Do You Believe Reviews On Airbnb?

Airbnb reviews are crucial. There are too many scams, and unlike hotels that are part of a chain there’s no brand to serve as guidance for what to expect.

Hosts and guests are supposed to review each other blind, not knowing what the other one says until they submit their own review.

But maybe there are reviews out there being submitted under duress?

Nonetheless one host contract I’ve seen required guests to submit any negative items to them in advance of posting.

And like hotel reviews on Tripadvisor it’s always best to look at themes in the details across numerous reviews, not just the overall opinion reviews are expressing. A review might be overly positive for some reason, but it may not specifically say a property is clean if it isn’t (and it’s even less likely that numerous reviews will say so).

Regardless when the police get involve after threats of violence over accommodations reviews that may be a one-off, rather than representative of the platform. But it’s also a reminder that you don’t really know whom you’re renting from – or to.

(HT: @JohnGaltPattaya)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. There’s also the whole “we’ll refund you if you agree to not leave a review” game, which happened to us with an AirBnB booking years ago in LA. Never booked with AirBnB again after that.

  2. Crazy airbnb host! Hotels dont have the time to track guest down like that even though we have all the same information crazy and scary.

  3. Since nobody has ever had a bad experience in a hotel, I hereby declare that I will never, ever stay at an airbnb again. I apologize for enjoying my several dozen stays in the past with great hosts and fun experiences and will take to heart the horror of an anecdotal exception.

  4. Hotels would never ever ever post fake reviews. Ever.

    Not like when Hyatt or IHG hired fake tripadvisor reviewers. That would never happen.

  5. Enough already. We know: you don’t like Airbnb. I take it they won’t comp you and family so you are taking revenge by posting pathetic comments based on a twitter one off. As if all hotels, airlines, car rental companies don’t have some horror story. Get back to posting without such a bias. How many have you actually booked?

  6. I stayed at an AirBnB where than man moved in with his fiancee and had a few months lease remaining. It was a little dusty. As the months went on, the reviews got worse. Then his lease expired and the listing gone. So the reviews were accurate for that one.

  7. Reviews are what they are. The opinions of someone who may or may not be honestly posting. It’s usually easy to pick out the scofflaws by their grammar, punctuation and general tone. Reviewers who think the front desk was rude go on and on about that … totally useless as a review. You have to read a couple dozen reviews and let it all percolate for a while … few travellers do that.

  8. Jeff appears to have a war on Airbnb. I’ve had my issues with them but not so much with the properties. I’ve found that generally the reviews are accurate. Reviewers tend to be a bit too kind I think but in their comments they hint at things less than perfect.

    The argument that hotels have a brand to protect is good on the surface, in reality there is anecdotal data that suggests that hotels have just as many issues as Airbnbs.

    Jeff, until you started open warfare on Airbnb I found you to be among my favorite travel bloggers. Now, I question your objectivity.

  9. Scratching head. This is Gary’s blog and his personal biases/interests are relevant. Just because he says something doesn’t make it 100% true for everyone – it just makes it his opinion. You can do with it as you like. I have too many concerns over safety to book Air BnB and that is before you get into all of the crazy individual policies of each owner. Air BnB is a HARD pass for me – but hey, that’s just me. If you are comfortably with them, you should use them and quit bellyaching at Gary for his opinion. Nuff said.

  10. “Nonetheless one host contract I’ve seen required guests to submit any negative items to them in advance of posting.”

    Who is that host? They should be named, shamed, and removed from the platform.

  11. I have about 200 reviews for my VR between VRBO and AirBnB, and none of them are fake. Both sites make it just about impossible to remove reviews even if they are unfair. (For example my one bad review was because the volcano was errupting, which had nothing to do with my house. I still couldn’t get it removed.) One of the sites requires you to have stayed in order to post a review, I can’t remember which. In general I’m sure owners monitor their reviews for fakes more than a Tripadvisor or hotel site.

  12. Overseas, Airbnb sends in a phalanx of lawyers to chop and bribe their way past local regulations and taxes. One can imagine that these stinking freeloaders who pay no tax or registration in that country, and certainly no compensation to neighbours, they would also ignore local laws and expectations for fair reviews. Just like expedia “Wonderful.. Superb blah blah”.

  13. My family has stayed at airbnbs for years all across America while visiting national parks. For the record, we have had all excellent stays. As a matter of fact, we’re at one right now, by Arches National Park. I’m sure that there are bad ones. I think a special type of due diligence is necessary and I’m sure the possibility exists for a bad stay or even a scam. But we’ve had to leave a hotel shortly after checking in also so it’s everywhere.

  14. I simply want to echo the sentiment here that your recent sequence of anti-Airbnb emails have a clear bias. Maybe something happened with you, the posts are generating clicks, or people like me are giving you an email just to post a comment. Either way, I think most of the readers here appreciate objectivity.

    I stay in both hotels and Airbnbs often, and both have their pro’s and con’s. Also note that I do not own/operate either.I’ve had negative experiences with both. But many of your recent posts are clearly targeting Airbnb, when similarities are just as likely to happen at hotels.

    To name a couple, Airbnb has a new Aircover policy which protects against last minute cancelations. Many Airbnbs offer partial or full refunds like hotels until last minute. Hotels can technically cancel on you last minute if you read T&C, although good ones don’t, as is true with highly rated hosts because they do not want their rating to drop. I personally had an issue at an Airbnb and although I had to spend annoying time on the phone ending up staying at a nicer hotel for free. If you simply try and “chat now” with Hilton through their website, you’ll notice their chat function hasn’t worked for the past few months, and you can easily be on hold for well over an hour. Again, I am not advocating for either, but I think you should at least research policies a bit more before publishing those so your readers, like me, don’t start seeing your articles are clickbait. Interesting to see if you’ll publish this..

  15. I don’t believe in dropping money on air b&b’s just so they can “spy” on your every move … better places to drop my cash than someone’s air b&b. Facts and Truth …
    zero reviews here. Have a great day

  16. I don’t believe in dropping money on air b&b’s just so they can “spy” on your every move … better places to drop my cash than someone’s air b&b. Facts and Truth …
    zero reviews here. Have a great day

  17. With hotels reducing or eliminating the perks elite members receive and increasing prices they are practically begging customers to use alternate platforms for their lodging needs. I prefer VRBO over Airbnb.

  18. stayed once at airbnb never again!!!
    heavy picture frame right over my bed came crashing down during the night!
    next day had some miserable russian guy (ITS NOT RACISM THEY INVADED UKRAINE)
    who i guess was owner, call me cursing that i broke his pic..

  19. You know people have died at hotels from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    This is literally blackmail and Airbnb if you follow the thread acted within days. Local government revoked their license probably too. Why knock airbnb over this?

    This is a good argument though for governments only allowing airbnb whole house stays if you get a license. That way there is an authority for these types of rare issues.

    PS There is nothing wrong with offering a refund if there are problems for not leaving a bad review (as long as renter doesn’t blackmail host, host has to offer). This is similar to a legal settlement with an NDA.

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