Happily Ever Travels

Should You Book an Airbnb with No Reviews? What You Need to Know

By: Author Dayna Brockbank

Posted on Last updated: March 3, 2023

Categories Budget Travel Tips

Are you considering booking an Airbnb with no reviews? Here is everything you need to know BEFORE you book, or whether you should consider booking it at all! You definitely want your trip to be memorable, but you also could be setting yourself up for a bit of a disaster. Make sure you’re prepared first with these tips.

1. No Reviews? It’s a New Listing

This might seem obvious, but if the Airbnb you are looking at has no reviews, it is a brand spanking new listing. The host is most likely really hoping you take a risk on their property and book it anyway!

One way to calm your fears about the listing is by checking the other reviews that the host has for other properties.

No Reviews Yet for an Airbnb Listing

If they have a good reputation, it’s unlikely that the Airbnb will be a total disaster. However, nothing is guaranteed! In fact, even if the place DID have reviews, it wouldn’t be a guaranteed good experience.

I had my clothes held for ransom at an Airbnb from a terrible host who had pretty good reviews! Don’t worry, Airbnb had my back, like always, and got me my money (and clothes) back.

2 Cheaper Prices…But Beware of Fake Listings

One of the main reasons why you might consider renting an Airbnb that has no reviews is because it may be a bit cheaper than the other options.

Since the listing is new, the owner may lower the price to encourage people to stay there and then raise the price after the listing gets a few reviews.

However, some of these listings may not be real at all. If the price is WAY too good of a deal and the photos look too good to be true, it is most likely a fake listing.

If the description in the listing is way too short or isn’t filled out at all, that is definitely a red flag. Here are some red flags to look out for:

To find out if a host is verified, click on the host’s picture where it will tell you immediately if they have had their identity verified or not. If they only have a phone number listed then they are not verified, which means they haven’t sent in their ID to Airbnb.

I don’t really understand why fake listings exist since Airbnb is going to give your money back if you show up to a fake listing, but either way, you should be wary of those types of listings.

If the listing looks real, you still have a few things you need to worry about. Even though the Airbnb may be cheaper than other listings, you need to consider that the price may not be worth it!

There are many things that could go wrong (we’ll go into these in more detail in a bit) but if you are willing to risk a bit to save some money, you may want to go ahead and book! But first, keep reading!

3.Consider Who You are Traveling With

Not everyone who is traveling with you may be interested in taking the risk that comes with an Airbnb with no reviews. Since a lot of things could go wrong (Airbnb isn’t clean, ready or doesn’t look like the pictures, etc) you need to consider the people you are with.

Have they traveled a lot before? If this is a once-a-year trip, then they most likely wouldn’t be willing to waste time searching for another Airbnb last minute.

However, if they’ve traveled a lot before and have experience, a few bumps in the road may not be a problem after all.

If you are traveling with family or a bigger group of people, it will be a lot more difficult to book a place last minute.

Also, since traveling with family comes with its own stressors, you might not want to add to that with a bad Airbnb experience!

5 girls traveling in Hawaii

Another thing to consider is traveling to your next accommodation late at night if you are traveling with children or by yourself.

4.Think About the Length of Your Stay

How long is the stay in your Airbnb going to be? Or how long do you plan to stay in that city? If you’ll only be there for a few nights it may not be worth it to take the risk that this listing is not as good as it seems.

Let someone else take the risk to help that listing start getting their first reviews, meanwhile, you could stay in a place that has been vetted by many other renters.

5.Consider the Cost of Switching Last Minute: Are you in an Expensive City?

Where are you traveling and how far in advance did you need to book to find a place?

If you are traveling to a popular city like Paris or London, you’ll be needing to book accommodation much more in advance than if you were traveling to a smaller town or city.

Eiffel tower in Paris, France

If that is the case, and you book an Airbnb that doesn’t have any reviews, you may not have any options left if something goes wrong. Either all the places will be booked already, or the ones available last minute may be way out of a reasonable budget.

Consider where you’re traveling to carefully before booking an Airbnb with no reviews!

6.The Airbnb Might Not Match the Pictures

As you know, if you are booking a place that hasn’t received any reviews yet, it may not look like it was advertised. However, if you prepare yourself (and hopefully you got a good deal!) you may still want to stay.

Of course, if you get there and you find that it looks completely different than the pictures online, you can leave if you choose to. But if the Airbnb is clean and in a good location, maybe it would be worth staying anyway!

You can warn future travelers about the discrepancies, but still get a good deal!

In a worst-case scenario situation, the Airbnb is unlivable and dirty and you will have to leave. In that case, you’ll definitely want to leave (don’t worry, Airbnb will refund you!) and find a different place to stay.

This happened to Jake and me in Merida, Mexico where we showed up at an Airbnb that was built inside a public restroom (didn’t look like the photos!!), and the bedsheets were covered in hair.

ruins in Merida, Mexico

I honestly have no idea how they transformed this bathroom into an Airbnb (seriously, there was a stall and everything!) but we got out of there ASAP and found a different booking. Which brings me to my next point…

7.Have a Backup Plan or Airbnb

If you do plan to book the Airbnb, make sure that you have a backup plan. Or at least be prepared for the inconvenience of having to change accommodations possibly late at night when stress can be high.

You might also be in a new country, without a SIM card and no way to get wifi (Sorry, I just have to prepare you for the worst because this is exactly what happened to me!)

So what will you do? If you’ve been traveling for a while or have been on a lot of budget trips, this may sound like a normal occasion for you.

If not, this is definitely something that should deter you from booking an Airbnb with no reviews (or even just a few reviews!)

Ninh Binh, Vietnam

In our case, we noticed there was free wifi at the bus stop where we had come into the city, so we packed up our stuff and went there. I sat there in the bus station while Jake found a new place with lots of good reviews, booked it, and then we were off.

