How to Prevent Guests from Leaving Negative Reviews

By Alex Gaggioli, January 29, 2016

Online reviews are important for any type of property. We’ve talked about it extensively on our blog, here, here, and here. But, we haven’t covered effective ways to stop guests from leaving bad reviews before you have a chance to mitigate the situation. There are several tactics you can employ to prevent guests from leaving bad reviews and tarnishing your brand.

Offer a Seamless Experience

First step, give guests an absolutely perfect experience tailored to each person’s individual needs. Only in a perfect world, right? It’s impossible to give every single person a 100% flawless experience. Everyone has different expectations and experiences, so don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Instead, be upfront about what you offer and never lie. Give the best customer service possible and meet your guests’ expectations. Offering great customer service doesn’t have to be rocket science.

No matter what type of property you manage, you’ll experience an unhappy guest at one point or another. While you can’t be perfect, you can be tactful in how you handle less-than-satisfied guests. So, have a process in place to prevent negative online reviews before they are posted.

Talk to Guests at Check-Out

This seems embarrassingly obvious, but make sure you check-in with guests at check-out. Make sure your front desk staff asks each and every single guests about their experience. Many guests will say everything is fine even if it’s not. Consider handing out a quick one question survey. It could be as simple as a “rate your stay on a scale from 1-10.” And then, after they hand it back to the front desk employee, they can respond appropriately.

If there was a problem, you and your staff have the opportunity to deal with it right then and there.

Incentivize Guests Responses

You can also prompt your guests to take a longer, more in-depth survey. Most people ignore these types of surveys, but you can entice them to complete the survey with an incentive. Offer them a discount or a free night on their next stay, or a rebate on their current stay. Survey results are valuable because not only do they give you insight into their stay, but they also give you another opportunity to solve any guest problems.

After they take the survey, if they only had positive things to say, ask them to relay their thoughts on TripAdvisor, Hostelworld, or wherever most people research your property.

Have an Online Complaint Form

Guests often turn to online review sites to complain because that’s the only place they think businesses will listen and answer. And that very much may be true for some businesses. But, you can communicate to your guests that there are other options.

One option is to include a form on your website that addresses problems. In the contact section of your website, include a form called “Have a Problem? Let us fix it” or “Did you experience a problem? We’re here to help.” These types of forms will help guests voice their concerns directly to you instead of going through a website like TripAdvisor.

The key is to address every single complaint that comes through these channels. If you want to prevent negative reviews, following up with guests is the best way to do that.

Email Post-Stay Emails

A post-stay email is a great way to communicate with your guest after they have left your property. This is also a great opportunity to ensure the guest had a great stay and to find a solution if it was less than amazing. In this email, you can thank them for staying with you and ask them how their stay was. If it was great, you can link them to your TripAdvisor (or other review site). If there was a problem you can have them email you or fill out the online complaint form mentioned above.

You could also include a post-stay survey with an incentive as mentioned above as well. Then at the end, you can direct them to either leave a public review or send you an email to address a problem.

While there are many ways to get feedback from your guests, the main goal is to let your guests know that communication channels are open.

We wrote a great article on the post-stay services best practices that you can read here, if you decide to go this route.

A Guest Already Wrote a Negative Review

If a guest does end up leaving a negative review, you have no option but to address it. Even if you put all these measures in place to prevent negative reviews, some guests will vent online. In that case, you just have to roll with the punches and mitigate the issue online. We also wrote a post on how to respond to negative reviews that you should check out here.


Your goal as a hotelier is to make every guest feel as happy as possible. The best solution is prevention, so make sure your customer service is up-to-par before worrying about negative reviews. Once you have a customer service plan in place, then use these tactics to prevent negative online reviews. Put yourself in a winning position.

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