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When guests have been looking forward to their dream vacation and then it doesn’t go to plan as expected, they’re very likely to make a complaint. Whatever the case, a negative review has been posted on your listing and they’re neither pleasant nor easy to read as a vacation rental owner.

Unfortunately, bad reviews can happen, even when you think you’ve done your best. But what can you do to rectify the situation?

HOW TO RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS

Receiving your first negative review can come as a bit of a shock, especially when you’ve made a huge effort with your guests. You should always respond to your reviews, both positive and negative, though there are certain things to bear in mind before you start writing your reply. Read the following 9 steps you can take to handle bad reviews professionally:

1. UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE COMPLAINING

Always remember: negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. They actually provide you with an opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service – not only to the unhappy guest but also to the many other potential guests who are reading through your reviews (both on your own vacation rental website and on social media.) Potential guests will feel reassured knowing you take negative complaints seriously and will choose accommodation based on your responses. 

how to respond to negative review

In many cases, the guest just wants to feel heard, wants to know that their feelings are valid, and more importantly wants to make sure that you care. More often than not, a fair and honest response and a solution to the problem can help put your guest’s mind at ease.

Often guests will recognize that problems can arise, accidents can happen, and sometimes things can get overlooked. As long as the vacation rental business in question doesn’t blame or ignore the guest, they’ll understand and be grateful for your response.

2. CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY

How do you salvage a relationship with an unhappy guest? A sense of urgency, consistency, and honesty can make all of the difference. Having your reviews (even the rare not-so-great ones) all in one place on your vacation rental website, along with your helpful and prompt responses, allows future guests to see the character and integrity of you and your vacation rental business.

how to respond to a bad review

According to customer service statistics:

  • If you resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor, they will do business with you again 70% of the time
  • Americans will tell an average of nine people about good experiences, compared with telling 16 people about poor experiences
  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.

What do these numbers mean? Although negative reviews can sometimes mean that changes need to be made to the way you run your vacation rental, when guests draw attention to these hiccups early on, it can be hugely beneficial for you in the long run.

3. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

When you receive a negative review, especially the ones that aren’t entirely true or don’t portray you fairly, it is best to wait and respond when you’re not frustrated or upset. You have to remember that the guest was feeling in a certain way when they posted the review and writing a defensive response isn’t going to resolve the situation. Ensure that you are calm when you reply so you come across as professional and caring.

4. GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT

If you aren’t 100% familiar with the guest or situation, collect all of the information you can in order to make your response as accurate as possible. Speak with anyone that the guest mentioned in their review (maintenance team, office staff, neighbors, etc.) to get all sides of the story. If the guests have any evidence, such as photos, ask them to send them over. 

5. THANK THEM FOR THE POSITIVES

When it is time to respond to the review, always thank the guest for their feedback, and acknowledge that even though it is not the best review you’ve ever received, when guests take the time to let you know about their experiences, it gives you the chance to improve your vacation rental management for their benefit, and to the benefit of future guests.

negative hotel review response examples

If they mentioned anything that they liked, address these positives first. Then, when it’s time to dive into the negatives, confirm and validate the things that did happen, and explain your side without placing blame or fault on the guest.

6. REFRESH THE GUEST’S MEMORY

When replying to a negative review, don’t forget to remind the guest of any work you did to resolve the issue while they were at your vacation rental: any communication that happened, if compensation was offered, maintaintence or replacements – all the solutions you came up with.

7. COMMUNICATION IS EVERYTHING

It’s every vacation rental owner’s worst nightmare when guests wait until they return home to mention their bad experience. If this has happened in the past, take the opportunity to explain (in a friendly manner of course) that owners always prefer guests to report any issues during the stay and straight away, as there are many measures in place to make their vacation a positive experience.

To avoid negative reviews altogether, ensure that you make it clear on arrival that if any problems should arise, your guest is to contact you – no matter what time of day or how little the issue is. Make sure they have your phone number, an additional number, and also your email. 

8. RESPOND, DON’T RETALIATE

A negative review should be followed up with an honest and detailed response, but that should be the end of it. If the guest responds, find a more private way (phone or email) to address the guest’s concerns. The last thing you want is an online feud for everyone to see. As tempting as it can be, don’t retaliate after your first response. Remember that your potential future guests are reading your reviews, so you need to remain in control and stay professional.

9. YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Don’t think that you are the first person to receive a negative review. Think about the hospitality industry as a whole. Hotels and restaurants receive complaints on a daily basis, vacation rentals fit into this category as well. Even if a vacation rental has mostly positive reviews, there are bound to be some negative reviews too. Remember that you are not alone and it’s just the downside of this business.

Don’t ever let negative reviews get you down emotionally. Rather, stay calm and deal with them in a professional way. With these 9 tips, you’ll be ready to take on any negative comments, and even prevent them from occurring in the first place.

What do you think about this article?

(2) Comments
  1. Luke Smith Reply

    Thanks so much for the tips on how to handle negative reviews from guests at a vacation home! You made a really good point about mostly this type of review being from someone who wants to be heard. I would imagine that you would want to plan for this whenever you first planned to buy a vacation home.

  2. Manya Johnson Reply

    I think you are absolutely right about resolving any problems while the guests are there instead of waiting until they go home and write about them in a review instead. I always say to my guests that if they have any problems to come and see me. Fortunately I live next door but even so, it’s nice for guests to feel that they have some point of contact for any grievances that can be sorted out before they leave.

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