Just be ready, since they do say that whenever it rains, it pours. This is almost always the case when traveling!

8.You Might Have a Good Story to Tell Afterward

All of the bad aside, even the worst experiences can be a blast if you like that kind of thing! (I usually do, but I also have my moments lol) But when you are traveling, the best part is when things don’t go right sometimes.

You can get a good laugh out of finding a spider as big as your hand crawling over the public toilet of an Airbnb that you booked (I forgot to mention that part!!)

Just the ridiculousness of the situation can make it more memorable. Plus, nothing like that could happen to you in the safety of your home…which is why you’re traveling, right?!

What are you going to talk about when you get home and are sharing your trip with your friends and family?

Will you mention how beautiful seeing Mt. Everest in person was, or will you talk about how you were served expired ketchup spaghetti for dinner? If you’re looking for a good time, go ahead and book that Airbnb with no reviews.

It may be the riskiest move you’ve made and with the right attitude, it could be rewarding either way!

girl hiking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal

Read More About Airbnb:

should you book an airbnb with no reviews

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Hey! I read your post earlier today as I was suspicious of a 'too good to be true' listing with no reviews. Turns out it was fake. There was lots of red flags, but the thing that sealed the deal was to right click on some of the images and try Google Lens. This is a tool that matches the image across the internet. So I found out that the images of the supposed flat in Amsterdam was actually from a hotel in Kuala Lumpur...Insane. So please please check the images, it saved my bacon!

Monday 4th of January 2021

Thank you for this post!! As an Air BNB newbie, I will definitely be referencing this post when I book Air BNB in the future! Thank you!

Should You Book an Airbnb That Has No Reviews?

While looking through a particularly beautiful Airbnb listing, you might think to yourself: This place is too good to be true. You browse the listing’s photos, read about its amenities—which include a pool and a sundeck—and it’s around this time when you discover the listing has zero reviews.

For the most part, there’s a pretty simple explanation: The listing is new and hasn’t received enough or any guests to review it. In other instances, however, it’s entirely possible you’re buying into a scam , though Airbnb claims to perform background checks on at least some of its members. Before you book an Airbnb with little or no reviews, it’s important to take a closer look at the listing and contact the host before completing the reservation.

Avoid contact outside of Airbnb’s direct messaging system

In most instances, requesting an Airbnb is fairly simple: You choose your dates, request the reservation, and a host accepts your request. (Using Airbnb’s “Instant Booking” feature for some listings, this process happens automatically. For the vast majority of listings, however, a host must personally accept a reservation.)

Wayfair Surplus Sale

Shop sales in every category. Uh-oh, overstock: Wayfair put their surplus on sale for up to 50% off.

You might find that a host will reach out before or after accepting a request, even asking for an email address to contact you. Here’s why this could raise a red flag, especially regarding listings with zero reviews: Your host will already have the ability to email you after a confirmed reservation and shouldn’t need your personal address.

Airbnb sets up anonymized, temporary email addresses between you and your host once they’ve confirmed your stay; any emails to your temporary Airbnb email address will be forwarded to your personal email address. (Your host has no way of finding your actual email address unless you decide to provide it.)

Once you move from Airbnb’s messaging system to personal email addresses, you’re no longer protected by Airbnb. If there’s an issue with the listing, Airbnb can usually look at your messaging history to help resolve the issue, which presents problems for those who’ve made contact via their personal email addresses.

Of course, not every email is a scam; in the past, I’ve provided an email address to hosts with excellent reviews who have provided directions, photos or have asked for my full name for identification purposes. (In Japan, hosts are required by law to ask for copies of your passport, for example.) If you’re dealing with a host with no reviews, however, there’s no reason you can’t politely ask to keep conversations to Airbnb’s messaging system. Also, you should do an online search for your destination’s particular laws regarding Airbnb listings in case a host asks for travel documents—the easiest way to to do this is just to search for the country and “Airbnb.”

If you do make contact via email, scrutinize the email carefully and avoid clicking on links that ask for your information, as part of possible phishing scams. Airbnb also warns its guests of advance fee scams —when a host provides an especially good deal if you pay through a service outside of Airbnb. This is another huge red flag: You shouldn’t pay any part of a fee directly to a host.

Scrutinize the listing itself

If a price is too good to be true, especially when comparing it to other available listings at your destination, that’s another reason to be a little skeptical (though new hosts may offer a slightly reduced price to remain competitive). Here are a few other things you should ask yourself before booking:

Send the host a message

Before you request, it doesn’t hurt to send a simple message to a host with no reviews, asking something simple like “Is the listing new?” or just requesting more photos of the listing itself. You can use their response (and how quickly they respond) to judge for yourself whether the host is a credible one.

“Try sending a message to confirm the dates you are interested in are available & come up w a reasonable question not answered in the listing (such as proximity to a grocery store),” u/lemonsqueeziee suggested on a recent Reddit thread .

And if you do end up having an excellent stay, leave the host a stellar review; this will benefit the host and future guests looking for a place to stay so they aren’t left in the same position as you once were.

For more from Lifehacker, be sure to follow us on Instagram @lifehackerdotcom .

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Host On Airbnb With No Reviews – Should I Consider Another Booking?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my  disclosure policy .

Airbnb host with no reviews

It has become a common practice to check online reviews before purchasing or making any reservation. Therefore, reviews play an important role in boosting a business. Similarly, reviews are one of the key factors for an Airbnb host to get bookings. A listing on Airbnb with no reviews will probably make people to move on to the next one.

We cannot deny the fact that Airbnb hosts that have more positive reviews are more reliable. Reviews are a sign of credibility more than the description of the place and pictures.

