As a hotel, guest house or Airbnb property owner or manager, you often have to deal with negative reviews posted online. While you may go out of your way to offer guests a perfect stay, complaints are inevitable. Keeping this in mind, it is also important to note that some guests may truly have poor experiences, while others post completely unreasonable reviews online. Reviews are an important part of any business’ credibility and reputation and while negative reviews are never favourable, there are certain ways to deal with it. Studies have also shown that more than 80% of negative reviewers’ impression about a property will change if the owner or manager responds to their feedback – a great opportunity to turn around bad reviews!
Let’s look at the most effective ways to respond to reviews:
How to reply to negative online reviews
- Thank the guest by name for the feedback
No matter the content of the review, you should always greet the guest by name in your reply. Handling the situation gracefully can mitigate the effects of the review. Thanking the guest for the feedback using a friendly tone also shows that you are acknowledging the guest’s complaint. People who complain online often just want to know that you hear their grievances and understand their frustration.
- Highlight any changes you have made since the guest’s last stay
If the complaint is valid, you can start the reply by explaining what changes have been made to improve your establishment. It is important to mention that you have considered the complaint and have, therefore, made some necessary improvements.
- Mention that the guest is always welcome
If you feel that you can improve the guest’s experience, you can invite the guest back. It is normal for the guest not to accept the invitation, but you want to create an open and friendly relationship. If the guest does decide to return for another stay at your property, you have a second chance to make a good impression and to change the guest’s opinion.
When to apologise to negative hotel reviewers
No hotel, guest house or Airbnb is perfect. Now and then, a guest may visit your property and may not be completely satisfied with their stay. When this happens, they will often go online to complain about their experience after they have checked out. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for you to make things right. However, an apology can go a long way. If the complaint is valid and reasonable, you can apologise to the guest in a hospitable way.
How to respond to an unreasonable complaint
Not all reviews posted online are valid. Often, guests may complain about things that are completely out of your control. However, it is still important to remember that a guest had a negative experience while staying at your property. If you feel that the review is non-valid, you can state why you believe this, but it should be done in a professional and friendly way. Always stick to facts and never insult guests online. If you believe there is more to the story, rather ask the guest for his or her contact details and take the conversation offline.
Should you offer complimentary stays?
No rule says that you should offer a complimentary stay or any extras to guests who leave negative reviews. However, if your establishment can afford it and you would like to improve on the guest’s experience a complimentary stay can be offered. When offering complimentary stays, remember to contact the guest directly. Also be careful not to offer it more than once to one guest, as this can lead to people taking advantage of your hospitality.
A few additional tips
- Always try to respond within 48 hours
- Always try to offer a solution to complaints
- Add a name to the reply so the guest can refer to a real person if they have further feedback, questions or queries
- Try to follow up if you feel it is necessary and you have not heard back from the guest
Negative reviews are often unavoidable, and it is important to note that you cannot keep everyone happy all the time. But, reviews should never be left unanswered. When you are confronted with a valid negative review, you have to deal with it in a friendly and helpful way. If the review is unreasonable, it is essential to mention to the guest that you have acknowledged the complaint first. Thereafter, you can state your valid reasons why the complaint is unreasonable. Remember: Never get into a fight with guests online, and always communicate in a friendly tone.