Shampoo & Booze 35: How To Get Good Reviews on Airbnb

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We all know that getting good reviews is important. And to get good reviews, you ultimately must provide a quality experience. Easy, right? Let's dig in a little deeper.

Good reviews are broken up into two parts. The star rating and the actual text a guest writes.
The star ranking is obviously important for Airbnb search ranking. Low stars will get you pushed down. Many guests will be suspect if your place is anything other than five stars. Airbnb judges whether you're a "Super Host" based on your stars.

But even if a listing is all five stars, often guests write valuable notes about the properties. We always read the notes. They'll tell future guests if expectations they had weren't met. Maybe the listing said it was secluded, but it turned out to be a guest house with the owner in full view the entire time. Maybe a guest says it's impossible to cook a full meal because the kitchen had very few utensils. Maybe the water has bad pressure and didn't get hot enough. Maybe the apartment is too far away from important landmarks when the listing said it was convenient. Or, most important to us, the wifi was spotty and unreliable. Once these reviews are written, they start branding your listing.

How do we make sure we get good reviews?
  • We set proper expectations. We'd rather alert a future guest to a possible issue so they aren't disappointed. The road to our house is a dusty gravel road. It's never been a problem because guests always expect it. We, ourselves, have rented bare bones apartments at great prices; and it was fine because the owner made sure we knew we weren't going to stay in luxury. Expectations were set properly.
  • It's always strange to us when owners cease communication as soon as we check out. When our guests leave and we inspect our rental, we always send the guest a message the same day. We thank them for coming and for leaving the place clean. Even if the house is a bit messy, we thank them. Why get angry unless we plan to take their deposit? This private message also gives them the opportunity to tell us if there was a problem. We want to work out issues privately instead of reading about it publicly in their review and then having to respond publicly.
  • And most importantly, we always telegraph that we'll leave them a good review. So when the guest gets that note from Airbnb that says "Jay and Ryanne left you a review; please write them a review within 14 days to read it", then the guest knows we're friends.
We're by no means experts, but this method has served us well over the past eighteen months. All 68 of our reviews have been five stars. We deliver what we promise and treat guests with respect. Hospitality is definitely a different beast than just being a landlord.

Hope you guys are having a good summer with rentals. 

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!


  1. I think your approach is ingenious. Texting the guests a few hours after they leave and letting them know you will be leaving them a good review probably staves off any little quibbles they might be tempted to make. Although it sounds like your place is perfect and you put tons of thought into every detail. Did I hear Ryanne say that she changes out the shower curtain? How often?

    We're waiting for the right property to come on the market and might be joining you as airbnb hosts.

    We stayed in a gorgeous condo in Luquillo Puerto Rico that we found on airbnb. Until then I didn't realize that the host can also leave reviews, or that you can leave a private review for the host. That was pretty surprising and I saved my quibbles/suggestions for the private review.

    1. jay also texts them the day after they've checked in to make sure everything is good. that also helps keep people from leaving complaints in the review. we hope we can solve any problems before there are any further issues.

      i change the shower liner 1-2 times a month, i have two of them, so i just switch it out and wash them, they are polyester/fabric ones.

    2. It's important for Hosts to be able to leave guests reviews. This way a host can telegraph to future hosts if the person is disrespectful. But 99.999999% of the time, I can't imagine hosts leaving a bad review of a guest.

    3. Oh, and if you're really going to buy a place as an Airbnb rental, make sure you really do the numbers.
      --how much will it take to renovate
      --how much are taxes, insurance, utility bills?

      It's really a long term play. For us, we're committed to 20 years to really get the most profit out of the place.

    4. Thanks! We're looking for a place that is already renovated, or at least move in ready, that has a view or river/lake/stream, preferably both. Fingers crossed.

  2. Hi Ryanne and Jay,
    In one of your most recent five-star reviews, the guest appreciated your labelled light switches. I would like to do this for our airbnb as well. Which label maker do you use? Thank you!

    1. i use the dymo letraset. it's easy to use and it doesn't kill batteries. we even labeled the light switches at our house with it as well. (i always forget which is the fan and which is the light!)

    2. Thank you! I just ordered one from amazon.

  3. Airbnb review system reminds my of eBay's old system where each party could leave a review. I think your leaving the review first ensures the guest leaves on as well.

    All of my bookings come through my own website, but I send guests a review link for vrbo. I'd say that only 1 out of 3 guests leaves a review.
    I always call or email the day the guests arrive. When I send the review request varies, I used to send it a day after the guest left to give them time to get home and get settled. Now I typically send the request the last night they are there, so that their memory is fresh.

    1. That's smart to leave send a note on their last night. I feel once people leave and get back into their own routine, chances are they are less likely to leave a review.

      Usually if a guest hasn't left a review within 48 hours of leaving, they won;t leave one.