• Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald, Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times, where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

    She can be reached at srimer@bu.edu.

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 4 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.

  4. I was fascinated to read this article. I am retired and have been traveling around Mexico for the last three years and have stayed in almost 40 Airbnb’s. I read the reviews but view them with a very small grain of salt. Standards are completely different in Mexico and other Latin American countries than that of the US and many other places. So when the listing says that COVID precautions are taken, I pretty much know that facemasks are worn when you check-in, but after that their not used. Also, a comfortable workspace is nothing more than a childlike desk with a hard uncomfortable chair. And a firm mattress in Mexico is almost rock hard in the US. Sanitation standards would receive a “D” rating in other countries, and when the listing says that they enforce a quiet and tranquil atmosphere, well, that tells me just the opposite exists. When the reviews are written by locals they are almost always favorable toward both the accomodations and the host. When foreigners write the reviews, very seldom are the accomodations mentioned, but instead they give high ratings to the host. I have read some negative reviews, and I am surprised that they even show up. The negative reviews I have given in the past were either deleted or summarized to the point where they lacked any meaning. The point made about the two-way review system is totally valid. I will not lie on a review, but I can’t afford to have a lot of negative reviews in retaliation which would make a potential host reject my stay request. So I stopped giving reviews quite a while ago. I have come to the conclusion that Airbnb is not legally held to the same standards as a hotel would be. The listings will quite often use wide angled pictures to make the rooms look bigger, and they will omit pictures of areas that should be condemned. The descriptions of both the dwelling and the area are mostly false. If a hotel did that, they could lose their license and a blanket lawsuit would occur. The only reason I have stayed in so many Airbnbs for so long in Mexico is because of the pandemic. Now that other countries are opening up again I will be leaving.

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *