When you see an Airbnb listing with hundreds of glossy ratings, you may have wondered whether it’s possible to buy Airbnb reviews. After all, bought reviews are a popular tactic on e-marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and Fiverr. So, can you and should you buy Airbnb reviews? Let’s find out.
How can you buy Airbnb reviews?
The short answer is that it isn’t easy to buy Airbnb reviews. In fact, it can be riskier than it’s worth. Unlike other marketplaces, on Airbnb paying guests are “invited” to leave a review. This means you need to have completed a stay to leave a review. That contrasts with e-commerce sites like Amazon, where having previously paid for the product is not a requirement for leaving a review.
The “overnight sensation”: can you boost reviews with one-night stays?
Customer reviews can make or break your Airbnb listing—so it’s no surprise that many people look for different ways to rake in 5-star reviews. Booking several one-night stays is a tactic that hosts and managers might use to boost the number of positive reviews on their properties.
Smart, but not smart enough. Airbnb has sophisticated algorithms that will spot any suspicious manipulation of the review system. Even if you create an account and book your rental for a short occupancy of one night, that would create a red flag. It’s fairly simple for the algorithm and metrics to detect a series of newly-created accounts that book for one or two nights and leave 5-star reviews.
The main issue with this is that, if you receive too many red flags, Airbnb has the right to ban your account. And if there’s one thing worse than a listing with no guest reviews, it’s a blocked Airbnb account.
What about diversifying the length of stay?
So, one or two-night stays don’t work. What about longer bookings?
Varying the length of occupancy through your fake accounts doesn’t work either. Plus, when you’re doing this, you’re just depriving yourself of actual earned income.
Crucially, you’re also wasting a valuable resource: the SEO boost in rankings that Airbnb gives all new listings. In short, when you create a new listing, Airbnb bumps your property to the first page of results. It’s a way for Airbnb to see if potential guests are interested in your offering. It also helps Airbnb determine if your listing should be prioritized in future searches after the initial grace period.
Those first few weeks are key. While you could be attracting real reservations and earning income in the first couple of months your listing is live, you’ll be wasting time booking up slots for the sake of fake reviews. What you could be taking advantage of are real customer reviews—as well as maximizing your earning potential.
Hiring services to get reviews through real reservations? Still a bad idea
You can probably find a vendor on Fiverr or other corners of the internet that will actually book a reservation with a bunch of different accounts. Essentially, you pay them upfront, they book, and you get a nice 5-star customer review.
This is a bad idea. That vendor you found is offering services to other hosts and short-term rental managers, which means they could be careless about booking overlapping nights from the same account. This will probably get flagged by Airbnb. It’s easy for Airbnb to then detect misuse and manipulation of the review system, and put a penalty on the listings that used the service.
Using these services can also make you vulnerable to scams. Our recommendation would be to avoid them, but if you go down that route, be hyper-cautious about anything that feels a little off.
Too many 5-star reviews can look suspicious
However aspirational it may seem, a perfect 5-star score is actually fairly unrealistic. Online potential customers today are used to keeping an eye out for anything that seems too good to be true, so a perfect score might even raise more eyebrows than one or two bad reviews.
At Hostfully, we work with many professional vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts—and even the very best service providers don’t have a spotless 5-star score. If you get a negative review, don’t fret about it and risk getting banned using shady tactics. Just stick to responding to the review, and work to bury it with other positive reviews.
In fact, getting a negative review can give you the opportunity to put your customer service skills on display. A professional, helpful response will help potential guests get a better idea of who you are, and how you’ll deal with any issues that arise.
4 Alternatives to buying Airbnb reviews
It’s clear that buying fake reviews isn’t the best idea. So, what can be done instead? There are other ways you can boost your listing without taking the risk of damaging your Airbnb business, and plenty of ways to earn those 5-star ratings organically.
Beyond reviews themselves, honing in on those parts of your business that could be preventing growth is a necessary step to getting more properties, and more bookings. Our maturity model is an ideal roadmap for growing Airbnb hosts and vacation rentals businesses, giving a complete overview of how you can scale core operations and processes.
To help convert bookings to guest reviews, here are some easy tips to implement:
Use your Airbnb search boost wisely, then invite friends
Remember earlier when we mentioned the SEO boost Airbnb gives to new listings? You can take advantage of this and also ‘buy’ reviews:
- List the property to get that SEO boost in Airbnb search rankings.
- When you notice higher vacancies, invite a friend or family member to stay for a night from a real account during the gap days (also called ‘orphan days’).
- Refund your friend via an e-transfer or PayPal.
This may not be totally ethical, but it is a secure way to get a few 5-star reviews without compromising the integrity of your Airbnb business.
Boost your total review count by asking
If this sounds very simple, it’s because it is. Many guests won’t feel compelled to leave a good review, even if their stay has been great. On the other hand, a disappointing stay is more likely to prompt a guest to leave a bad review.
If a stay has gone well, simply asking your guests for their feedback is often incentive enough for them to leave a positive review. For many, leaving a 5-star review would be an afterthought, so simply asking them to rate their stay is always the way to go.
To make this step even simpler, you can use automation to ask the guest to leave you a review. You could also do it manually, but this is time-consuming. Scheduling an automated message to your guests after check out is an easy step that can leave you with significantly more high-scoring reviews.
Review your guest before they review you
This is based on the principle of reciprocity. If you review your guests first, they’ll see that they were reviewed, open it out of curiosity, and most likely respond. This is even more effective if you send out a reminder in follow up to your review.
If you use property management software (PMS), you can automate your guest reviews to ensure this gets done after each check-out. Depending on your PMS, simply load up pre-written guest review templates. Once a guest checks out and you’ve made sure the property was left in good working order, the PMS will leave a guest review.
The holy grail of guest experience: good wifi, self-check-in, and spotless cleaning
The pandemic meant that people were cooped up inside, unable to travel. When the opportunity arises, people are now even more eager than they were pre-pandemic to explore a new city or country. Providing guests with a beautiful, clean vacation rental (with a reasonable cleaning fee) will be the icing on the cake. Maybe throw in a smart TV that can connect to Netflix, and 99% of your guests will be more than satisfied during their stay.
This is perhaps the most simple but important advice we have to give: provide a top-quality rental experience for your guests, and you’ll get your fair share of 4 and 5-star reviews.
If you’re looking to go the extra mile for guest experience, take a look at how our guidebooks can help you offer a personalized and seamless service throughout every stay.
Focus on the tried and tested methods for 5-star reviews
Ensuring that your rentals make an impression—from the first point of contact until the end of a stay—is essential. Simple tips can boost engagement and lead to bookings without having to buy fake reviews. Focus on maintaining great properties and attentive guest services, and your ratings will speak for themselves.