So, what should you do when you really like the place, but it’s Airbnb with no reviews? Should you not book them, given that the location and pictures are excellent? Or should you give them the benefit of the doubt?

Let’s discuss further what you should do when you encounter Airbnb with no reviews.

Are you concerned about booking Airbnb with no reviews?

Your concern is justified when it comes to booking an Airbnb rental. You might not know the location you’re going to visit. No reviews mean the host has no credibility; booking such a rental is aiming an arrow in the dark.

Don’t worry, if you like the place and the only problem is Airbnb with no reviews.  There are ways you can check a host’s reliability and services.

1-Critically analyze description and photos

Yes, the description can be misguiding, and pictures can be fake, so you must give a critical eye to both in the listing. It’s not easy to fake them both; you can quickly identify if the host is misleading their guests about their rental.

One cannot write paragraphs and paragraphs describing something that is not essential there. Either they will write the ‘too good to be true kind of description, or they end up with a caption that would show not much of an effort.

All you need to do is to look out for the inconsistencies in their listings. Making up specifics isn’t that easy and is easy to spot as fake if it shows inconsistencies.

Make sure to thoroughly give a read to how a host is describing the anterior of their Airbnb with no reviews. Look out of these descriptions matches with the pictures.

Have the host included the floor plan in the photos? Does this floor plan match the exterior picture and the description? If you spot any inconsistency, then the host might be faking it.

For instance, if the host describes the Airbnb rental as balconies facing the sea or any good view and you spot no balcony in the exterior picture, then you know there’s something fishy. This is one of the obvious ways to check the reliability of Airbnb with no reviews.

Other big red flags to look for are whether the host uploaded the pictures of the house’s only exterior or just only one room. If they do have photos of other rooms, make sure they match with the exterior design because most homeowners keep the theme of interiors and exterior of the place the same. You wouldn’t see a modern and sleek bungalow with rustic and hippie settings inside.

2- Cross-reference with other short-term rental websites

There’s a chance that a rental on Airbnb with no reviews on the Airbnb site is more reviewed on the other sites.

Most Airbnb hosts list their places on Airbnb sites only rather than cross-list on other sites like HomeAway and VBRO.

If you search for similar specifics on the other website, you might get the same results. If Airbnb with no reviews had no listing on other sites when you typed the same criteria, then there’s a possibility this listing is not accurate.

If you find the same rental on another site, then dig a little deeper into the details and reviews. If all of the other websites have the same vague description and pictures, then there’s a chance the host you are dealing with is a scammer.

3- Contact the host

One of the most impeccable and convenient features of Airbnb is that you can contact the host before booking their rental.

Use this feature and ask every question that you have in mind about their place. Ask them if their listing is new or they haven’t welcomed many guests as of yet. If a person is a scammer, he will give non-descriptive answers. They won’t be able to reply in a satisfactory tone. There’s a thing; when you lie, you give pauses in the conversation more than required or add fillers while talking. Take that hint and never book that Airbnb.

If their answers seem convincing, ask them about their interior or exterior in a general conversational tone. The chances are that hosts might not give a second thought when answering about their own place if the listing is legit, but they might not give the little details about the area when they are faking their conversation.

4- Avoid contact with the host outside the Airbnb site

Requesting for an Airbnb is pretty straightforward. You just choose your desired dates and ask the host for a reservation.

If a host tries to reach out to you after or before making a reservation, asking for a contact number or email address to connect to you, this is a red flag.

While many hosts with excellent reviews do contact outside the Airbnb site, but the case here is that it’s Airbnb with no reviews.

5- Trust your gut before booking Airbnb with no reviews

You know when you encounter a scammer or legitimate host. There’s a sixth sense telling you there’s something sketchy about the listing.

They say even the most robust thief leaves a small clue; the key is to look for it. When things seem too glammy and glittery in the listing and the place has no reviews, you obviously wouldn’t want to book it.

Similarly, if the host barely makes an effort to write a description or upload a photo, don’t book them. If you have a great stay at an Airbnb with no review, give a stellar review and help their listing grow.

Airbnb provides an anonymized email address between the host and the guest once there is a confirmation about the booking.

If you try to contact outside the site, Airbnb might not provide you the security then. Airbnb usually resolves issues after going through the chat, but when they observe no meaningful conversation between you and the host, they might not help you.

Also Read my Article How to Write An Incredible Airbnb Description?

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Is it ok to book a place with no reviews?

booking airbnb without reviews

Ive never used Airbnb so i dont really know, but im just trying to find a cheap place to stay in this city i’m going to be in in June, and all the airbnb’s are expensive except a couple, but there so far out of the way that i dont think they’re worth it.

I found one place that looks decent from the photos, and in a great location, but it doesn’t have any reviews, and the page says that it’s new. Is it ok to book a place like that? Also they are only verified by email and phone #. it safe?

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I wouldn't. I always contact the host first

One of our nicest stays was in a brand new listing with no reviews. We were literally the first guests! Everything was brand-spanking new and exactly like the photos. The price was right because the host needed guests willing to take a risk on a new listing. I did check out google maps street view ahead of time to make sure the photos lined up and it wasn't a scam, though.

I’m a host with just one property, and Airbnb made me set my prices low to start with. We’ve had four different stays all with five stars. One thing I hear is, “this is much better than we were expecting”. I would give it a chance.

If you’re brand new, you don’t have any reviews either. Everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe they didn’t finish setting up their account, and that is why they have not been verified? Reach out and start a conversation with the host. If there are red flags, move on.

Second this! I am a new host and had a few guests message and ask why we don’t have any reviews prior to booking. We explained that it’s a new listing and they didn’t have a problem with it once we had a conversation.

