Accuracy: Tips for setting and surpassing guest expectations

An accurate description is the foundation for a successful Experience.
By Airbnb on Sep 12, 2018
5 min read
Updated Aug 30, 2021


  • Setting appropriate expectations is key to delighting guests and earning 5-star reviews

  • An accurate listing page is essential to meeting guest expectations

  • Don't just deliver on expectations, but find a way to surpass them

We believe when your guests’ expectations are higher than the reality of what they get, they’re likely to be disappointed. If it’s easier for you to remember, think of it as a simple equation:

Expectations > Reality = Disappointment.

On the other hand, if the reality of your Experience is better than what they expected, they will likely be delighted. The key is setting appropriate expectations, then not only delivering on them but also finding a way to surpass them.

An accurate description is one of the foundational elements of a successful Experience. Based on the description on the Experience page, guests should know what to expect from your Experience. This includes the timing of the Experience, who’s hosting, the location, what’s provided, and what guests will do. Note that Hosts may face action (e.g. suspension or removal) if their listing page goes against Airbnb’s accuracy standards and requirements.

The timing of the Experience

We’ve seen that one of the top issues mentioned in low-star reviews by guests is that the Experience started late. As you may imagine, guests’ time can be incredibly precious while they’re on vacation.

Experiences not starting on time, or going over the scheduled end time (or ending much earlier) can disrupt guests’ plans and lead to disappointment. One way to avoid that happening is to practice your Experience with friends or family to ensure you have set the advertised length of time appropriately. If there are any delays, it’s a good idea to communicate them to your guests as proactively as possible.

Keep in mind that guests may have made plans after your Experience, so going over the scheduled time could negatively impact the rest of their day or evening. Learn more tips for mastering the schedule and timing of your Experience.

Who’s hosting

We believe what sets Airbnb Experiences apart from a traditional tour or workshop is the Host and the element of personal connection they bring to the activity. The About you section of the listing page is where Hosts can write their bio and attract guests with their expertise and passion.

If you are co-hosting your Experience with someone else, be sure that person is also described in the About you section and that it is made clear to guests in advance who will be there to greet them.

Imagine the guests’ disappointment if, upon arrival to the Experience, the Host they were excited to meet is nowhere to be found and instead, they find an unknown person. That not only erodes trust in the Airbnb platform, but also begins the Experience on an awkward note.

Where you’ll be

Changing the meeting location or the places visited during the Experience without proper notice to your guests can lead to unmet Expectations. Sometimes guests make plans based on the locations listed on your Experience page (whether it’s arrangements for things to do immediately before or after the Experience, or for transportation to and from it). If changes need to be made, it’s a good idea to communicate those changes to your guests as early and clearly as possible.

Keep in mind that if it’s a last-minute change, some guests may not receive the message since they may be traveling internationally without access to data on their phones.

Korey, Host of DC’s Most Instagrammable Street Art, describes what happened after she made a last-minute change to the meeting location: “I updated the meeting location and two guests didn’t get or understand the message/change. They finally caught up to the group. One person was very irritated. She wanted money back and I offered to finish up the tour with the rest of the group, then double back to the areas she didn’t get to see. I [learned] to not move my Experience meeting spot or rely on my customers being tech savvy with the app and messaging. Some simply never get the message.” 

What’s provided

If you say you’ll provide an item or service in the What I’ll provide section of your Experience page, be sure you’re prepared to deliver it to your guests. For example, if your page says you will provide two drinks, but you only provide one during the Experience, it is very likely guests will remember that when they leave a review.

It’s a good idea to review what you’ve listed on your page before your guests arrive just to double-check that you have the necessary supplies to offer what you’ve promised.

Remember that what you have listed as “included” is the bare minimum that your guests expect, so an easy way to go beyond expectations is to under-promise and over-deliver by including a surprise or extra element that is not otherwise listed on your page.

What guests will do

In the What we’ll do section of your Experience page, describe the flow of your Experience with a beginning, middle, and end. Clearly laying out your itinerary from start to finish will help give prospective guests an idea of what you’re offering, and it can also help set appropriate expectations for booked guests by giving an overview of what will happen when. Discover more tips and common mistakes about writing your Experience itinerary.

What guests expect from Airbnb Experiences

Keep in mind that all instances of an Experience should be exclusive to guests who book through Airbnb. Mixing in guests booked through other platforms can be confusing to Airbnb guests, considering the Airbnb guests will be expecting the number of guests posted on your Experience page. The small group sizes for Airbnb Experiences are meant to foster a sense of connection between the Host and guests.

Gabriela, Host of Get to know Little Africa and its heritage, talks about her trick for meeting and exceeding expectations: “I understand that there are different expectations regarding the Experience.  Nowadays, before starting the tour, I ask what the person expects from the Experience and the reason for having booked my tour. With these answers, I can better identify who those people are and adapt the tour according to their expectations.” 

Remember to set appropriate expectations for guests, write accurate descriptions on your listing page, communicate thoughtfully, and offer a little something extra. These keys to success will help you create a magical Experience for guests, and they will most likely walk away delighted. 


  • Setting appropriate expectations is key to delighting guests and earning 5-star reviews

  • An accurate listing page is essential to meeting guest expectations

  • Don't just deliver on expectations, but find a way to surpass them

Sep 12, 2018
Was this helpful?