Personal Finance

8 Complaints from Guests that Improved Our Airbnb Listing

We learned a lot from the first few guests we hosted on Airbnb. Here are the top eight complaints that we received that helped us improve our host ratings in the future.

In some ways, your customers are smarter than you. This is as true for business people as it is for Airbnb hosts. The clients in this case — guests — can provide actionable feedback that can improve your listing and make it more attractive to future visitors. You may have to pick through compliments and complaints to find the most helpful tips they're offering, but it's worth your time to act on their advice. Here are eight such heads-ups that we received from guests — and how we responded to them — during our first year as a host on the home-sharing platform.

Hosting FAQs

1. "Maybe slightly formalize check-in."

Back in our early days, we simply left a hidden key for our arriving guests. Based on this guest's issue getting into the apartment on their own, we became more detailed in providing pre-arrival instructions. We also made more of an attempt to be present for their initial check-in.

2. "The only thing I forgot to check was how far the place was from a subway stop and which ones were closest. It would be good to leave info on this and on bus stops."

This guest was a bit disgruntled for having booked a room in an apartment that was a 10-minute walk to the nearest subway station. To be more transparent for future guests, we included on our listing transportation details for five different modes: subway, taxi, car, bus and bicycle.

3. "Recommend any good places to eat nearby?"

Based on this question becoming a recurring one among soon-to-arrive guests, we decided to save ourselves some time by listing our favorite dining options for 18 different cuisines. We even included how long of a walk it would be from our apartment to each restaurant.

Quick Requests — and Fixes

4. "Putting a garbage can in the room will be better."

Our very first guest pointed out this blindspot. A very quick fix ensured a better experience for each ensuing guest.

5. "My only other thought would be to point out available outlets or provide a power strip out of the one on the window wall. I easily have 4 devices to plug in, so I keep these things in mind."

Not realizing initially that most of our guests were on-to-go backpackers with an affinity for charging phones and laptops, we took this guest's feedback to heart. Leaving a power strip near the night stand allowed them to connect, even if it upped our electric bill slightly.

6. "Could not get the WiFi working."

Another simple problem (that could have been avoided) with a simple solution. Like guests' common request for restaurant recommendations, we found ourselves being asked often for our WiFi account's username and password. To avoid being asked at all, we started providing the login credentials to guests via the Airbnb messaging application before they even checked in.

7. "Unfortunately, we did not realize that there was no form of air conditioning in the bedroom make [sic] it difficult to relax there during the hot summer after touring the city all day. I would get a bigger fan for the summer months, it was difficult for us to stay cool at night and sleep comfortably trying to share the small fan."

The issue with this guest arose because they were unfamiliar with New York City summers and we weren't up front and clear enough on our listing. We now point out there that the room we rent out does not have an air conditioning unit but that we do supply two small fans to get the air moving. It's always best to set clear expectations.

8. "The room was clean with no issues, but the kitchen/hall had some strong smells probably due to the combination of infrequent wash-ups and the heat. A toilet brush would also be handy."

The hard part about competing with a hotel for guests is that we don't have our own cleaning crew. In this particular instance, we interrupted a guest's otherwise great stay with a less-than-sparkling common area. After receiving a lower-than-typical rating, we made sure to clean up our act going forward.

Andrew Pentis

Andrew is a former Associate Editor at ValuePenguin. He focused on an array of personal finance topics, from money management to career development.