximises positives.

Why hosts should consistently respond to Airbnb host reviews

By responding to your Airbnb customer reviews, whether positive, negative or mixed, you better establish yourself within the Airbnb community. On top of granting you the right of reply, a response gives users real insight into who you are and how you treat your guests.

Imagine reading a negative review that seems to raise fair criticisms, only to see an Airbnb host review response that is defensive or outright aggressive. It would lead you to question both the quality of the stay and the attitude of the owner.

Now imagine reading a similarly negative guest review with a reply that thanked the reviewer, apologised where appropriate, offered a solution and invited the guest back. This sort of review shows maturity, a desire for growth and genuine care for guests, and can lead to more bookings despite the negativity of the review.

Responding to reviews is also just good for business. A study by one of the world’s leading metasearch engines found that hotels are 21% more likely to receive booking inquiries when they respond to reviews, and that the more review responses a hotel offered up, the higher its rating tended to be, and the more bookings it received as a result.

Airbnb reviews policies every host should know

Airbnb’s review policy plays a crucial role in promoting transparency and trust within its community of hosts and guests. It encourages genuine, impartial, and beneficial feedback, providing valuable insights for decision-making and improvement. Here are the essential aspects of Airbnb’s review policy that every hotelier should know:

  1. The Role of Reviews: Airbnb’s review system serves as a critical trust-building mechanism, facilitating informed choices about hosting and booking. Reviews are expected to be genuine, reliable, and beneficial for the entire Airbnb community.
  2. Impartiality of Reviews: Reviews should not show any bias. Attempts to threaten, bribe, or manipulate others to sway the content of a review are strictly forbidden. Reviews should not be traded for any kind of value such as discounts or refunds, and should only be related to an actual stay or experience. The system also prohibits false reservations for positive reviews, self-reviewing, or collaborating with others to game the review system. Biassed reviews against competing or affiliated listings are also not allowed.
  3. Relevance of Reviews: Reviews should share pertinent details of the reviewer’s actual experience with the host, guest, or property. Reviews from guests who never arrived or had to cancel their stay for reasons unrelated to the host or property may be subject to removal.
  4. Appropriate Content: Review content should adhere to Airbnb’s Content Policy and must not contain explicit, discriminatory, harmful, deceptive, or illegal content.
  5. Review Violations: Reviews that violate Airbnb’s policy may be reported and removed, along with associated ratings and content. Serious violations may lead to further actions such as account restrictions, suspension, or removal. The application of this policy might differ according to local laws and regulations.
  6. Responding to Reviews: Airbnb allows individuals to post responses to reviews within a 30-day period. It encourages users to share their authentic experiences and accurate information in reviews but does not typically mediate disputes about the veracity of reviews.
  7. Review Removal: If a user wishes to remove a review they have written, they can request its removal by contacting Airbnb.

Remember that these policies apply to both guest and host reviews. Ensure that you adhere to them in your reviews and your responses to guest reviews to ensure that you don’t get pinged by Airbnb.

How to write Airbnb guest reviews

In line with its focus on community, Airbnb makes reviewing and responding to reviews perfectly simple.

Both host and guest will be prompted to review one another three separate times in the fortnight following a stay. Once both parties have completed a review, or one party completes a review and that fortnight elapses, the reviews are published.

How to see your Airbnb reviews

Visibility of your Airbnb reviews via the Airbnb software is relatively straightforward, though new users may struggle to find it on first glance – there is no dedicated “Reviews” button in the main navigation.

To view and reply to a review simply follow these four basic steps:

  1. Navigate to your Hosting page and click on Insights > Reviews
  1. Scroll down to the relevant review and click “Read full review”
  1. Click on “Reply to [GUEST]”
  1. Write your response in the text box that appears below the review and click “Submit”

How to respond to negative Airbnb reviews

Responses to negative reviews, or mixed reviews with negative elements, should always be prioritised over responses to positive reviews. But how? The following template can prove helpful.

  1. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback.
  2. Highlight any positives that the reviewer may have mentioned.
  3. Address the negatives in a calm and objective way. If you’re at fault, accept responsibility, apologise, and follow up with either a solution or a request for more information. If you don’t feel you’re at fault, consider apologising that the guest feels that way, ask for more info, and explain your side in a humble, level-headed manner.
  4. Return to a positive where possible.
  5. Invite the guest back to demonstrate you’ve taken their feedback on board, and leave a name to show an individual has taken responsibility.

How to respond to positive Airbnb reviews

It’s less critical to respond to positive reviews, but if the review is particularly glowing or personalised it’s certainly worth doing. When responding to positive reviews:

  1. Make each review unique, as guests can easily identify cookie cutter responses, which can do your brand more harm than good. Refer to the guest by name, and note a few things they mentioned in their review.
  2. Where you should use ‘I’ when responding to negative reviews, as it shows an individual has taken responsibility, use ‘we’ in positive reviews, as it shows that this awesome stay was a team effort.
  3. Thank the guest for their review.

