The 4 hospitality keys that unlock 5-star reviews

Build your reputation, one guest at a time.
By Airbnb on Apr 27, 2018
5 min read
Updated Aug 27, 2021


  • Address potential questions and concerns before the Experience

  • Memorize guests’ names and welcome them like a friend

  • Check in regularly with guests 

  • Delight your guests with unexpected elements

  • Think through possible solutions for when things don't go as planned

Providing unforgettable hospitality can help you find great success as a Host. When your guests feel taken care of and like they truly belong, they’re more likely to spread the word about your Experience and leave you glowing 5-star reviews. 

Top Hosts build their success one Experience and one guest at a time. Hosts can create unforgettable Experiences by thoughtfully considering how their guests truly feel during each stage. These Hosts try to help guests feel:

  • Safe
  • Recognized
  • Welcomed
  • Special

Let’s dive into these keys to hospitality and find out how to make guests immediately feel at ease and ready for a 5-star Experience.

Help guests feel safe

Great Hosts start with safety as a foundation: Safety is incredibly important, especially when trying something new or in an unknown environment. Consider sending a message to the group a day before the Experience answering their potential questions or concerns. This can help build that foundation of trust between guest and Host. Some questions you might ask and answer: 

  • How will guests know they are in the right spot? 
  • What happens if a guest can’t find you? 
  • What should guests bring or do to prepare?

Plan, plan, and plan some more: Before hosting your Experience, think through scenarios of things that could go wrong or happen differently from your original plan. Having solutions and action plans already figured out for these scenarios can be helpful.

Take care of your guests’ basic needs: Here are small things you can provide to guests right off the bat, which may help set the tone and help guests feel cared for:

  • Let guests know where the restrooms are
  • Invite them to take breaks if they get tired
  • Welcome them to drinks and snacks if they get hungry or thirsty

Discover more resources to help you Host Experiences safely.

Help guests feel recognized

Consider memorizing guests’ names beforehand: This is likely more manageable with a small group, but any effort you can put into memorizing your upcoming guests’ names beforehand might go a long way in showing you care and making your guests feel recognized.

If you’re short on time and can’t memorize every name before an Experience, you can consider making a cheat sheet with each guests’ profile picture, name, and any other facts you can pull from their Airbnb profile, for example, where they’re from.

Remember who they are: Memorizing names is one thing, but remembering who your guests are and recalling a few facts about them when you meet can do a lot to make them feel special.

Try introducing guests to each other by name and highlight any similarities or shared interests between them. This is a casual way to drop some of the things you remember about each guest into the conversation and may also help form friendships.

Help guests feel welcome

Consider greeting and treating your guests like friends: When you’re getting ready to meet your new guests, imagine they’re an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. When you welcome them, give a big smile and take their queue on any other greeting they’d like to exchange (handshake, high-five, etc).

Hospitality is a dialogue, not a monologue! Instead of talking at your guests, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with them, like you’re talking to a friend.

Help guests feel like a part of the group: You might take advantage of the intimate group size to foster connections between guests. Starting the Experience with an icebreaker is a good way to get everyone feeling comfortable with each other. For instance, an easy icebreaker activity is to have everyone stand in a circle and introduce themselves and answer a question one by one (you can also participate). Here are a few options, but feel free to come up with something related to your Experience:

  • What do you hope to get out of this Experience?
  • What’s one surprising fact about your hometown?
  • What are you most grateful for today?

Help guests feel special

Consider giving guests your undivided attention: Body language can be an effective way to make someone feel like you care. Make regular eye contact with each of your guests and, as much as possible, check in with each guest equally, facing your body towards them when you do.

Sometimes, quiet guests might require more support in order to feel comfortable, but try not to push shy guests too hard as it may make them uneasy.

Try showing guests a new side of themselves: A truly magical Experience could mean making guests feel like they’re in a different world for the day and they can be whoever they want to be. Maybe they’re an accountant every other day, but today during your Experience, they are an explorer, a sushi maker, or a nature photographer.

Consider sharing a personal story about what it was like the first time you tried the activity that your guests are now doing during your Experience. By reminding them that you were once new at the activity, you’ll likely put their mind at ease and open them up to exploring new possibilities.

Surprise and delight your guests: Providing an unexpected extra moment or gift can help your guests feel special. Some hosts offer a unique souvenir, a printed guide of your favorite nearby spots, take a Polaroid photo with their guests, or might add an extra stop on their tour.

Some of this may seem like common sense, but you might find it difficult to focus on hospitality while you are busy with the logistics of putting your experience together. That is totally normal and okay, do your best!

The guest journey

The exercise below can help you figure out how you’ll follow through on these hospitality principals. Think about how you might provide an exceptional level of hospitality along this journey:

Before the Experience begins

  • What moments are you interacting with your guests beforehand? How can you infuse the four keys into these interactions?

Arrival and introductions

  • How might you make your guests feel safe with you and each other from your first moments together?

During the activity

  • If the whole group is doing the same activity, how might you recognize each guest’s unique perspective?

The end of the Experience

  • When ending the Experience, what one feeling should your guests walk away with? What can you do to encourage this?

After the Experience

  • How are you following up with your guests? Is there a fun way you can remind them of your favorite special moments together?

Remember that these are just a few tips from Hosts who have found success with their Experience. These tips aren’t the only way to be a hospitable Host. As long as your guests are safe, comfortable, and having fun, you’re doing a great job.


  • Address potential questions and concerns before the Experience

  • Memorize guests’ names and welcome them like a friend

  • Check in regularly with guests 

  • Delight your guests with unexpected elements

  • Think through possible solutions for when things don't go as planned

Apr 27, 2018
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