I mean you are booking with less than two months to go in what in many areas is peak traveling season. I think you should have realistic expectations regarding the price of whatever accommodation you end up booking.

I've done new listing bookings but only in cases where the host had other properties. I wouldn't book a new host listing if I had other options.

If nobody books a place with no reviews, eventually the whole system falls apart. I've booked places with no reviews — you're taking a chance, of course, and it should presumably be more bang for the buck in that area.

Even though they dont have their identity verified? Isnt that kinda suspicious? I could be wrong obvi, i’ve just never done this before so i’m nervous lol

It's ok, I allow it.

Take one for the team.

Gotta start somewhere.. have a dialogue with the new host, interview them persay.. I would also want to get a better deal do to them being new and they need bookings and reviews.. I would ask for at least 10-20 % under market for that listing..

Lots of host will not accept bookings from guest with zero reviews, you are on the same playing field as a host with no reviews, you are both taking a risk. Just remember every rental had zero reviews at one point in time, just like every guest. I would have no problem booking this place.

Never book places with no reviews. I know not all listings are bad but be warned.

You're almost guaranteed to have something missing. I've been to one and some essential stuff was not there which is pretty obvious once you have a few people go through the apartment.

Does the host have a high response % (look at the bottom of the listing)? Or is it a dead listing?

If the price is right, and they respond to your message (ask them questions), then take the risk if you want. I've done it without regrets.

I wouldn't recommend air bnb at all. You would be better off in an in expensive motel. It will be cheaper and you know what to expect. Plus if you are dissatisfied in anyway it is highly unlikely you will get any help with your issue. Air BnB basically puts everything on the individual host and with no reviews... who knows what you are going to get.

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Red Flags to Look for When Renting on Airbnb (Airbnb Guest with No Reviews)

guest with no reviews airbnb

Last updated on November 8th, 2022

airbnb guest with no reviews

Being a host is never an easy task. For beginners, some of the tasks that  you have to take care of are marketing your listings, communicating with guests, and property management. Recently, hosts have started to report scams and illegal activities that have started taking place due to the  massive reach & popularity of short-term rental platforms..

These people are taking advantage of hosts and their property by finding a loophole in the system and are usually Airbnb guests with no reviews. In this blog, we surveyed over 100+ super hosts to take note of thered flagswhen renting your property on Airbnb and make the best decisions when onboarding an Airbnb guest with no reviews. Continue reading to learn more!  

1. Airbnb Guest with No Reviews

airbnb guest with no reviews

When you come up with profiles with no single reviews,this could indicate that the person is using Airbnb for the first time or has created a duplicate account. It gets very hard to judge guests based on their type of profiles. Your best bet here would be to communicate with the guest and request them to complete their profiles. This is especially necessary if they already don’t have an ID and photos. Here are some of the questions that hosts can ask Airbnb guests with no reviews:

At the same time, hosts can also use this simple message template for Airbnb guests with no reviews but are showing interest in the property.

Hey there {{guest’s name}}

Thank you for showing interest in my property and welcome to the Airbnb community. As your host, I want to make sure that your first stay with us will go smoothly. Before I approve your booking, please verify your profile photo with a government ID & kindly fulfill the required information below:

1). Brief information about your stay & number of guests

2) What brings you to the neighborhood & what are your expectations?

I look forward to approving your request pending this information.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

{{Host name}}

2. Not reading/following the rules and guidelines

To avoid Airbnb guests from having last-minute changes such as bringing extra people or pets, it’s ideal to remind them of the rules and regulations prior to confirming their stay. Although this isn’t always a red flag, Airbnb guests who keep changing their statements that are against rules and regulations should be reminded to read the listings to avoid complaints and confusion.

3. Having inappropriate photos or no photos

Similar to Airbnb no review guest’s account ,an Airbnb guest withr inappropriate photos or photos that don’t show their face clearly could be considered a red flag. Having no photo might also indicate that the profile is new, and if that is the case, you can request the guest to update his/her profile using the message template indicated above. If they hesitate to upload a photo or the uploaded photos seem altered, then it is certainly  a red flag. As an Airbnb host,you should ask for proper verification in case of any suspicion before confirming the stay.  

4. Convincing to book a listing outside of Airbnb

If a guest is trying to use alternate methods to share his number to book the Airbnb listing, then it’s a major red flag. Keeping all the chats and conversations on the Airbnb app is really important. This is truly necessary in case there are some damages to the property or any other mishappening during theguest’s stay. It alsohelps you to be on the safe side in terms of receiving the money and having proof of conversation in case of any legal action. Taking the conversation on some other platform will not only increase the chances of a scam, but it’ll also leave you stranded without anyone to reach out for help in case of a mishap.

5. Unconventional name or email

In 2022,getting a decent email without numbers and weird symbols are next to impossible. While there are some odd emails that use  offensive words, sexist or racist remarks,this can be a red flag as a lot of scammers use pseudo emails to make Airbnb accounts. It’s important to be aware of unconventional names or emails as these people often do this to prevent leaving traces of their personal identity in case of any investigation.  

6. Broken language

Many times, scammers who pretend to be Airbnb guests run bots and reach out to multiple hosts at once. They send them personalized messages based on their listing using learning bots. You can identify these messages if the grammar is incorrect or the sentence doesn’t make any grammatical sense. Usually, these bots have the conversion for a few seconds until some human switches over. You need to be careful and look for these types of sentences that sound auto-generated by a bot.

7. Exchanging services in return for a stay

Another red flag: if a guest offers to clean the house in return for a stay instead of paying money or doing any other service. The chances of that person leaving without cleaning the place are very high, and at the same time, this is not a good practice to follow as an Airbnb host. It’s still advisable to et have your property be  cleaned by a reliable cleaner or cleaning services  as the chances of getting scammed are very high in these types of situation.

