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The ultimate guide to handling a bad review - what are your strategies?

I’ve noticed a lot of people have questions regarding reviews in here. I just wrote and published this article on my blog, the Airbnb Tips blog, any comments or suggestions for improvements would be appreciated.

You can read the full article here:
The ultimate guide to handling a bad review

The ultimate guide to handling a bad review

You’ve worked so hard, cleaned, communicated promptly, answered questions and overall done your best to make your guests feel welcome and happy. Still, the guest rewards you with a bad review. There is nothing more frustrating than a guest not appreciating your efforts and only focusing on the minor flaws. But negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. Here are some tips to handle bad reviews:

Bad reviews are a part of the vacation rental business

Accept that bad reviews are a part of running a rental business. It’s just impossible to satisfy every taste, need and expectation and some people are just mean and difficult. If you’re renting frequently a bad review will appear sooner or later. It’s simply a part of running a rental business and you’ll see that even top 5 star hotels receives bad feedback now and then. Once you accept this it will be much easier to handle negative feedback.

Always respond to your reviews

Most vacation rental sites give you the chance to respond to reviews. Don’t waste this golden opportunity to tell your side of the story. If you only respond to the bad reviews, these reviews will stand out, for this reason you should always respond to your reviews, both positive and negative. This will show other potential guests you care about your guest’s opinions.

Stay calm

Receiving your first negative review can come as a bit of a shock, especially when you’ve tried so hard with your guests. 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. Wait until you’ve calmed down to reply, so that you come across as cool and collected.

Stay positive

Stay positive. Always thank the guest for renting and welcome them back. Tell them you’re appreciating the feedback. This way you’ll come across as a generous person despite the fact you’re received a bad review. If the guest mentions any positive aspects, focus on these first. Then dive into the negatives, explaining your side of the story. Keep it short and consistent.

Sort out misunderstandings

If the guest has misunderstood something or didn’t read the manuals properly, make sure to explain how things work, this will be useful also for future guests.

Refresh the guests memory

When you reply to a bad 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; the compensation (if any) that was offered; and the solutions that were presented.

Communication is the key

It’s every vacation rental owner’s worst nightmare when guests wait until they write their review to mention their bad experience. If this happens, explain in a friendly manner that if these issues had been reported during the guest’s stay, there were measures you could’ve taken to help make their vacation a more positive experience. To avoid this happening altogether, ensure that you make it clear from the beginning of the stay that if any problems should occur, your guest must contact you – no matter how small the issue. Personally I always contact the guest one or two times during his / her stay to make sure if everything is okay, this way I can often resolve issues before it’s too late.

Don’t rush it

Some vacation rental sites, such as Airbnb, has a mutual review period. If you’re expecting a bad review (if the guest has already complained or if you feel that something went wrong during their stay), wait as long as possible to review the guest. If the two-week mutual review period expires, problem solved. If you receive a review, wait as long as possible to review the guest back, this way it will take some time before the possible bad review appears on your listing.

Read the full article here: The ultimate guide to handle a negative review.

What are your strategies to handle bad reviews?

Two comments on two of your points, BTW well written, I read it somewhere else.

Many here are not fans of leaving a response, I am definitely a fan of it. I usually leave a small pleasant and personal comment, but the practice really gives me the platform to do make a response if/when I get a bad review. Just doing so to only bad reviews may appear awkward.

Secondly, in the event of a bad review ~sleep on it~, a full 24 hours, of course take the longest time, then respond. Bad reviews are usually taken personal, and step on the very believe system many people wear on their sleeve (another subject all together). A combustible combination. This is why I think responses do get so defensive and the reasons why people plunged into too many details, rather than an overall summation. Stay light, friendly and make light of it.

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Thanks for your feedback. I’ve based my article on several sources, but of course mostly on my own experience as a host.

I really believe a host should reply to every review, good or bad, as this shows the host cares about the feedback given by guests. And if you reply to every review, the bad ones won’t stand out. Keep it short and consistent.

Very good read Jan. I think I saw it in the New Host Forum. Great advise.

De gustibus non est disputandum – “In matters of taste, there can be no disputes” (literally “about tastes, it should not be disputed/discussed”)

My degree is in design from a private college in NYC. What I learned from all of the critiques I endured is that (1) You learn more from your failures than from your successes; (2) Even though you put everything you could into your project, your project is NOT you, so don’t take it personally; (3) and, the most important one – this too, shall pass. You move on to the next assignment (or guest), taking with you what you learned from the last one.

Sometimes, criticism is valid. Sometimes not. Live, learn, and let go.

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