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The Top Airbnb Guest Complaints -- and How to Avoid Bad Reviews

[Updated: Mar 08, 2021 ] Mar 07, 2021 by Aly J. Yale
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Bad reviews can kill your short-term rental listing. Not only can they scare away potential travelers, but they can also hurt your listing’s overall visibility (not to mention your chances at that elusive Superhost status, too!)

Want to make sure your Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) reviews are helping your business, not hurting it? Then study up on these commonly cited complaints as well as how to avoid them.


Complaints about cleanliness (more specifically, a lack thereof) are easily the most common ones out there. Stains on the sheets, cobwebs in the corner, or unswept floors can leave guests feeling uneasy, or even a little grossed out.

Fortunately, these complaints are fairly easy to prevent. Just choose your cleaning crew carefully, and make sure to create a detailed, room-by-room checklist for them to follow while they’re there. Ask them to pay attention to how clean the property smells, too. You’d be surprised at the difference a few air fresheners can make.

Every once in a while, do a check-in to be sure the crew is following your protocols. Airbnb has some pretty strict sanitizing rules due to COVID-19, so you’ll want to be extra sure they’re falling in line.

Wi-Fi problems

In this day and age, your property needs Wi-Fi, and high-speed Wi-Fi at that. Your guests will need it to stream TV shows, watch movies, use their phones, and, in many cases, even work while they’re there.

To prevent Wi-Fi problems from dragging down your reviews, leave detailed instructions for how guests can connect to your network on various devices. You might also invest in a few extenders to ensure good connections throughout the property.

Finally, if you do get a complaint about the Wi-Fi, ask for details. What device were they using? What was the exact problem? Use this to troubleshoot with your Wi-Fi provider and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Slow communication

No matter how detailed your listing or guidebook is, your guests are still going to have questions, both before their arrival and during their stay. And if you’re not there to answer them? You can bet it will go in their review.

Now, don’t get me wrong here: You can’t be expected to respond instantly, especially if you’re in a different time zone. But you should have some system for responding in a timely manner. A good option is to bring in a cohost (or two). Each of you can have "office hours" where you’re responsible for responding to messages, booking requests, and other communications. Giving guests your cell phone number or using a tool like WhatsApp for messaging can be smart, too.

Defective amenities

If you list a washer-dryer as one of your home’s amenities, it better well work. Defective amenities are one of the most common complaints among unhappy travelers, and they can tank a review fast -- especially if it’s something they were really relying on (a dishwasher for a longer stay, a pack-n-play for their baby, etc.).

To make sure your amenities are always in working order, ask your turnover crew to test each item before leaving the property. You can even give them a checklist. Be sure to include all appliances and major systems (the A/C and heater, for example), small devices like hair dryers, and anything noted as an amenity on your listing.

Missing supplies

No one wants to run out of toilet paper, towels, or other necessities. Remember: Airbnbs are meant to be a home-away-from-home experience, so your guests will need access to all the basics: blankets, towels, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and more.

Have your cleaning crew lay out plenty of each when turning over the property, and leave instructions for how guests can get more if they need it (maybe there’s a stock in the garage?). You should also have someone local on hand to drop off additional supplies if necessary.

Access problems

Surprisingly, many guests complain of access problems, too. There might be a jammed door or stuck lock, or it could be because you (or your turnover team) forgot to update the codes on your keypad. Issues with gates, garages, and lockboxes are also common.

Your best bet at preventing these problems is to install a keyless smart lock -- one you can control with just your mobile phone. This allows you to grant and deny access on the fly, as well as change keycodes as needed.

The bottom line

Short-term rental bookings are rising, and as vaccinations continue to be more widespread, that trend will only continue as the year goes on. Are your reviews doing all they can to capitalize on this increased interest? If not, it may be time to tweak some of your processes.

Need more help making your Airbnb property successful? Try adding some of these value-adding amenities.

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Aly Yale has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Airbnb, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.