8. Asking the right screening questions 

If the Airbnb guests are local and staying for one night, you may want to ask their motive for visiting the property and confirm if they agree with your house policies. If they are visiting from outside of town, you can casually ask what they would like to do in the city. This way, you can easily identify the intention of guests while  giving some helpful suggestions depending on what they want to do.

9. Do what your gut says

Sometimes you don’t need any red flags. If you have a feeling of uncertainty when giving your property to a guest based on his/her profile and messages, it is best to drop that guest as your gut instinct is right – most of the time.

When to take the risk of accepting bookings from Airbnb guests with no reviews?

While there are red flags to look out for when accepting Airbnb guests, it’s important to take note that there are some Airbnb guests who might have difficulty creating their accounts as they are new on the platform. Here are some of the go signals for Airbnb hosts to take the risk:

1. Airbnb guest provides necessary data

If you require the guest to provide a valid government ID and a clear photo, and they promptly followed along with a clear intention of their purpose of visit, then your worries should at least be minimized.

2. Airbnb guest instantly confirms payment

The majority of Airbnb hosts are usually worried about guests with no reviews because they might be a no-show and waste the bookings on their calendar. However, if the Airbnb guest instantly confirms their payment online, then it’s recommended to take the risk (and still follow the mentioned precautions).

3. Airbnb guest is willing to go through security checks & verify account

Airbnb guests who are willing to go through security checks & verification on the platform should be considered as a go signal for hosts to accept the booking. At the same time, it’s necessary for Airbnb hosts to make sure that the guests are responsive and agree to the rules & regulations of your property.

Check out our other blog Should Airbnb hosts engage in Airbnb Experiences?

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Rental Recon

The Airbnb Host Has No Reviews [2023]: Should I Be Concerned?

Reviews are extremely important to an Airbnb host. They are the major factor that contributes to guests booking a stay, and they hold much more sway than a description or even a photo provided by a host. 

booking airbnb without reviews

We all have to start somewhere, so you shouldn’t automatically discount someone based on lack of reviews alone. However, there are some additional precautions you should take in order to make sure you book a reputable listing.  

Should I be Concerned that an Airbnb Host has no Reviews? Not Necessarily, but You’ll Also Need to…

Read below for some detailed tips and tricks on how to avoid suspicious listings on Airbnb.

Look For Detailed Photos and Descriptions

Descriptions can be faked, but not believably and definitely not easily. It is harder than you’d think to come up with paragraphs worth of detailed information about a made up (or greatly embellished) house. 

Be on the lookout for inconsistencies in the listing. As we mentioned, specifics are hard to fake and extremely easy to spot when inconsistent. How does the host describe the atmosphere of the rental? How many rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. 

Do they include a floorplan in the photos? This is one of the most obvious ways to spot a fake. If the exterior photo of the house looks completely inconsistent with the floorplan or description, it probably is! 

In that same vein, are all the photos of the exterior of the rental? Just the interior? Just one room? These are all big red flags . They could be images pulled from the internet, or they could be hiding the rest of the home intentionally. 

USB Alarm Clock Airbnb

Check Out This Rental Recon Article: Airbnb Essentials: 75+ Items Every Host Should Have For Guests

Cross-Reference Other Websites

Many Airbnb hosts cross-list their rentals on other sites like VRBO and HomeAway . If you search for similar criteria on these websites, can you find the same listing? If not, this does not necessarily mean that the listing isn’t real.

However, if you do find the same rental you’ll definitely want to dig deeper. If there are any reviews on another website, check them out. Also check for other pictures or details. If all of the websites have no reviews and the same vague photos and information, that’s a sign that you may be dealing with a scammer. 

Contact Them

A great feature of Airbnb is that you can contact the host prior to booking a listing. Use this opportunity to ask lots of questions, particularly centered around whether they are new to hosting. If they continue to be non-descriptive or cannot provide satisfactory answers, don’t book with them. 

Use Your Judgement

If you’re reading this article, you have most likely been considering staying with a host who has no reviews. Again, this is by no means guaranteed to be a bad situation. However, trust your gut and never go somewhere that you aren’t comfortable.

If you’re concerned about your money in the event of a scam, read up on how Airbnb payments work . Airbnb is usually very good about refunding money in the case of extenuating circumstances such as someone misrepresenting themselves. 

If you’ve already booked but are getting cold feet, Airbnb does have a somewhat strict guest refund and cancellation policy . Cancelling can reflect negatively on your rating, and sometimes (depending on the terms of your booking) you may not get all your money back. However, this should not deter you if you feel unsafe or wary of your host or the listing itself. 

Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:

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Related Questions: 

Can you get scammed through Airbnb? 

While unlikely and uncommon, scammers exist everywhere (especially online). There are some simple steps you can take to screen out potentially sketchy listings and protect yourself from being scammed.

Beware of listings with very few photos and especially photos of the same things. This means that the host might be hiding something, or their listing isn’t real. In fact, just a year ago a British couple were scammed out of over $12,000 by a listing for a too-good-to-be-true vacation home that didn’t even exist!

Very short and vague descriptions are another red flag, as are multiple cancellations and prices that seem unbelievably good. Always use your judgement and don’t be afraid to ask questions! 

How do I contact an Airbnb host without booking?

It’s actually really simple. Just find the listing for the host you’re interested in, click on Contact Host, and fill out the questions it asks you. You aren’t committing to anything, and most hosts are very responsive via the Airbnb messaging system. Look here for more detailed directions. 

Airbnb doesn’t share hosts phone numbers or email addresses prior to booking for safety and privacy reasons. Once you’ve booked, however, you’ll be given more immediate access to your host. 

