How Vacation Rental Owners Should Handle a Negative Review
Reading a negative review about your vacation rental property is shocking. Especially if you try your best to create a pleasant experience for your guests.
Reviews provide information about your rental property and sometimes reflect your hospitality. You can see how reviews can impact your number of bookings, which is why the more positive reviews you receive, the better.
This is why it is important to handle negative reviews. Did you know that “81% of travelers find user reviews important on travel booking sites?” Which means your reviews can influence your bookings.
While reading negative reviews can be an unpleasant experience, they do hold value. If you have the skills, you can handle a negative review and turn it into a positive experience.
The most important decision you will make for your brand is to think about our response. Reply in a calm and rational manner. Do not allow your emotions to overtake your reply, especially if it is a public forum.
Maintain Your Reputation
After reading a negative review, your first reaction is defense. You may write phrases like, “There’s nothing wrong with-” or “Actually, you’re wrong because-.” If you find yourself typing these phrases, close your computer and go for a walk.
Why? Because you should not use language that implies or states that the guest is wrong.
Combating negativity with more negativity is not going to help. Take the time to respond in a way that reflects who you are as a business:
Even if their review is unjust, thank them for sharing their opinion. If someone took the time to write a negative review, they had strong emotions motivating them. Use their feelings in your favor.
Acknowledge Their Opinion
Before you jump into your response, address that you have heard their comments. Their negative reviews may hold valuable truths for previous and future guests.
Add Your Opinion
Share your decisions as an owner. If you receive a negative review of your policies or design choices, explain why this is. It is beneficial to point to positive reviews that offer praise for your property and policies. Positive reviews justify your decisions and offer new perspectives for the reviewer.
Share Your Changes
Did their review motivate you to replace your kitchenware? Tell them! Your reviewers will feel appreciated and valued. They may even follow their negative review with a positive one. This also shows your commitment to hospitality.
Choose to Respond Privately
You should respond to reviews within 24-48 hours. This prevents negative reviews from deterring future guests.
If a reviewer is particularly upset, de-escalate the situation by responding privately. You can send them your email address or provide a phone number. This opens a personal form of communication. It also creates a calmer environment to address the guest’s issues.
Use the same three-part format as you would if you respond publicly. This personal interaction also shows your commitment to the guest. It may influence a positive change in the guest's attitude.
Request to Have Negative Reviews Removed
If none of these tactics have worked, you can request from channels to have negative reviews removed. You cannot have every negative review removed. Platforms can research detrimental reviews to find their validity.
Requesting review removal on vacation rental platforms:
- HomeAway.com: Requires a variety of guidelines before a reviewer can post. This ensures that their feedback is constructive for the owner and community. HomeAway cannot edit a review but can remove it.
- Airbnb: Like HomeAway.com, Airbnb’s default policy is not to edit or delete reviews. But they will remove it if it violates their policy. Some examples are if a review contains personal information, violence, or social commentary (if irrelevant).
*HomeAway and Airbnb reviews stay on their sites
- TripAdvisor: TripAdvisor’s policy requires reviews to be family friendly, unbiased, and relevant. If your review does not meet their policy guidelines, they will remove it.
- Facebook: Reviews must follow community standards.
*TripAdvisor and Facebook reviews sync through Futurestay’s Dashboard to your property’s page
Review removal on other platforms:
- Yelp does not take down negative reviews. But you can flag a review as “inappropriate,” if it is not justified or breaks Yelp’s “Terms of Service.” Yelp will remove negative reviews from former employees or business competition.
- Google practices similar policies. A negative review can be “flagged.” Google will look at the review, and remove it if it does not follow Google review policies.
Watch Your Online Presence
Did you know you can receive alerts of your name or business when mentioned online? One site suggests using platforms such as:
This allows you to stay up-to-date and address any negative reviews. This prevents damage to your brand’s reputation.
Create an Online Profile
Make sure your business has accounts on reviewing sites. That way, when people write a review, they know who receives it.
One site explains that your online presence may influence reviewers to be reasonable. If they know you will see their review, they may be fair since there may be some form of resolution.
Also, if you already have an online presence, you may already have an archive of positive reviews. So receiving a negative review will not have as much damage if renters can review the property’s history.
Ask for More Reviews
Asking your guests for more reviews can offset any negative reviews you receive.
Think about it. If you have 9 positive reviews and 1 negative review, which is going to influence your opinion as a traveler? Asking your guests for reviews can lead to more positive experiences for your business.
How Do You Handle Negative Reviews?
No business owner wants negative reviews. If you do receive a negative review, address them publicly or privately. Make sure you acknowledge the guest's points. Share your thoughts about the situation. Through discussion, turn the situation into a positive opportunity.
Do you remember a negative review you received? Which of our techniques did you use? Share your thoughts and experiences below.
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