Let’s face it, Airbnb reviews are simultaneously the best and worst part of hosting on Airbnb.
That’s because all the hard work you put into hosting can feel worthwhile when a guest leaves a glowing review.
And, well, a less-than-perfect review can make you wonder if you got into the right business in the first place.
Some lucky hosts have nothing but exceptional reviews. Others are struggling to get out of a streak of negative reviews. Most of us are somewhere in between.
No matter where you stand, the guide below can help you successfully handle negative Airbnb reviews.
Read on to understand Airbnb’s review system, the best way to respond to negative reviews, and how to successfully REMOVE reviews.
You can also jump straight to how to respond to negative reviews.
Note: All information referenced in this post is up to date as of 8/14/2022. For the most up-to-date information, please refer directly to specific web pages linked below.
Airbnb’s Review System
If you’re not familiar with Airbnb’s review system, here’s a quick overview:
After a guest checks out, both the host and guest will have 14 days to leave reviews for one another.
In their review, guests have the opportunity to provide hosts with written public feedback, written private feedback, and a 1- to 5-star rating in the following categories:
- Overall experience
In your review, hosts have the opportunity to provide guests with written public feedback, written private feedback, and a 1- to 5-star rating in the following categories:
- Observance of house rules
Your reviews become public 14 days after the guest checks out or when both the guest and host submit reviews, whichever comes sooner.
Therefore, neither person has to leave a review. If one person leaves a review and the other doesn’t, that review will become public 14 days after checkout.
Airbnb will periodically send notifications reminding you to leave a review after each reservation ends.
Why Airbnb Reviews Matter
I won’t spend too much time here because, as a customer, you’ve likely left reviews, read reviews, and made purchase decisions based on reviews. So, you know why they matter!
Reviews provide social proof from an unbiased third party. Reading Airbnb reviews is a potential guest’s opportunity to determine whether or not your listing is truly as great as you say it is.
Furthermore, responding to reviews shows that you’re communicative, thoughtful, and care about your guests’ experience.
In this post, we’ll talk all about how to respond to negative reviews. To maximize the benefit of ALL reviews, make sure to check out The Hands-Down Best Way to Respond to Airbnb Reviews, which covers how to respond to positive reviews.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Getting negative Airbnb reviews is tough. But, they’re bound to happen.
How you handle them is what matters.
And, negative reviews aren’t necessarily a bad thing!
The right response can actually help you build credibility and get more bookings.
That’s because responding to negative reviews is your opportunity to show that you care about every single guest having a fantastic stay.
Consider including the following in your public response to negative Airbnb reviews:
- Show (genuine) gratitude
- Find something that you genuinely appreciate about this guest and express that gratitude in your response
- For example, maybe they said something positive about your listing in their review. Or, maybe you’re appreciative that they took the time to provide constructive feedback
- Showing genuine gratitude reinforces all of the great things about staying with you
- Apologize for what the guest felt went wrong
- Notice my wording here – what they felt went wrong. It really doesn’t matter what did or didn’t actually happen. What matters is how your guest perceived the experience
- Share how you’re going to address the problem for future guests
- Remember, you’re running an operations business; things will inevitably go wrong
- So, showing that you’re working to prevent future issues can be enough to convince potential guests to book with you
“Hi [guest], we’re really glad that you enjoyed staying with us! We’re especially pleased that you found our condo to be warm, cozy, and in a great location. Thank you for your constructive feedback as well. We always strive to maintain the highest cleaning standards and we hope that the next time you stay with us, nothing could be better! :)”
And never, ever accuse your guest or tell them they’re wrong.
If you’re feeling too emotional to respond professionally, take a break before responding.
I can’t tell you how many responses I’ve read where an Airbnb host got defensive and actually accused the guest of causing the issue in the first place or just told them they were flat-out wrong.
As a host, there’s very little you can do when you get a negative review. Responding publicly is your one opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of that.
You want potential guests to know that if an issue does arise during their stay, you’ll do everything you can to fix it. (Not accuse them of doing something wrong.)
How to Remove Reviews
First and foremost, know that it’s very hard to get a review removed, deleted, or hidden.
Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of getting a review removed from your listing:
- Read Airbnb’s Review Policy very, very closely
- If the review violates their review policy, you might be able to get it removed by contacting Airbnb Support
- There are two ways to contact Airbnb Support:
- Submit a report through the Airbnb platform
- From there, you’ll message back and forth with an Airbnb Support representative
- Call one of their customer service numbers
- Airbnb technically has two customer service numbers for hosts: “local” and “toll-free”
- Based on my experience, there’s no difference between the two. Calling either one will sometimes connect you to someone in a different country, or will sometimes connect you to someone in the U.S. I’ll explain why this matters below
- Submit a report through the Airbnb platform
- When you reach out to the Support team, make it very clear how the guest violated Airbnb’s Review Policy. Provide evidence.
- Note: If you report the review through the platform, you’ll only be allowed 1,000 characters
- I’ve heard other hosts be the most successful when they speak directly to someone in the U.S.
- So, you may want to try asking to speak to someone in the U.S. You might even want to ask this as your first question and call back until you get ahold of someone in the U.S.
All that being said, you can quickly spend hours and hours trying to get a review removed. It’s hard. Very hard.
So, pick your battles. Remember all of the positive things there are about negative reviews.
If you do your best to provide every guest with an exceptional experience, the vast majority will notice, appreciate it, and leave a glowing review as a result.
A few one-off negative reviews won’t ruin your business.
Pro Tip: You should know that Airbnb will NOT delete a review based on truthfulness. Meaning, you might believe a guest flat-out lied about their experience and that is not grounds for removal of the review. It does not break their review policy.
Impact to Superhost Status
You might be wondering if getting a negative review or trying to remove a negative review will impact your Superhost eligibility.
A negative review from time to time doesn’t impact your Superhost status. You just need to maintain an average star rating of 4.8+.
In my experience, trying to get a review removed also doesn’t impact your Superhost status.
Deadline to Remove a Review
If you do want to try to get a review removed, you might be wondering if there’s a time limit for how long you’re able to.
The answer: maybe?
I asked an Airbnb Support representative and his answer was very unclear.
Airbnb reviews are simultaneously the best and worst part about hosting on Airbnb.
Now that you know how to successfully handle negative Airbnb reviews, you’re ready to start making them work in your favor!
To make ALL your reviews work in your favor, check out The Hands-Down Best Way to Respond to Airbnb Reviews, which covers how to respond to positive reviews.
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How do you respond to Airbnb reviews? Let me know in the comments!