Author: Benjamin Harty

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist for Skyline STR. I have been involved in content creation for over a decade and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are AirBnB photographers that are experienced in rental arbitrage and hosting on the platform.

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How To Write A Negative Review For Your Bad Airbnb Host

Airbnb is a great way to travel for cheap. You can find amazing deals on Airbnbs in your city or country, and you’ll never have to stay in a hotel again!

But what happens when you book an Airbnb and the host turns out to be terrible?

After a bad experience at an Airbnb, you might be tempted to grab your laptop or Smartphone and write a negative review. But before you hit the send button, make sure you know why you are writing and what you hope to accomplish. The last thing you need is legal fees because the host decides to sue you.

To write a negative review for an Airbnb host, focus on the facts, document what happened, give suggestions for improving the experience, and use language effectively. As you write your review, think about your purpose, and if you want to discourage others or provide feedback to the host.

This blog post will teach you how to write a negative review about them so that other guests don’t make the same mistake.

You have spent enough time stewing about your bad Airbnb experience, so let’s get started.

How Do You Write A Negative Host Review on Airbnb?

A negative review should focus on the facts, document what happened and provide suggestions for improving the experience. This will help other guests make an informed decision about whether or not to book with that host again.

As you write your bad Airbnb review, think about if it’s going to be perceived as genuine and discourage others from booking at this host, or provide feedback to the bad Airbnb host so they can improve their experience.

You will also want to keep in mind that hosts live and die by their reviews, and anything under 5 stars is damaging to their listing. In fact, if a host receives too many 3-4 star reviews their listing may be removed altogether.

Let’s go deeper on how to write a “better” bad review.

How Will Your Review Be Useful?

Is your goal to discourage others from staying at that Airbnb? Or do you want to offer constructive criticism to help the host? Either way, the tone of your review impacts the effectiveness of the feedback.  

Your review will be useful for future guests if you list reasons why they should find another place to stay. You will want to explain what went wrong and why you think it was not a one-off experience. If a listing says full bath and the shower is in a shared bathroom, that cannot be changed.

A review to help the hosts improve cannot be completely negative if you want them to take your suggestions.

Keep in mind also that there is a difference between venting and complaining. Venting is a healthy way of coping with stress, which can lead to problem-solving. Complaining, on the other hand, only creates new problems. 

People get tired of hearing others complain, and it can become an unbreakable cycle. So venting and writing a review can be helpful for you, and those around you, as well.

Focus on the Facts and Not Just Emotions

Although how you felt about the experience is important, without context, it is hard for the reader to know what exactly happened.  

Compare “The hosts didn’t communicate” to “The hosts took a day to respond to my questions.” Didn’t communicate can mean many things, but taking a day to respond clearly shows that the owners do not make communication a high priority.

“The bathroom was dirty,” is vague. “The hosts had not cleaned the bathtub after the last guests as the drain was clogged with hair,” is specific (and gross).

Although it might feel good to vent, if you want readers to know why they should avoid a place, specific details are more convincing than general statements.

Document What Happened

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies to writing reviews, whether they are good or bad.  

If you saw mold in the bathroom, take a picture. The sink was full of dirty dishes—get out your cell phone and snap a picture.  

Not everything can be documented with a camera. For example, if the room reeked of smoke, a camera cannot show that. However, if you send the host a message about it, that serves as documentation, especially if the host responds.

Use Language That Will Help You

Sometimes, small details can make a big difference, like when the host puts a little treat on your bed. The same is true with little words. Unfortunately, we can get the big things right but sabotage ourselves unintentionally, so let’s take a look at some words and phrases to use or avoid.

Calling your experience the “worst Airbnb I ever stayed in” might be true, but people will see through the hyperbole, especially if you have not given facts that back up your claims. Avoid words like “very,” “absolutely,” and “totally,” as they add to the over-the-top drama you want to avoid. 

Use the phrase “in my opinion” several times. A similar phrase–“I think” –weakens your ideas, because it suggests that you realize it’s just your thoughts, and you could be wrong. But “in my opinion” does not undermine your authority to have an opinion.

Unless you want to come off sounding superior, avoid words like “actually” and “obviously.”  They suggest the other person doesn’t understand something that is so obvious to you.