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Thibault Masson

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin .

From Vrbo to Airbnb: New listing, no reviews. How to break the curse of the Cold Start?

airbnb new listing no reviews

For local inhabitants and businesses, the disaster is also economic. Florida is a big travel market. With great beaches and world-famous attractions such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, the state attracts many families who book a vacation rental for their stay. Cities like Orlando and Kissimmee usually rank high in market size for vacation rental revenues.

You’ve probably experienced this vicious circle: Properties that already have a lot of good reviews rank higher on OTAs (online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking, and Vrbo), attract more travelers, and get more bookings. Properties new to a platform struggle to rank high and to create trust, as they have 0 reviews . No guest review, no booking. No booking, no guest review.

Let’s help you break this vicious circle. We’ll see that OTA (i.e. Online Travel Agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and Vrbo) platforms have embedded rules of the game that you need to know in order to play right. For instance, if you do not get at least 3 reviews , you cannot qualify for visibility programs such as Preferred on Booking and Premier Host on Vrbo.

We’ll look at data, which for instance confirm that a high number of good reviews correlate with high occupancy. We’ll talk about tactics to ensure that those initial customer reviews are positive. We’ll look at features and programs available on Airbnb, Booking, and Vrbo to get reviews fast. 

We’ll see how multi-property owners and property management companies can use the power of their existing properties to boost the visibility of their new listings.

The cold start effect: When new listings don’t have a rating score and thus get no bookings

Vacation rental owners and managers listing a new property on an OTA dread the cold start effect:

It can take a long time for a property to get its first review, let alone its 3rd: According to Transparent, it takes on average 116 days between 1st and 3rd review. So, upwards of 4 months until the badge and the virtuous circle of visibility and trust kick in.

So, how to kickstart this cycle faster? How do you secure the necessary bookings before you or the homeowner give up on an OTA?

Getting started and setting yourself up for success on a listing site is hard. Look at the programs that Airbnb, Vrbo, and RedAwning have created to bypass the Cold Start phase.

If you’ve been struggling to get your first reviews, get a review score badge, and enter the virtuous circle where more reviews = more trust = more bookings, then know that you are not alone.

It is actually an acute problem for listing sites and large property management companies. Airbnb, Vrbo, and Vacasa desperately want more properties. Any new host that starts listing their place on their website, gets stuck in the cold start phase, fails to get bookings, and decides to give up on the platform is an expensive failure for the platform.

As proof of how serious the problem is, let’s have a quick look at features and programs that these giants have put into place to circumvent the cold start. 

Vrbo – Fast Start

The aptly named “Fast Start” program wants to make new listings successful on Vrbo. Yet, it is not offered to everyone. The goal of Fast Start is to:

What does the Vrbo Fast Start program offer?

Airbnb – Upranking, New listing discount & Ask a Superhost

Airbnb offers three great examples that are witness to the reality of the Cold Start issue.

Does the program work? Brian Chesky, when presenting Airbnb’s Q3 financial results , said so:

“50% of new listings receive a booking in three days and 75% of new listings receive a booking within eight days.” Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO

RedAwning – Lightning Launch

We reviewed RedAwning’s Lightning Launch offer when it launched in May 2021. RedAwning also wants to attract supply. What is interesting here is that its package uses features only available to property managers to bypass the cold start phase.

What’s included in RedAwning’s Lightning Launch package:

While individuals listing a new place can only count on one property to get results, property managers get more help from the platforms.

For instance, some trust badges conferred by the platform are on an account level, not on a property level . This is the case of Vrbo’s Premier Host status, for instance. It means th at any new property listed by a property manager that is already a Premier Host will also get this badge, even with zero reviews of its own .

Granted, if a property manager adds too many listings that later get low guest ratings, then it may lose its Premier Host status for all of its properties. Note that the rules are similar to Airbnb’s SuperHost status : A new property would benefit from its host already being a SuperHost. Yet, every quarter, Airbnb reassesses SuperHost statuses based on recent review scores and business performance of all the properties of a host.

For a new listing, the trust extended to the account level helps property managers and multi-property owners get an edge on hosts with only one property .

Why ratings & reviews are worth the effort

T he more highly-rated reviews a listing has, the more it will be booked . Higher numbers create trust in the mind of OTA bookers; a rating of 4.9/5 based on 80 reviews will naturally feel a safer choice than a listing with 0 reviews.

Occupancy is often the limiting factor on your revenue so with reviews being so pivotal in guest decision-making, they can have huge impacts on your business . Moreover, these numbers underpin the OTA search ranking, which dictates the visibility of your property . So, new listings need a rating as soon as possible.

Correlation between higher rating & higher occupancy

If you need any more convincing, take a look at Transparent’s data below.

Properties with above-average review scores enjoy higher occupancy . Ratings are a proxy for the perceived quality of the property and stay.

vacation rentals cold start

Correlation between higher review count & higher occupancy

Similarly, the number of reviews is a proxy for the consistency of the guest experience. It can be very hard to maintain a perfect score over a large number of reviews. 

The graph below shows that properties with a high number of reviews achieve higher occupancy . Note this could be a chicken/egg scenario, but regardless, reviews and occupancy come hand in hand.

vacation rentals number of reviews stats

Your goal is clear: Get a review score badge fast (and a good one)

Properties must first meet the minimum criteria for the OTAs to display a review badge to their users. Thus, we need to look first at the rules around rating ‘badges’ and their visibility.  In terms of product marketing , this s a gamified approach.

What is a rating badge and why is it crucial for a new listing?

Typically, an OTA will only display a review score badge once a property gains 3 reviews . So, if a property has 0, 1, or 2 reviews, it still has no review rating to show to create visibility and trust.

