The 10 Best Ways To Respond to a Negative Review

How to recover and ensure it doesn't happen again


Sierra Thomsen


March 25, 2020

There’s nothing more rewarding than receiving glowing reviews from your guests after they have enjoyed their stay at your hotel. Positive reviews not only make you feel good as an owner or manager but they also help generate more business for your establishment. Negative reviews (which happen to even the best run hotels from time to time) have the opposite effect. They leave you frustrated and stressed over the possibility of their impact on future business. It’s always a smart idea to follow up on your hotel’s TripAdvisor reviews, both the good and the bad.

According to a study performed by PhoCusWright® on behalf of TripAdvisor, “84% of [TripAdvisor] users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review ‘improves my impression of the hotel.’” In other words, responsive hotels will attract more business.

But just how do you go about responding to the reviews that are difficult to swallow? Take a look at the following hotels that are shining examples of responding to negative reviews with grace and decorum. You'll also notice that each of the hotels listed in this post is in the top of their market. Coincidence? We think not...

1. Respond as Quickly as You Can

First thing is first: respond ASAP. Of course, you’ll want to take the time to write a meaningful message to the disgruntled guest, but make it your priority to respond as quickly as you can otherwise your guest will feel overlooked. This all-star hotel responded just one day after receiving the bad review.

2. Apologize to Your Guest

This is the most important piece when responding to a negative review. Even if you already apologized while they were at your hotel, even if they are being unreasonable, always apologize in your TripAdvisor responses if your guests have been dissatisfied with their stay. An apology clears the air and will make your guests feel better. Follow the lead of this exemplary hotel that apologized to its guest right off the bat.

3. Keep it Short and Sweet

It’s usually better to avoid lengthy explanations if your guest brings up their grievances as it only tends to frustrate them. Sometimes a simple apology and a thank you for the feedback are all that it takes, much like how this hotel responded to its discontented guest.

4. Offer the Guest Some Form of Reparation (and Honor it)

If it was a fault on your end and you have the ability to do so, why not offer your guest a form of compensation, such a reduced rate or free night the next time they are in town? This gracious hotel upheld its promise to either adjust the rate or give hotel points to the frustrated guest.

5. Thank Your Guest for Reviewing

Depending on how you look at it, any review, good or bad, can always be helpful. A poor review, while definitely not enjoyable to read, is a great motivator to stay on top of things at your hotel and a reminder to always look for ways to improve your establishment. For this reason, you should thank your guest for their review. If possible, thank them by name. This stellar hotel thanked its guest for the feedback and made it known that the guest’s insight would help with improvement.

6. Validate Your Guest's Feelings and Frustration

As a guest, there is nothing worse than a business ignoring your frustrations or making you feel like you are overreacting. If your guest is upset, acknowledge it and let them know that they are right to feel that way. It may be a small gesture, but it will make your guest feel that you do care. Take a look at this world-class hotel's response that was sensitive and understanding of its guest’s complaints.

7. Highlight Any Changes You Have Made or Intend to Make

As mentioned earlier, negative reviews are great for encouraging overall improvement at your establishment. So if there was some problem at your hotel such poor wi-fi connection or a broken air conditioner, let your guest know that you have fixed it or are in the process of fixing it. When a problem arose at this hotel, the manager let the guest know that the staff had been spoken in order to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.

8. Highlight the Positive Reviews Your Guest Left

Reviews aren’t always ugly! Sometimes your guest has mixed feeling about their stay; they were pleased with one aspect but displeased with another. If in a negative review, a guest mentioned something that they did like, call attention to that. Thank them and tell them you take pride in that specific area. The guest at this hotel left a negative review of their stay, but did mention that they very much enjoyed the hotel’s food.

9. Invite Your Guest to Return For a Better Experience

And finally, always invite your guest back so that the next time they visit, they will have a much more enjoyable experience. Tell them you will personally see that their needs are met and they will be exceptionally tended too. This champ of a hotel asks its guests to come back for another, better stay and it also gets bonus points for offering a personal apology with no excuses.

10. If Possible, Follow Up Personally

There are times, unfortunately, that you will encounter a guest that is enraged over their experience. In the case, a mere apologetic response to their review just won’t do. Instead, try to follow up the guest personally. If you have your guest’s email or phone number, be sure to contact them and express your sincerest apologies. This hotel sent its angry guest a private message to get more details about the guest’s unpleasant experience.

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