Finally, the word “just” weakens your review, because your review is not just important–it is important.

Give Suggestions for Improvement

Even if your goal is to warn others, your review will come across as more professional if you provide suggestions to the hosts. For example, maybe an emergency had kept the hosts from providing a positive experience, or they had not been aware of the situation.

Compare “we couldn’t find anything,” to “if the hosts had a notebook that told us where to find what we need, we wouldn’t have spent so much time looking for what we needed.”

Not only have you given the hosts some tips, but you have given future guests a tip for what to expect. And if the hosts want to improve future guest experiences, they will make a notebook and make sure it is featured in a picture of the room.

Follow These Steps To Write Your Review

So now that we have some guidelines for writing a bad review, let’s get into the technicalities. Writing a review on Airbnb is a straightforward process. 

  1. Log into your Airbnb account.  
  2. Click on your account name and navigate to your profile.
  3. Then click on “Reviews by You.” 
  4. On the next page, you will see two categories. Select “Reviews for You” and start writing.

When you finish, take a deep breath, reread one more time, and then press “enter.”

Follow Airbnb’s Policies for Reviews

Airbnb has a few policies to keep in mind:

  • You have 14 days to write a review once you check out.  
  • If you change your mind about the review, you have 48 hours to edit it or until your host leaves a review of you.
  • A notification to write a review might not show up for 2 to 3 days.
  • Your host will not see your review until they have reviewed you or the 14-day period ends, whichever comes first.
  • The review cannot be over 1,000 words.
  • You can leave both public and private reviews.

These policies are designed to provide fair and accurate reviews to help potential visitors make an informed decision. Reviews should be written while the experience is fresh in your mind. 

And let’s face it–you will be more likely to write an honest review if you know the owner will not use it to write a bad review of you.

Ask Yourself If Writing a Review Is a Good Use of Your Time

Now that you know how to write an effective negative review for your bad Airbnb host, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this worth my time? Even if you spend an hour on the review, you could have spent that time with your family, planned your next vacation, or balanced your checkbook.  
  • How will the hosts respond? Reviews work both ways. Future hosts can see your reviews and what other hosts said about you. The same hosts who did not provide clean towels may write a nasty review about you.
  • What if they try to sue? Although this is unlikely, some hosts will send out threatening letters suggesting that they will sue you if you don’t take the review down. In that case, you might need to contact an attorney.
  • Do I want to spend mental energy on this? Not only will you spend mental energy composing the bad Airbnb review, but you will also then worry if you should have worded it differently. 

If you think it is essential to write a negative review, then do so. But make sure it’s worth your time and energy.

Can Airbnb Hosts Remove Bad Reviews?

So you did the dirty deed and left a negative review for your Airbnb host, and the question on many peoples mind is whether or not their host can get the bad review removed.

In most cases, the answer is no.

Once a review goes up, it stays there permanently and cannot be edited. However, there are some cases when a review can be removed:

  • You ask Airbnb to take the review down. Let’s say that you regret leaving the bad review and want to retract it. Airbnb may take the review down if you, the guest, request it.
  • You broke house rules. If a resolution has been opened by your host because you broke the house rules or damaged the property, your host may be able to argue that your review was retaliatory and may get the review taken down on a case by case basis.
  • You never arrived at the property. In almost all cases, a host can get a negative review removed if you didn’t actually stay at the property.

Can You See Negative Reviews on Airbnb?

Although it seems like there are no negative reviews on Airbnb, they aren’t actually hidden. This may be due to the fact that many people want to “be nice” and will leave a good review to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Unfortunately this doesn’t do future guests any good and they may be surprised by a subpar, or negative, experience.

But the bottom line is this: if a guest leaves a bad Airbnb review, it is public and cannot be removed.

However, during the review process you are able to leave private feedback for your host/guest which will not be shown on Airbnb. If you wish for your bad reviews to be hidden then leave all feedback there.

Bottom Line

If you choose to write a negative review for an Airbnb experience, you will provide an essential service to the host and future guests. A well-written, detailed review can help other visitors know what to expect, and it can provide feedback for the hosts that they can use to improve their Airbnb.

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