Looking at search results from Booking.com and Airbnb below, you can see ‘badges’ displayed next to the property name in search results:

review score on Booking.com extranet

Positive reviews help travelers know that you take pride in your property and that their vacation is in good hands. Four- and five-star reviews show you’re committed to your guests and can influence your rank. Source: VRBO.com website

In search results, this is eye-catching for a potential guest looking at dozens of properties. Note that a lot of consumers also apply filters to refine their search results by rating – if you do not have a star rating, those guests won’t even see your property.

So initially, it is not just the value of the reviews that matter, but the number of reviews. This is where it pays to understand how OTAs work.

Here’s how Airbnb states the rules:

A host needs to receive star ratings from at least 3 guests before the rating will display on their listing. At the top of a listing page, the number of stars displayed is an aggregate of the primary scores guests have given for that listing.

On Booking, until 2020, it took 5 reviews to get a public review score. It is now 3 reviews. Imagine an average cancellation rate of 30% on Booking.com, and only 60% of guests leave a review. To get 3 reviews and earn your badge, you’d need 5 stays, and at least 8 bookings!

Ultimately, once you account for cancellation and those guests who don’t review, you need to generate a fair few bookings to get those 3 reviews and trigger the review score badge for your listing.

It seems like a catch-22; if you need this review score badge to get bookings, how then do you get enough bookings to get this very badge? Especially as, as a new listing, you have to compete with hundreds of other properties that already have their badge.

How to get review / rating score badge fast

As we’ve seen above, you have an edge if you are already a Superhost on Airbnb or a Premier Host on Vrbo: These statuses are conferred to you on the account level. Any property you add will be benefit from it and see either a “Superhost” or a “Premier Host” displayed on their listing from Day 1.

We’ve also seen that some programs, such as Vrbo’s Fast Start, want to help get started fast on another platform. Vrbo’s program goes as far as importing your Airbnb rating score and displaying it on your new Vrbo listing, until you get a Vrbo review score of your own.

Lower your initial prices

Invest in your first reviews by lowering your initial prices.

OTAs encourage discounted prices on new listings; in fact, Airbnb systematically prompts you to do so when you list a property:

airbnb new listing promotion

Airbnb is paving the way for you to speedily attract those important first 3 bookings and reviews.

Similarly, in the Booking.com Extranet, you get the following message:

“Do you want to lower your price by 20% for your first guests?” Get your first bookings quicker and reach the three reviews needed to display a guest review score. You can raise your price at any time. “ Booking.com Extranet

The idea is that, once you get the review score badge, you can raise your price to your ideal level. The visibility and trust conferred to the listing by the badge should justify your price increase.

Relax your booking restrictions (minimum stay and cancellation policy)

Settings can provide blocks to guests interested in booking your property. Choosing to (judiciously) relax restrictions such as minimum stay and cancellation policy is a good tactic for occupancy in general. However, it’s particularly beneficial for new listings to position themselves for as many types of booking as possible.

This is not about lowering your restrictions for the next 365 days. Be flexible, but only for a short period of time. For instance, on Airbnb, open your calendar for only the next 40 days after you launch. Lower your price, have a flexible cancellation policy, and lower your minimum stay. Once you get your 3 reviews, raise your rates and restrictions where you thing they should be and open your calendar for the rest of the year.

Offer the best guest experience ever

As per the rules, the property will get its badge at 3 reviews, irrespective of the rating. Yet, as we’ve seen, the higher the score, the higher the occupancy, so you want that high rating .

Going the extra mile to welcome guests and make their stay memorable will pay dividends – why not leave a welcome gift? Airbnb’s 11-star framework is a great guide to think about how to delight guests.

I remember sitting in a panel about revenue management along with someone from Sonder . She explained that getting good reviews fast was so important for their new listings that they would dedicate their best customer service reps to the guests staying at these places. Sonder really understood the importance of quick, great first reviews as an important investment to launch a p roperty.

Summary: The Cold Start, a real issue worth addressing before you start listing

Recent and old hosts, vacation rental listing sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo, indidial owners and large platforms like RedAwning know that the Cold start exist. This is why they have put complex programs in place, to make sure new listings are set for success on their platform.

Start with a clear goal in mind: You need to get your review score badge first and with a high score. It means getting 3 reviews (which can mean more than 3 bookings, as not 100% of guests will leave a review) fast by lowering your prices, adopting a flexible cancellation policy and a very low minimum stay for the first 40 days after your launch, and making sure that you catch any issue any time that could lead to a less than stellar review. Stuff will happen at a new property, so you need to be extra cautious, as a bad review is hard to make up when just starting out.

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AirBnB hosts forum

Accepting bookings from guests with no reviews.

We are Superhosts and have had approximately 25 previous bookings in the last year in our upmarket apartment in South Africa. Most guests have been fantastic and a pleasure to host.

However on the few occasions that we have accepted bookings from guests without any previous host reviews, we have greatly regretted doing so. The worst experience to date was a couple who used the shower as a toilet.

As a result, we decided to accept bookings only from guests with at least one prior review. I know this is no guarantee but at least it gives some level of comfort.

This obviously means declining guests from time to time, Recently Airbnb seem to have become uncomfortable and are threatening to demote our position on the website.

Could anyone suggest how best to handle this so that we can safeguard ourselves and our property without at the same time jeopardising our standing with Airbnb.

Thanking you in advance. Peter

Instead of declining the requests, tell them to withdraw the request because the property is not available or any other excuse. That way you’ll still have a high acceptance rate.

On the basis that we accept guests from BDC, who have no reviews, we accept Airbnb guests without reviews.

The way we look at it, when you join up with Airbnb you have to start someplace. If we all rejected guests who have just joined, or have no reviews, then how is someone meant to build up reviews?