Good Airbnb reviews examples

Understanding how to respond to Airbnb reviews, both good and bad, is an essential skill for any hotelier. This collection provides examples of how to reply to an Airbnb review for a host, whether it’s glowing praise or constructive criticism.

Perfect in every way! ★★★★★

“We had an absolutely amazing time at this hotel. From the moment we arrived, the staff were welcoming, the room was spotlessly clean, and the views were breathtaking. The hotel’s location was perfect – close to all the local attractions. The breakfast was delicious with a wide range of options. Could not recommend this place highly enough!”

5-Star Review Response:

“Thank you so much for your wonderful review! We’re thrilled to hear that you had a fantastic stay with us, enjoyed our clean rooms, and found our location convenient for your sightseeing. We’re especially pleased that you loved our breakfast. Your recommendation means the world to us. We look forward to welcoming you back soon!”

Why this works: The hotelier acknowledges specific aspects of the guest’s positive experience, expressing appreciation for the guest’s high praise. By mirroring the guest’s enthusiasm, the hotelier shows gratitude and reinforces positive experiences for future stays.

Had a blast, but fix the internet ★★★★☆

“Very pleasant stay at this hotel. The rooms were clean and spacious, and the staff were generally friendly. Location was convenient for sightseeing. However, we found the Wi-Fi to be a bit patchy at times. Overall, still a great place to stay.”

4-Star Review Response:

“Thank you for your review. We’re glad to know you enjoyed your stay overall and found our location convenient. We apologise for any inconvenience caused due to the Wi-Fi issues you experienced. We’re addressing this with our technical team to prevent such occurrences in the future. We hope to have the opportunity to serve you better on your next visit.”

Why this works: The hotelier has acknowledged that the review is still good, but focuses on the issues, providing reassurances that the problems are being addressed. The response maintains a positive tone while acknowledging the guest’s experience.

Great location, bad noise issues ★★★☆☆

“The hotel was decent but did not quite meet our expectations. While the location was good and the staff were polite, our room was not as clean as we would have liked, and the noise from the road was quite disruptive at night. The food was average. It was not a bad stay, but there’s room for improvement.”

3-Star Review Response:

“Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I’m glad you found our location and staff to be good. However, I’m sorry to hear that other aspects of your stay did not meet your expectations. I take your comments about cleanliness and noise seriously and will use them to improve. I hope you’ll give us another chance to provide a more satisfying experience.”

Why this works: 3-star reviews are on the not-great side of bad, but they’re incredibly valuable for hoteliers looking for insights on improvement. This response acknowledges that, mentions the specifics (no cookie-cutter responses), and shows gratitude for the reviewer. This approach shows they value feedback and are committed to improving their service. Also, note the use of “I”, rather than we, showing personal accountability.

We won’t be back… ★★☆☆☆

“We were quite disappointed with our stay. The hotel’s location was its only saving grace. Our room was not cleaned properly upon arrival and the staff seemed disinterested when we raised our concerns. Sadly, we won’t be returning.”

2-Star Review Response:

“I appreciate your feedback and I’m truly sorry to hear about the issues you experienced during your stay. I’ve addressed your concerns about cleanliness with our team to ensure these are not repeated. We strive to provide a comfortable and pleasant stay for all our guests, and I’m sorry that we missed the mark this time. I hope we can welcome you back in the future for a more positive experience.”

Why this works: Gratitude and apology first – that order is important. This hotelier isn’t making excuses for the performance and isn’t promising to fix the issues in the future, but has explained they have addressed them already. That’s important for low-scoring reviews, as it sends the message to future guests that this experience won’t be repeated.

Stay away! ★☆☆☆☆

“Our stay was very disappointing. The room was in need of major updates, and it wasn’t as advertised, and worst of all, nobody seemed to care – even the hotel manager. We were very unhappy with the experience and will not be recommending this hotel.”

1-Star Review Response:

“I’m truly sorry to hear about your disappointing experience at our hotel. I take your feedback seriously and are addressing each issue you mentioned with my team. I’m in the process of actively reviewing the description of the room you stayed in, and plan to make updates to improve the experience as soon as possible. I hope to have an opportunity to better serve you in the future and demonstrate the high standards we strive for.”

Why this works: 1-star Airbnb reviews can be more common than 3-star or 2-star reviews; guests unhappy with their experience are more likely to be vocal about their experience, and are also more likely to score lower, hence the bias. In this response, the hotelier not only shows empathy and promises improvement, but what’s important is what isn’t there: defensiveness. 1-star reviews can feel unfair. The key is to ask for more information to address the issues you have doubts around, rather than fire back. It may also be worthwhile inviting the guest to respond via email or other private channel.

In each response, positive or negative, the key is to acknowledge the guest’s experience, express appreciation for their feedback, and, if necessary, address any issues raised. The goal is to leave every guest feeling heard and valued, and to demonstrate to future guests your commitment to their satisfaction.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).