In the Vacation Rental world reviews are incredibly important. Reviews can be the reason why someone booked your home over another home they were considering and conversely can be the reason why a potential guest did not book your home. Hosts with stellar reviews often get rewarded with top listing placement in the search rankings and get better conversion. Hence why when you receive a negative review it is so impactful.

You work hard as Host, always going the extra mile to ensure your guests have a 5 star experience. Working hard behind the scenes to add special touches to set yourself apart from the crowd. How can one dissatisfied guest diminish all your hard work? With a bad review.

You are not alone! At some point every Host will face the issue of a guest leaving a bad review. In some cases the details of the review might not even be accurate or the whole truth. This, without a doubt, is incredibly frustrating, even infuriating. How we react and respond to negative reviews is critical. It is completely natural when reading a negative review to become upset and emotional. The most important thing is to not allow these feelings to get the best of you. The knee-jerk reaction to immediately respond to the review, rebutting all the inaccurate statements made is not a good idea.

Getting Started

Step one, sleep on it. Take some time to cool off and get some emotional distance from initial shock of reading the review. The next day you will be able to approach the review in a more objective way now that the sting has worn off a bit.

Step two, draft your review response. Bear in mind when responding to a bad review that you aren’t speaking to the person who left the bad review directly, you are responding to all your future guests who will read your response. Coming off as defensive or combative is the absolute worst thing you can do when portraying your image to a potential guest. Most people are understanding that any business will harbor a bad review at some point. Say you are on a road trip and you are looking for a place to stop for lunch, you find a restaurant with many glowing reviews and one bad review, would that stop you from trying it? Or might you surmise that was likely a one off experience? Most likely the latter.

So now we know what not to do. What are the best practices on what to do?

Best Practices

As much as it might pain you, thank the guest for taking the time to write the review.

Acknowledge and empathize with the guests’ experience. Our perceptions are our own realities, so while you might disagree with what was said, it is important to remember that this is the reality of that particular guest.

Respond to the guest by name and use warm, positive word selection and proper grammar. Having an angry tone in your response is likely to be a turn off to a potential guest, more than the bad review itself ever was.

Keep it short and sweet. No need to go line item by line item attempting to invalidate the claims made. Not every statement made needs to be validated with a reply.

Most importantly, apologize and be sincere. Your sincerity will speak volumes about who you are as a Host and make people want to stay in your home despite the one off experience of one guest. Recognize what could have been done better and what you plan to do in the future to make sure this one off experience is just that, a one off.

Lastly, shake it off! Whether you are new to Hosting or are a seasoned veteran, find a learning moment within the experience and move on. Even if your learning moment was learning what not to do when responding to a bad review.