Back in October, we rented an apartment in Bali for a few days through Airbnb. Like all of our Airbnb experiences, the host was nice, everything went smoothly, and we had a great time. Something interesting happened after we checked out though.
After we checked out, I left this review:
I thought I was really fair. I didn’t want to be mean, just honest. I made it very clear that despite the downsides of the apartment, I’m glad we stayed there and we had a good time. But a few hours later, this was the response I got from the host:
I never even bothered responding to him because I found his comment so ridiculous that it wasn’t worth my time. But it did get me thinking about the importance of leaving reviews online.
Let me first start off by saying, I did NOT exaggerate the bug issue. This picture was taken the moment we walked in the door:
Now, on to the host’s point about really caring about the reputation of the room and not wanting to inconvenience his guest. Well, guess what, buddy, you already failed at that. WE were your guests, so if you really did care about this apartment, you would’ve cleaned it before we arrived. Success is built by doing the right thing and providing a good service, not by guilting people into lying online for you.
While that made me mad, it was him asking me to edit my review that really got to me. Why?
Because the point of leaving online reviews is not to serve him or any other host or service provider, it’s to serve you, our fellow travelers.
I have zero allegiance whatsoever to this guy. Who I do have an obligation to is anyone who’s considering staying at this guy’s apartment after me. To that person, I am socially obligated to tell the truth, to give my honest opinion, and leave it to them to decide if they want to stay there too.
I’m not going to protect this guy’s back and let my fellow globetrotters walk unexpectedly into a swamp of insects. Nor do I want them to miss out on the great location, comfortable bed, and delicious breakfast his apartment provided us.
I’ve always placed a great deal of importance in leaving online reviews. It’s the third most important factor we consider after price and location. But this experience has cemented the value of online reviews for me even more.
We are a community of people — of travelers and consumers. It is our duty to have each other’s back, even if we never meet. We need to be able to trust each other to help us make the right decisions. But that only happens when each and every one of us shoulders the responsibility of being honest and upfront in what we say and do.