Responding to Negative Hotel Reviews

By Alex Gaggioli, June 16, 2015

Today, guests have more information on your hotel available to them than ever before. Online travel agents (OTAs) make it easy for guests to read and write reviews about their experience at your hotel property. Reviews can either help or hinder your hotel’s bookings. In 2011, Tripadvisor conducted a survey to see how people felt about reviews and bookings and the results had a clear message. Guests overwhelmingly depend upon hotel reviews before making decisions and look for hotelier engagement.

Reviews are increasingly important when guests are deciding between hotels. And even more telling is how influential hotel management responses are in a guest’s decision process.

81% of respondents said user reviews were ‘very important’ when determining which hotel to stay in. And 49% responded they would not book a hotel without any reviews (TripAdvisor).

Your hotel property relies on reviews on OTAs such as TripAdvisor and Expedia, to help guests make the decision to stay at your hotel. But, what happens when you have a not-so-satisfied guest? It is never a good feeling to know that one of your guests left unhappy or unsatisfied.

Here is how you can respond to negative reviews in the best way possible.


Why should I even respond?

Yelp, the current leader in online consumer reviews, offers three reasons why you should always respond to negative reviews:

  1. Your reviewers are paying customers
  2. Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities
  3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)

(Source: Yelp)

And they are right. Your reviews reflect on your business and your team. Use a negative review as an opportunity to reconnect with an unhappy guest and turn a negative experience into a better one. If you leave just one negative review unresponded to, it can unfortunately deter potential guests and hurt your property’s reputation.

According to Social Media Today, choosing to ignore or delete a negative comment will cause more harm to you and the guest. By responding in a thoughtful, timely matter, you show that your hotel cares about your guests.

How should I respond?

Once you have identified a negative review, you need to decide how you are going to respond. Revinate, a company who creates guest feedback and reputation management solutions, shared excellent ways to respond to a negative reviews. We included some of their tips below.

  1. Be personal. Address the guest by name and thank them for taking the time to leave feedback and give you the opportunity to fix the problem.
  2. Be sensitive. Your guest is upset because something did not meet their expectations. Start by apologizing and assure the guest you will do everything you can to help them.
  3. Take the conversation offline. After you apologize, Revinate suggests you attempt to take the conversation off the public forum. This will help you more appropriately respond to the guest’s complaint.
  4. Personally reach out to the guest. If possible, it is best to reach out to the guest via email or phone to mitigate their problem whether through simple apology or some form of compensation.
  5. Try your best. Not every guest will be satisfied with your attempts to fix their problem. Sometimes nothing you do will right the wrong done to a guest. Do not overly compensate a guest or do something completely out of the ordinary to appease an unhappy guest. Some people like to be unhappy. And if someone has made a ridiculous request, potential guests will (hopefully) be able to recognize that this person is obscene. You can either respond to these reviews, or if you are feeling clever, out wit them and take your shot at going viral. (Use this tactic with extreme caution, though).


How do I learn from this experience?

Every guest review is an opportunity to learn; both positive and negative experiences have benefits. However, a negative review will usually give you more insight into how you can improve your property. When reflecting on a negative review, identify whether or not the guest’s experience was an isolated event or if it reflects a systematic problem with your hotel. For example, was the guest complaining about something like outdated accommodations? If so, it is unlikely you can fix the problem overnight, but you can take note of the guest’s complaints and factor them into future plans.

But, if the guest’s complaint was related to an isolated customer service experience, take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Identify whether the problem is clear across many reviews or if it was one event. Use the reviews to decide whether your front desk may need a refresher course on customer service or if your cleaning process is up-to-par, for example.

Action Steps

One of the best ways to check your reviews is to simply google your property and the many sites that offer review services should pop up. We listed some of the most popular sites below.

  • On the Google listing of your property, you will see a star rating with a link to the full reviews directly to the right.

Example of a Google place review featuring star ratingCheck out travel sites like:

Reviews are a great way to gauge what your guests like or don’t like about your hotel and its processes. As you respond to guest reviews, taking the time to reflect on their implications will help you in several ways. You will effectively manage your hotel’s reputation, keep guests happy, and learn how to improve your guests’ experience.

There are many types of reputation management tools out there, but these basic tips will help you get started.


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