Overall, not found a great difference between folks starting out with Airbnb and those with lots of reviews.

Me neither. The majority of my guests have had no reviews and touch wood, I’ve never had an issue. Maybe the fact I live across the street is a deterrent of bad behaviour.

This ABB article includes only accepting IBs from guests with positive reviews:


You create a Visitor’s Manual with things to do in your area and include house rules for guidance on your expectations of caring for your home.

Have you set your listing so that only those with reviews can book automatically?


Welcome to the forum @PeterBern !

Last year when I was a new host, I decided that I would accept guests with no reviews, but required that they be verified. I figured if they were choosing me as a new host, without reviews, or as the season progressed, minimal reviews, they should also have a chance to book as a new guest.

As long as you provide clear expectations in your listing and in your communications with your guest, you have the opportunity to “teach” them what is expected of a good guest.

I have accepted many guests with no reviews. They all were great! I was able to give them 5-star reviews because they earned them. I consider this positive reinforcement for their next Airbnb booking. They will want to be good guests.

We were all “new” once, and someone gave us a chance.

If I read this correctly you are not on instant book. You review every request and have turned down several and are now being warned by Airbnb. Several people have advised you as if you are using instant book but the setting of only accepting bookings with prior reviews is only available if you turn on instant book.

You could enable that and see how it goes but it seems to me that you have a feeling that you need to try to control who books your listing based on this statement:

How many guests with no reviews have been acceptable and how many with no reviews have been regrettable?

Airbnb is moving towards the hotel/booking dot com model of pushing hosts to accept everyone. This is done under the guise of preventing discrimination but I suspect its more about making money. As someone who uses Airbnb as a guest I can tell you that the process of finding a place is cumbersome. I’m expected to search using a limited number of filters and then if the home isn’t an instant book home I may have to wait up to 24 hours for an answer. And if I am then rejected it makes me want to give up and go to a hotel aggregator site where there are no long descriptions and rules to read and I have a guaranteed reservation in minutes.

So you could turn on instant book with the requirement of prior reviews enabled. Then you can vet the guests who have booked by having an conversation with them about their stay and expectations. You can cancel up to three bookings a year without penalty if you are uncomfortable. It’s counter intuitive but using instant book actually gives you a bit more control than request to book. Using IB will improve your acceptance rate and response time and boost you in search results.

If you don’t have CCTV cameras on your property you should get them. Make sure you disclose them on your listing as required.

I’m in the same position. The struggles you’re having are no different here. I can’t reject all of the first timers either. What I’ve been doing is I setup instant book except they have to have one positive review. If its a new guest, they send in the booking request. If the booking request seems normal and there’s no obvious red flags, I have a ‘pep talk’ with them. If the guest isn’t being transparent about who they are, what they’re doing and that they intend to follow the rules and respect my property, they get denied.

The ‘pep talk’ is a saved message about expectations. I explain to them that many guests think Airbnb is a cheap hotel but this is really more like a friend’s house. Many things are shared and thats how I keep costs down. Then I explain that this is more of a social environment rather than commercial and as long as everyone is respectful and considerate, its fun and works great. Finally I say that this house wouldn’t work for guests who need more privacy or commercial grade facilities. Basically I hit ALL the pain points and try to make the expectation crystal clear of what my place is and what it isn’t. This is intentionally geared towards turning off bad guests and very rarely, one will cancel their booking request after the pep talk.

I still get first timers who break the rules or are just total pigs and make a huge mess. The review follows and most likely they won’t be using Airbnb again or at least a private room in shared house Airbnb.

Peter and Gem: I did this recently and the guest said she didn’t know how to do that. I ended up declining, got paused for 5 days and threatened with demotion. The whole picture is that that was my 3rd decline. The other two were overbookers. My place is 450 sq ft with a twin bed and both parties were couples who put a reservation in.

Thank you all very much for your thoughtful and valuable replies and suggestions. As I understand it, we are on Instant Book but with the ability to accept or reject potential guests without any reviews. Perhaps I am being over-cautious and will have to learn to accept the risk of getting some less than ideal guests. Perhaps we have just been lucky but I would say that 100% of our guests who already had reviews were great. Of those without reviews, it was more like 50%.

It’s interesting that you choose to see the glass as half empty, not half full. If 90% of the guests with no prior reviews were a problem it would be more compelling evidence that the problem was no prior reviews.

What I do is go into the calendar and block the days then send message to guests telling them someone has already booked. This way I don’t have to decline.

I’ve done that before. I’d love to know what Airbnb would do if they got wind of it.

Remember that when you get a “Request to book” because they can’t instant book without reviews, you don’t have to accept or reject them! You can simply send a message or sequence of messages asking more questions about whatever makes you uncomfortable and then just let the booking request expire when it times out at 24 hours. Air will hound you to accept or reject, but you don’t have to do either. As an alternative, you can send them a special offer that’s expensive enough that they probably won’t accept it (and if they do, you make a lot more money which should cover damages).

No reviews does not bother me. A bad review might, or I may take it as an opportunity to set expectations. Dear guest, I am considering cancelling your reservation because you left a mess at X’s house, can you insure this will not happen at my cabin?

I think that you live across the street is the ticket. My newbie airbnb guests just think everything should operate like a hotel - it doesn’t.

There seem to be more and more of these no review, new member requests. I accept many but today I almost declined one because not only were there no reviews - the guest’s profile indicated he was from my town. I chuckled when I got a more complete message saying - hey, this ( a local name I knew well, I am trying to book for a visiting lecturer for my class. The person booking is very reputable and a friend of my husband’s so even though AIrbnb wants the booking member to be one of the guests, I said yes. That said, these bookings are usually a gamble.

booking airbnb without reviews

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