• Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer spent 26 years as a reporter at the New York Times, where she wrote about education, the death penalty, immigration, and aging in America, and was the New England bureau chief. The Times nominated her for the Pulitzer Prize. Her coverage of the death penalty was cited by the Supreme Court in its 2002 ruling outlawing the execution of developmentally disabled individuals. Profile

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There are 3 comments on At Airbnb, Where Every Stay Is Above Average

  1. Extreme positive bias is symptomatic of both Airbnb, and marketing in general. Even to the point of self-marketing platforms such as Instagram.

    But it’s worrying that Airbnb can’t provide an accurate review system, given how important reputation is on that platform.

    Plus there are a great number of risks that people rarely even pause to consider before using it, swept along by the assurances of safety and fun.

    We’ve compiled a few of the steps hosts can take to ensure their property doesn’t turn into the next Airbnb online horror story: https://legaltemplates.net/airbnb-horror-stories-how-to-avoid-being-next-in-line/

  2. I am a USNA grad and an Operations Analyst by degree. I didn’t see the key ingredient that I believe addresses the question of why Airbnb guests give much higher ratings than you see on hotel sites and others.

    The issue is the “Accuracy” measurement. I travel a great deal and the killer for hotels is they always include pictures of their best features, dressed up and well lit. When you arrive, the room is poorly lit. The room isn’t as clean as represented. On item after item, the entire experience doesn’t match the presentation.

    I can offer two experiences that I believe demonstrate exactly what happens on Airbnb.

    The first was an Airbnb stay near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The apartment was not fancy and could have been in quite a bit better condition. Nevertheless, the host described it very accurately and the experience was great because it matched our expectations. Result – 5 stars across the board. In short, we gave a pass on many things because of the integrity of the hosts representation.

    The second experience was a Airbnb listed bed and breakfast in Maryland. The host had represented the bed and breakfast much like the hotels. The experience totally failed to match our expectations. We ranked the experience down on every applicable issue. We gave top marks for all items that matched our expectation (cleanliness for example). Had the host been honest and not included photos that seemed to lie about the home, we likely would have given generous ratings.

    In my experience, hotels and the sites that generally support them aren’t long on accuracy as you move down the star rating. This is in my opinion the root cause issue.

  3. I can offer yet another view of the incredibly high AirBnb rating. A bad rating is bad for both the host and the guest. So people tend to book places with great score and as well hosts tend to pick up people with a great score.
    Even if my staying was just OK, if the host had been reasonbly nice and responisve, I will tend to give him an over-avarage review. I do as well compromise on a lot of issues that I will not compromise on in a hotel.
    I as well aim to have no issues with boocing an AirBnb so I try to have a good score. But the score is actually more important to the host, so host tend to prefer people who always give good socres to people who had never gotten a suspiciously sounding remark. So even if I know that things had not been perfect and the host will very likely addess an issue on which we didnt exactly get on, I will still tend to give a better review unless the stay had been truly horrible.

    So, the main problem is the psychology of AirBnb reviews. It results in useless rating which actually plays against the guests: it is much easier for a host to avoid a bad rating as it is for a guest and the guests need to invest time screening reviews written in different languages, or in English but from foreigners and try to read between the lines how brilliant the place actually was.

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