Airbnb revamps reviews to encourage more honesty

Airbnb hosts and guests live and die by their reviews. If someone leaves negative comments on your profile, others will be less likely to stay with you, or to let you stay with them. So Airbnb is making a few changes to make that feedback less fraught.

How it worked in the past: Airbnb users had 30 days to leave a review of the experience, and someone always had to make the first move.

“Both hosts and guests may worry that if they leave an honest review that includes praise and criticism, they might receive an unfairly critical review in response,” the company said Thursday. “To address this concern, reviews will be revealed to hosts and guests simultaneously.”

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Airbnb has shortened the period of time you have to leave a review to two weeks from one month, after finding that 90 percent of people who are going to offer feedback do so in the first 14 days. Once that time is up, both reviews go public. If you haven’t left a review, too bad—the other person’s review will be shown to the world. Airbnb is now asking guests to share one thing they loved and one thing they thought the host could improve for future stays, but that private feedback won’t be shared publicly.

The company said it plans to continue to improve reviews and profiles to make them more informative. The so-called sharing economy is based on opening up your life to complete strangers—letting them into your home, giving them rides in your car, or even making meals for them. Reviews on these platforms define your reputation and can affect your ability to make money.

Airbnb also came under fire after a guest with positive reviews used a New York apartment to host an orgy earlier this year. If it was the first instance of such behavior, a better review system would have done little to prevent the situation from happening, but maybe the new review policy will reduce future surprises.

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