Complaints and bad reviews happen but many are preventable and navigable.
Below are 10 sure fire ways to keep Airbnb complaints at bay.
If you are new to STR self-management, its only a matter of time before you get a complaint. We are providing the below tips to help you mitigate some of the issues heading your way.
1. Keep your property well maintained
Do not wait for multiple complaints to come through before you know you really have a maintenance issue. Short term vacation rentals aren’t your primary home where you sometimes tolerate deferred maintenance. Fix issues promptly and avoid conversations with guests you don’t want to have. For everything they may complain about, there’s probably something they can “deal with.” But, at some unknown point, they will hit a limit. Solve everything possible to avoid finding their limit.
2. Visit your property
Aim for quarterly visits. Live in it, cook in it, use the showers and all the bathrooms. Watch the t.v. and play the board games. Remember, while you are enjoying yourself, this is your “work” (the struggle is real, lol). I recently discovered slow running water in a king ensuite bathroom–noticeably slow. Truly, ridiculously slow. A trickle. Debris in the line caused the screen mesh filters to get backed up right at the end, according to the contractor. He opened up the screens (unfortunately, these weren’t ones I could simply unscrew myself). In 30 minutes, all four sinks at the property were free flowing. Now, my guests have free flowing faucets. Yay! All due to living there and using every bit of the property. And, it was with the help of my friends. What a life where we can take our friends to “work”, create memories and enjoy ourselves, all in the name of taking care of our guests.
3. Give clear, concise instructions at the right time
I used to send check in instructions 24 hours before check-in. I’d get so many guests asking for them 36-48+ hours prior to the automated message going out. I bumped up the timing and now they start their trip with a feeling of confidence that I will take care of them. They know their questions will be answered.
4. Have both a physical way for guests to access information
In the property, provide a welcome book or house manual that gives Wi-Fi info, T.V. instructions and everything else they could possibly need to know. Have them prepared in easy-to-read sections and also have an online version. Don’t wait for guests to get frustrated by the thermostat and complain; teach them the tricks. Using Canva.com or Touch Stay or other products can be a great resource. We even have a FREE template for creating a welcome book here!
5. Be generous. Don’t be stingy
Personally, I don’t want to see a coffee maker, but not be able to find coffee or no filters. Is there just a single roll of TP in each bathroom, one towel per person, or the minimum pillow count? We aren’t here as hosts to simply check the boxes. Let’s offer exceptional experiences. Guests feel your generosity, and they’ll pause before lodging a complaint. Go wild in your generosity. Set yourself apart and provide 3 rolls of TP per bathroom. Give your guests coffee. Heck, a whole coffee bar! Throw in extra towels and pillows so they start their vacation off right and not wondering where else you skimped.
6. Set the bar for clean
What does that really look like? Here’s a great description to share with your house cleaners: the next guests shouldn’t be aware that anybody has ever stayed in your property before they checked in. No stray hairs on the sheets or towels, no food left in the fridge, no half rolls of TP making them question who sat there last should be found. No evidence of anything has happened before they got there. Help support your cleaning team in any way possible.
7. Keep issues small
Notify your guests before they walk blindly into an existing issue. Today, during the clean, my house cleaner alerted me the hot tub isn’t heating up. I have a check in tonight. I call the hot tub service, and the soonest they can come out is tomorrow morning. So, I sent the guests a message alerting them to the chilly hot tub. Is this a conversation I’m looking forward too? No. But it’s worse for them to get changed into their suits, pour a glass of wine, and go out to the hot tub, and try to climb into frigid water. That really sets guests back on their heels. It’s better that they know now, can flip the switch to the gas fireplace and stay inside with their wine and cuddle on the couch instead. Crisis averted. An offer of compensation before the guests ask is always a great idea when things aren’t up to standard.
8. Show up in person
Even if you host remotely, this is feasible. Hear me out. Let’s say a guest finds something that is absolutely wrecking their stay. (A stray bug, they don’t know how to figure out the pool heat, a breaker got tripped, no extra blankets, etc). If they send a ranting message, sometimes the best solution is switch communication modes. Send out the handyman, the pool guy, the pest company, a neighbor, housekeeper or inspector. Get creative and get there in person. ANY PERSON. Often, that is just what it takes to let the guests know they are taken care of. They want their concerns to be heard. It’s amazing to see the attitude turn around when they are facing their host or host stand-in, as opposed to the text screen.
9. Monetary refunds aren’t enough
It’s easy and quick to throw money at problems, but that doesn’t help guests feel the love. If you’ve vetted well, you have guests that are genuinely there to enjoy their vacation. They aren’t scamming for a free one. Sending them a $20 or even $500 refund is going to feel good in the moment but isn’t lasting. They’ve been impacted in a negative way. We as hosts need to impact their vacation in a positive way. Send flowers and a thank you card. Send them out to dinner at your favorite local restaurant. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. Make an offer that will provide a big, positive emotion which will result in a satisfied guest despite issues.
10. Turn the problem into an opportunity to show off your hospitality
I have feared a poor review more than once. But. because the guests felt so cared for, they left a glowing five stars in the midst of a less than ideal situation. Someday, ask me about the guest who had to scale the walls up to the balcony at midnight to get in! Then, how the heck did that get me five stars? My business partner, Britt, is still amazed by that one! Haha!