When it comes to the hospitality industry, one thing is for sure: making every single guest happy is just not possible. Despite doing your best to deliver exceptional services and putting a lot of work into pleasing guests, not everyone will be 100% satisfied with your service or the amenities provided by the vacation rentals you manage. Dissatisfied guests often leave bad reviews, which have the potential to affect your company in a variety of ways.

Regardless of whether a bad online review is justified and factually accurate or not, responding to it gives you the opportunity to set the record straight in case there is incomplete or inaccurate information, clear up misunderstandings, repair your relationship with unhappy guests, and improve your business’s reputation.

Things to Consider When Responding to Negative Online Reviews

A study published by Harvard Business Review shows not only that a business should respond to negative reviews but also that doing so the “right” way is crucial. When responding to a bad online review, knowing what the “right” way actually means could help you attract more prospective guests, despite the negative review.

Now, let’s discuss a few strategies for handling bad online reviews.

  • Accept the Criticism for What It Is – The worst thing that you can do is to dismiss a negative review because you think it might have been exaggerated. Instead, you should carefully consider what the guest said. If the guest complained about dirty silverware or a bad odor during his or her stay, it’s worth inspecting the property in person and double checking with your staff to see if they remember something specific about that particular vacation rental. As an example, a bad odor may be caused by a clogged sewer line, while dirty dishes may be an indicator that the dishwasher is no longer cleaning properly.
  • Respond in a Timely Manner – Answering bad reviews should be one of your top priorities. Why? Besides the fact that an unanswered bad review can deter other travelers from booking your properties, a short turnaround shows your guests that you really care about them and the properties you manage. So, after taking some time to investigate the problem on your end, make sure that you reply to the negative review right away.
  • Eliminate the Emotion Before Responding – A bad review can be upsetting, especially when it’s unnecessarily rude or unfair. However, by staying as calm and objective as possible, you might be able to better understand the guest’s point of view and come up with the best response and solution to the problem.
  • Apologize and Empathize – When replying to a negative review about the properties you manage, remember not to open the response with an attack. Use the guest’s name and thank him or her for taking the time to write the review. Also, apologize to the guest and express your sympathy that his or her experience fell short of expectation. If the unpleasant experience was due to an unusual or unexpected situation, explaining the problem will reassure the reviewer as well as any prospective guests that the experience was actually a one-time occurrence. 
  • Take It Offline – Reaching out to an unhappy guest on a personal level is key when answering a negative review. No matter the reason(s) behind his or her review, make sure that you take the responsibility for the unpleasant experience, even if it wasn’t your fault. Acknowledging the problem, apologizing for the inconvenience, and trying to find a solution that will make the guest happy can go a long way in turning a negative experience into a positive one. Also, depending on circumstances, you could try to make the situation better by offering some compensation, such as a refund of the cleaning fee or one or more complimentary nights if he or she chooses to return.

Taking the time to respond to every single review, good or bad, can make a huge difference in your guests’ perception of you, while also acting as a great display of your business ethics to potential guests.

Use a Reliable Software Solution to Maximize Your Business’s Reputation

Currently, 81% of travelers read reviews before they book any type of accommodation. Since so many travelers turn to one another for advice on which hotels or vacation rentals they should book, you must find a way to get more positive reviews.         

One of the things you could do is opt for a PMS solution that can help you offer better guest experiences. When it comes to software solutions that can add value to your vacation rental management business, JANIIS may be the answer you’re looking for. Not only will our system allow you to automate a series of tasks and run a more efficient operation; it can also help you build a stronger relationship with your guests. Using cutting-edge technology to handle every single area of your business, including CRM, can lead to enhanced guest experiences, which will have a positive impact on your company. Before taking the next step in your vacation rental management business, we invite you to get an in-depth tour of the ins and outs of our PMS system!