Booking has made a major change to the way guests will review properties and the way the scores will be calculated.
Peviously guests would rate a property on multiple categories by choosing smiley faces. The final score would be calculated as an average of the categories, with each smiley face being worth 25%.
The new method still requires guests to rate each category, but now they will also choose an overall score on a scale from 1 to 10. This overall score will be the review score that the hostel receives.
This means that the lowest score a guest can leave is now 10% instead of 25%. It also means that if a happy guest chooses to take one point off of the total score, the review would be 90% instead of 75%.
It also means that a guest could leave a very low score for one or more categories but leave a high score overall. Or they could leave top marks for each category but give a low score overall.
The new system will not be applied retroactively, so old scores will remain unchanged.
This page on Booking's partner site does a good job of answering all the basic questions about this change It is copied below for your convenience.
Many of you told us you had concerns about the fairness and accuracy of guest review scores, and lots of you also had questions about how the final score is calculated.
We heard you and – thanks to your feedback – we’ve been able to make the following improvements:
Now guests select an "Overall" score themselves
Previously, your score for each review was calculated as an average of 6 categories: Location, Cleanliness, Comfort, Value, Facilities, and Staff. From now on, guests will rate their overall stays themselves.
Guests can still rate these categories, but the ratings won't be used to calculate your overall review score. Instead, guests will indicate the final score themselves. This independently selected score aligns us with industry best practices.
Smiley faces were replaced by a new sliding scale of 1–10 for the overall review score
Our research showed that you thought the old smiley-face system wasn't as precise or objective as it should be, and didn't leave much space for guests to fully and accurately express their opinions. To clarify reviews for everybody, we introduced a sliding scale of 1–10.
The 1–10 sliding scale means 2.5 isn't the lowest score you can get anymore
Previously, when guests elected the saddest face (lowest score), it was the equivalent of a 2.5. You said this didn't make sense, so now the lowest possible overall score is a 1.
Note: Now that the overall score isn't an average and guests select from 1 to 10, you might see a slight difference in the overall scores you're getting for each review.
Since your score isn't tied to the rating of set categories, both you and potential bookers will get a more accurate picture of guests' experiences at your property. This will also help you identify what's going well, as well as where you can exceed guest expectations in the future.
The transition to the new updated system will happen gradually, so you might get some reviews from the previous system for a while.
What will happen to my current score?
This change isn't retroactive, so all review scores received until now won't be affected. Only new review scores will be collected in accordance with the updated system. Since this transition to the new updated system will happen gradually, you might get some reviews from the previous system. As usual, reviews will automatically expire after 24 months.
How will this change impact my review score?
The updated scoring system is more detailed, based on a scale of 1–10 instead of 4 smiley faces. It will more clearly represent guests' experiences of your property. All properties will be equally impacted.
What if there's a big difference between my overall score and the sub-scores for the same reservation?
Guests are free to rate their experiences however they want, but we also understand consistency in their feedback is important to you. We'll look into guest behavior and submission patterns, then work to minimize any inconsistencies that we detect.
Will guests be able to submit reviews without giving overall review scores?
No, guests won't be able to write reviews, rate categories, or submit the review form without giving an overall review score.
What if guests start submitting the overall score but stop rating categories or writing reviews?
Receiving detailed feedback from guests helps you understand what's working and where there's room for improvement. We know how important for you to keep getting written feedback and ratings for the 6 categories. We don't expect a substantial impact on accompanying review comments, but we'll look into guest behavior and submission patterns, then work to maximize the collection of this valuable info.