Here’s my beef: the reviews. Every time a guest checks out, I review the guest, and I’m asked, “What could the guest do better?”
Now, the guest is my customer and a customer of Airbnb, so Airbnb asks that I criticize this person who has just come to stay the night and doesn’t want any trouble. Likewise, the guests review me and must be asked a similar question because every single review I get, there is an area for personal comments and the guest always leaves a little nastygram, telling me what I can do better.
Whereas an occasional host might take that question seriously, and the guest gets some feedback – Like what? “You shouldn’t leave your snot in the shower drain” – all guests take it seriously, and put themselves in the position of Reviewer of the Year.
There are many things I provide to be nice. These are things I don’t have to stock. I get complaints if the bar of soap is small. I was providing one Fiji water per guest (in their private little fridge) and they were complaining there was not enough free water.
I’ve received complaints about the snacks: about some of the plates arcing in the microwave, not having a hand towel, having to stir their coffee with a knife. Someone found a hair on one of the towels. Someone complained the ceiling was dirty. The window sill was dirty. There was a suggestion to wipe out the shower (make sure it’s dry for guests). The shower drips for a while after it is turned off.
A bug was found under the couch. A cricket came in under the door. There are tiny spiders in the corners of the ceilings. There’s a musty smell. I’m too noisy upstairs (it’s just me and I tiptoe). Buy a Keurig (there’s already a coffee maker, and free coffee and tea). Buy new nightstands. Buy a coffee table. Put in a TV. Make it lighter, use LED lights from now on. Keep the computer turned on or make it easier to turn on or take it out altogether.
Change the electrical wiring. Get new pillows. Get a luggage rack. Provide a place to hang clothes. Give more heat. Give more parking space. Love my emotional support pet. Did you slam the toilet seat or was that the heater?
Two naturally-oriented guests left the double doors open during a rain storm and put the couch in front of the open space to look out. When they were done, they didn’t close one side completely and for a while, worms were coming in to die, seeking the cool tile floor. Complaints from the next four guests because I couldn’t figure out why they started coming in so much.
I internalize and act on the comments. After being fully booked for a year, all those complaints I listed? They’re all fixed. I’ve made the place better and better. There are new floors, a new TV with all the channels you can get, a dehumidifier, a new heater (which two guests say is too loud and one even suggested buying a second new heater), new nightstands, the luggage rack, the LED light bulbs, plenty of plastic silverware, unoffensive everlasting snacks, lots of water (no longer Fiji), new paint on the walls and ceilings, and even a strictly regimented cleaning process, which I would happily attach if it would make dear reader happy.
My suggestion is, if they have a complaint, let them leave a complaint. But don’t encourage them. Hosts get worn out by constant suggestions and complaints. A guest might get one suggestion in a year. I have received more than one hundred. And that – on top of cleaning the place 120 times (they don’t all leave reviews) and having strangers in my basement.
I know it’s helpful. I should unpack and cherish every complaint like the little gift (of crap) it’s meant to be. But it hurts my heart. I am caring about these people and making the place super nice (it’s five stars, I’m a Superhost, and it’s a three-room suite in my very nice basement area for $45/night in a touristy area) and yet the complaints keep pouring in with every review. It’s not public (although some guests can’t help themselves) but it still undermines my joy in the experience, considerably.
Could Airbnb maybe only ask half of them to tell me what I could do better? Let the other half think for themselves whether they want to tell me what I can do better. I have many other tangents I can run down regarding Airbnb, Heaven or Hell, Depending on the day, but I will save that for another time. Until then, enjoy the host experience…