Every vacation rental owner on Airbnb wants the golden 5-star review. Especially since success on the platform is determined by guest feedback, aka reviews. In fact, becoming an Airbnb Superhost (and ultimately securing more bookings) requires maintaining a whopping 4.8 rating. Not to mention that reviews for a specific property are also linked back to the host, which can have a huge impact on maintaining a successful vacation rental business on Airbnb.
As daunting as this all may sound, there are some foolproof things you can do and should do consistently (plus one thing you absolutely shouldn’t) to make sure you get 5-star Airbnb reviews. We’ve got you covered with our list below.
The top 6 things you should do (and 1 you should avoid at all costs) to get 5-star Airbnb reviews.
1. DO set expectations upfront before your guests even arrive.
Transparency matters, especially in the vacation rental business. Potential guests want to know exactly what they’re getting, so it’s important that your listing is accurate and that you’re highlighting any quirks or issues at your property before they arrive.
For example, let your guests know if your rental is only accessible via a four-wheel-drive vehicle or up a set of steep stairs. If you live near an airport or train station, it’s a good idea to mention that noise may be heard inside the home (while still plugging the convenience of the location, of course). Make communication easy and cover these details in a confirmation email, guest messaging dashboard, or via a short text message before check-in.
2. DO build trust and list your security devices on all channels.
Similarly, let prospective guests know if your property is equipped with security devices, including privacy-safe noise sensors. Being honest about these devices will not only address any guest privacy concerns, but it will also show that you care about earning their trust—ultimately leading to repeat bookings and 5-star Airbnb reviews.
To help guests feel at ease and not singled out by surveillance, position noise-monitoring as part of a community effort. Make it a “good neighbor” feature in your listing—something guests can be proud to be a part of. And an added plus? It can also help deter bad guests from even booking your place.
3. DO make arrival and check-in as easy as possible.
First impressions are crucial in the vacation rental business. What your guests experience in those first moments at your property can set the tone for their entire stay. Make arriving at your property effortless for them (think sunshine and rainbows), so the only thing they have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your space.
Include driving directions in your confirmation email or pre-arrival text if your rental is in a rural location and doesn’t pop up easily on GPS. Make sure your property is spotless when guests arrive and give them a heads up if cleaning is finished ahead of time, in case they want to check in early. Create a welcome book (digital or print) that’s easy to find and can act as a property user guide—detailing everything from how to use home appliances to troubleshooting internet issues.
And consider installing a digital lock on your front door and sending the access code by text or through your guest messaging dashboard. That way there’s more flexibility around checking in—this will also help prevent guests from losing your keys or leaving your door unlocked. A win-win for everyone!
4. DO go the extra mile and add thoughtful touches to your vacation rental.
Small details can go a long way. They’re what can differentiate you from your competitors and elevate your status to an Airbnb Superhost. Provide items your guests might forget or wouldn’t want to lug with them when they travel, like a hair dryer, umbrella, coffee and spices. You can even add fun extras like board games, books, or a collection of movies. And make sure to include information on local attractions, like the best restaurant in town, or your favorite nail salon or massage therapist. There’s also this: Airbnb Superhosts consistently tell us that spending a little extra on luxurious, high-thread-count sheets and high-quality mattresses pays off in great reviews (everyone wants an excellent night’s sleep whether they’re traveling for work or leisure).
5. DO provide clear and frequent communication worthy of 5-star Airbnb reviews.
As any good Airbnb Superhost knows, communication is key when building a strong vacation rental business. So much so, Airbnb hosts have to maintain a response rate of 90% or higher to maintain their Superhost status. To meet this rate, a good rule of thumb is to treat each guest as if it’s their first time booking a vacation rental. Make yourself as accessible as possible— answering any questions and problem-solving when issues arise.
If you’re not local or aren’t able to be around 24/7, you can still implement strategies that will help answer guest questions when you’re not there. For instance, hire a local contact who can be available around the clock for any guest needs (many cities require this as a condition for granting a vacation-rental permit). Find out during booking if your guests have any special things they’d like to do while visiting and offer to book activities for them in advance (and get them a great discount to boot). Airbnb also has helpful communication tools like “quick replies,” which provide templatized answers to common guest questions.
6. DO prompt your guests to leave 5-star Airbnb reviews.
It’s totally okay to explain how the Airbnb review system works. Many guests will give a lower review for something minor, having no idea that 5-star Airbnb reviews majorly impact vacation rental owners. You can combat this by breaking down how the system works in your property welcome book, as well as highlighting how important a 5-star review is to your business.
You can also add targeted messaging to your check-in communication, asking guests if they have any questions and reminding them that you want them to have a 5-star experience. Similarly, you can send a prompter with your check-out message, asking for feedback to help you reach 5 stars.
7. DON’T get defensive if a guest leaves anything less than a 5-star Airbnb review.
Even when you’ve done everything possible to provide the best experience for your guests, there will still be the occasional subpar review. Stay calm and use it as an opportunity to learn how to improve your vacation rental and provide a better stay for future guests.
Responding rationally and politely to your public Airbnb reviews is a great way to make amends with disgruntled guests. Plus, it shows others you care. It’s totally fine to point out if your listing is already transparent about the issue they may be “docking” you for. But don’t ever use a reactive or acrimonious tone. Other potential guests will see that you’re an active host with great communication skills—allowing you to flip a negative into a positive. And who doesn’t love that? Just make sure you’re responding to the good reviews as well so that your 5-star Airbnb reviews also shine!