I’d like to start this article by prefacing it with this statement: I love Airbnb. I love hosting guests and cohosting for owners. It’s a wonderful tool that has opened up doors I could never dream of.
That being said…sometimes Airbnb really sucks.
One of the biggest issues that a host can deal with is retaliatory reviews by unhappy guests. As guests are becoming both more cunning and more picky, it’s unfortunately becoming a bigger and bigger issue.
Often, Airbnb doesn’t do a whole lot to stop this. They say that they will remove a review that violates their terms of service (TOS), but in practice, it’s incredibly difficult to get a review removed once it’s been posted. The few times I’ve had to ask that a review be removed, I’ve had to go through multiple agents over the course of several weeks. Eventually I have to actually tell them word-for-word what part of their own TOS was actually violated.
I won’t lie. It’s a huge pain. But with Airbnb bookings being so reliant on reviews, it’s worth the effort to get fraudulent or retaliatory reviews removed.
I’ve learned something important about this process that’s making the whole thing infinitely easier.
Be the first person they hear from.
Airbnb reps are, at the end of the day, people just like you and me. And just like you and me, they are going to tend to believe the first person they hear from.
Most guests who are going to cause you problems in the review have already caused you problems during their stay. A bad review should almost always be something you see coming. So after they check out, if they’ve done things that have legitimately been cause for worry, concern, or stress, call Airbnb and let them know.
This is ESPECIALLY true if you have evidence that they’ve actually threatened you with a bad review if you don’t give them what they want (usually a refund).
You’re not reporting the guest. They’re not going to get in trouble. You’re simply making a paper trail that Airbnb reps can follow later on. This paper trail is what they’re going to use to make their decision on whether a review should be removed or not. And like most human beings, they’re probably going to side with the person they heard from first.
I had a guest a few weeks ago who did this. Said they were going to cancel but never did. Several days after their reservation ended, they reached out to me asking where their refund was. When I told them that it wasn’t coming because they never actually canceled, they got all sorts of angry at me. Accused me of fraud, and theft, and told me point blank that they’d leave me a bad review if they didn’t get their money back.
At this point, I called Airbnb. Told them the story, got the rep to review the thread, and he agreed that the messages were totally against Airbnb’s TOS. He assured me that if the guest did leave a retaliatory review, they would remove it. After our conversation ended, I got him to recap what he’d said in writing.
And lo and behold, when the guest left a bad review (no surprise there), I was able to have it removed relatively easily.
Now, I’m no psychologist. I could be totally off-base here. But I’m pretty sure it was so easy because I had gotten my story in first.
I don’t like playing mind games. I wish as a host you never had to learn these sorts of tricks. But the fact is that they’re a part of the game if you want to be successful. So learn the rules of the game and play by them! Be proactive with Airbnb when you have unpleasant guests. You’ll get much better results in far less time.