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AirBnB, VRBO...only showing positive reviews?

I believe I read somewhere on the Forum that one or both, AirBnB, VRBO, only print positive reviews. True? Experiences?
I recently attempted to rent a place that was listed as "on the beach". Once I agreed to rent, and was sent the address, I realized (Google Earth) that it was actually down a small street and around the corner from the beach. The one small balcony and only window, looked out on another building. Maybe something was lost in the définition of "on beach". I cancelled.

Posted by
1190 posts

It's such a good question and hopefully someone will have a definitive answer. My own experience: Booking.com 'buries" reviews that say something negative. I always hit some of the "topic" buttons ("breakfast" "beds" "location") and scroll down only reading reviews posted within the last year. (Sometimes the first review you see was written in 2018 or 19.) I used to trust airbnb more, but I think they are changing. I am not sure all reviews are posted (perhaps the host can dispute reviews and get them removed, I don't know) I usually look for anything that might indicate a negative about the place and weigh it quite heavily. Reviews for Spain were very sparse anyway. Obviously, Covid has had an impact. But when a place I booked 3 months ago shows a full calendar of bookings, yet no reviews for the that same three months, ...I 'm not sure what is going on. I was very happy with all the apartments I booked on Airbnb, and only had one negative on a booking.com apartment I rented for 3 nights. (the owner did not respond to the problem that we had no hot water. After waiting a day, my husband-who is very handy- figured out the problem and re-booted the system several times over the course of our stay. We would prefer the owner had handled it, since I would not want someone messing with my hot water heater at my house. They left us no choice)

Posted by
4454 posts

“ Sometimes the first review you see was written in 2018 or 19.”

Yes, always change the review sorting to be by date. Changing conditions of a place, staff, etc. over time could affect the reviews you would want to consider. If I don’t see at least a couple of reviews in the last 6 months, I look elsewhere.

Posted by
128 posts

In my experience with Airbnb reviews the star rating might be a 5 but based on the written description from the guests it should be lower. I think people give hosts inflated star reviews because they know most are not really hoteliers and it’s their house and they are just trying to pay the mortgage. In one case when looking for a mountain cabin on AirBnb I saw one with a 5 star rating but then she described the place as having “no Wi-Fi, no internet, no microwave, no cooking oil, no cable and the land line kept ringing at 5:00 am.” Good to know! FYI: They charged 176.00 a night. (The host responded by saying it’s a “digital detox space for people from LA”) So one person’s feature is a bug for others. Another guest said “just like visiting my interesting Aunt’s house— it’s lived in”. (Reading between the lines, “lived in” means dirty) In another case they wrote that the pictures on the listing looked nothing like where they stayed. They gave it 4 stars anyway. Another enthusiastic 4 star review:, “great space, too bad about the cat throwing up on the bedspread.” I am now a big fan of hotels.

Posted by
13530 posts

Are the stars in the review meant to represent all the amenities or meant to represent the quality vs as it was advertised?

A 3 star hotel can still get a 5 star review. So it's not about if it had this and that, but only about if you got the advertised experience.

Posted by
7591 posts

always change the review sorting to be by date

Absolutely -- no question. It irritates me that it isn't the default.

Posted by
370 posts

I use both Airbnb and VRBO often for overseas travel. There is a lot of pressure for Airbnb hosts to attain and keep “Superhost “ status, which depends in part on their star rating. In turn some hosts pressure their guests to leave only 5-star reviews. I have even seen signs that hosts put in their properties “explaining” the 1 to 5 star system. I think hosts can ask to have negative reviews removed but only if there is something blatantly untrue in the review. Many, many hosts think that Airbnb always favors and sides with the guest/renter. That said, I have only had positive experiences with both platforms. I read all reviews carefully, scrutinize photos, and ask questions before I book. I also rent only from private owners, not management companies. I figure I will get better service from someone who has to look me in the eye.

Posted by
847 posts

Without having read other replies, I am giving my 2cents.

Yes, Airbnb AND TripAdvisor remove negative reviews. I once rented a place from Airbnb in Singapore and got bed bug bites. Airbnb refunded my stay but prohibited me from writing a review! After this, I mainly use booking.com and Hotels.com for for accommodation reservations. They only allow actual guests to write reviews.

Haven't used VRBO for a long time and therefore cannot comment.

Posted by
21045 posts

I use booking.com a lot. I check out over 100 properties a year and usually read at least 50 reviews for each one. I've never had a sense I was seeing an expurgated set of reviews. I book very inexpensive properties, and it's common for them to have issues like tiny bathrooms, worn furnishings and noise due to thin walls. I see lots of reviews mentioning such problems. I've also seen multiple reviews complaining about staff with attitude problems, some of which left me with the impression it might have been the guest who had the bad attitude.

Posted by
292 posts

I know they do at least in the States. I rented a large and very expensive Airbnb for my son's local wedding. Local means a 2 1/2 hour drive away and it seemed like a good idea to have a big house where we could congregated close to the wedding. In reality, the place had uneven floors, a steep unprotected staircase, beaten up IKEA furniture and not enough towels. It was a poorly done flip that had some dangerous components that people should know about. In the almost completely mulched backyard right next to the door, we found broken glass, a petrified snake and a patio littered with cigarette butts. Clearly, only superficial cleaning and maintenance had been done. Under the stress of a family wedding, we emailed Airbnb about the situation, cleaned up the dangerous things, had family bring more towels and carried on. When we submitted our completely accurate review, the owner threatened us and Airbnb clearly did not care. Our review was scrubbed from the site. I haven't had problems with other rentals but this was a wake up call about the Airbnb practices. Buyer beware.

Posted by
2909 posts

There are many reasons I prefer hotels, here is one. I believe there are more opportunities to confirm reviews in hotels, and more opportunity to fix problems.