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Turning A Negative Airbnb Experience Into A Positive

My Worst Airbnb Experience

In the summer of 2013, life was good. My Airbnb business was in full swing, earning more than double what I was making from my fixed-term rate.

I had hosted over 60 groups and had a healthy collection of glowing reviews and five-star ratings. My listing was on the up and up. And then, without warning, disaster struck.

I received the following message from a guest who had just checked in in a day earlier:


We moved out of your apt this morning. Your apt is not as advertised and it is unacceptable. Loose electrical wires, poor lighting, a shower that stinks, location over a smelly fish store etc.

Kindly provide me with a rental refund for two days rental or I will write to AirBNB explaining in detail why your apartment should be removed from its site.

Please let me hear from you soon.

I was livid. After putting in countless hours and an enormous amount of effort, I thought that my listing was a shining example for all Airbnb hosts. But alas, my perception had been dashed. But how was it possible? After hosting so many happy guests, how on earth could someone find my apartment to be “unacceptable?” Not only was my confidence shattered, but I began to worry that this guest’s negative report could get me banned from Airbnb altogether!

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My blood was pumping and my adrenaline was surging. I felt heat pouring from every orifice on my body. My first instinct was to meet my guest face to face and argue with him. I wanted to show him that what he was saying is patently false. I wanted to bash his insolent attitude. Suffice to say, I was enraged.

But as a principle, I never let myself act on emotion. So, I took a few deep breaths, walked around the block, and calmed my nerves. After I cooled down, I reflected on the email again. Suddenly, I had a moment of clarity. I realized that this guy is probably a picky, high maintenance individual. I had not encountered any rough reviews to date simply because I had not hosted an anal-retentive person like him (which makes sense, considering these highly opinionated and picky folks are quite rare). Instead of taking offense to his suggestion, I decided to review and implement his suggestions. Why? I figured that if I made my apartment perfect in the eyes of this guest, my apartment would be virtually complaint proof!

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Instead of starting an argument, I opted to offer a full refund in exchange for the guarantee that a negative review would not be left (since he didn’t actually stay at my apartment). Although I lost out on some money, I put out a potentially disastrous fire. I prevented a bad review from surfacing and maintained my stellar reputation. Awesome.

But I wasn’t done. I tried to think objectively about my apartment, the criticism, and what positive action I could take. I removed whatever electrical wires were visible, instructed my cleaner to pay special attention to the shower and bathroom areas, and installed air fresheners throughout the apartment.

After taking care of these minor issues, my subsequent guests complimented me on my extraordinary attention to detail. My reviews were even better than before, and my traffic increased as well. The takeaway message is this: always take feedback seriously, even if you think it’s ridiculous.

This is part one of the Airbnb Hosting Series, in which the author shares his knowledge on Airbnb hosting.

Comment Section

6 thoughts on “Turning A Negative Airbnb Experience Into A Positive

By Airbnb Hosts (@Airbnb_hosts) on 20 August 2014

Thanks for sharing this article Jasper! I love how you’ve turned a negative experience into a learning opportunity and are sharing this with your readers. You won’t be able to please everyone and there are always complainers in life but I’m glad that there are great hosts on Airbnb such as yourself that really tries to make the Airbnb experience a wonderful one.

For anyone looking for more tips on being a great Airbnb host, visit our forum: We’ve also got other great resources on property management and cleaning services for Airbnb, cool tools to make your life as a host easier and much more!

By chad on 8 February 2015

Is it possible that this guest was lying just to get a free stay?

By Jasper Ribbers on 12 February 2015

Hi Chad, I don’t think he was lying to get the free stay because he ended up staying at the Marriott which is more expensive per night than my Airbnb listing.

By Piyanut on 10 November 2015

Thank you for sharing and thank goodness that i came across to your sharing. Never got bad experience from all visited guest yet. Your sharing would teach me how and what i should do to be a better host and be a better owner to my room.

By Jasper on 14 November 2015

Thanks for commenting, glad you found the post helpful!

By karla on 19 March 2016

Hi Chad,
Great experience to learn from. I had one like that too. However the couple asking for discount rate. I did my best. And his wife keep complain. So I suggested to rebound the money and please go to 5 stats hotel to suit them better. But he want to stay the full booked days. Or he want to sue me…lol…At the end he still give me the terrible reviews.
It is true that hard to please every one. Especially when they try to find a way to get discount for those reasons. I am always on top of ” cleaning ” so I know for sure it is never the reason to complain.
🙂 happy hosting…

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