As a rule of thumb, guests who are just mildly unhappy about a vacation rental service are unlikely to leave a review.  Reviews typically come from guests who were either extremely pleased or unhappy with their experience. Unfortunately, with the internet being the way that it is, harsh language, exaggerations, and inaccuracies are par for the course for reviews concerning vacation rental properties.


Nevertheless, dealing with bad reviews productively is essential, given their disproportionate impact when compared with positive reviews. To help you in this regard, here are several best practices for handling negative reviews, which, when dealt with thoughtfully and constructively, might even draw more future guests to your vacation properties.


  1. Use Specialized Software to Manage Reviews

If you don’t have a solid system in place for keeping track of guest reviews, the risk of responding late to feedback increases. Adopting a vacation rental property management software can help you overcome this problem by giving you a unified view of all the sites where reviews of your properties can appear. Property management software should also make it much easier to follow developments in a specific guest complaint, even as it goes through different communications channels.


  1. Try to Respond ASAP

People reading public reviews can easily interpret slow responses as an admission of guilt. You should be responding to all reviews, whether they’re positive or negative. However, it makes sense to prioritize the negative ones given the profound impact they can have on your business.


  1. Don’t Reply When You’re Angry

In this business, you’ll sometimes come across completely unfair or outright baseless reviews. In these cases, step back for a few minutes before drafting your response. You might think that putting a rude guest “in their place” may be satisfying in the heat of the moment, but it can ruin your reputation in the eyes of other potential guests.


  1. Commit to Addressing Legitimate Issues

Thankfully, most negative reviews you’ll come across are fair or, at least, have some basis. Reviews of this nature are often a good thing since they give you solid opportunities to do your guests right and build a positive reputation for your property. In any case, always tell your guest that you’re taking full responsibility for the situation and lay out your immediate plan for correcting your mistakes.


  1. Always Thank Your Guest for Their Review

Despite their unpleasantness, negative reviews can be a valuable source of insights and new perspectives, even if they may not seem like it at first. Though one review may not necessarily tell you anything useful, it may reveal something different when placed in context with other information that you have in hand. For that reason, you should always genuinely thank guests who leave bad reviews, not because it helps mollify them but because they really are giving you information that you may be able to use.


  1. Remain Gracious and Professional at All Times

A lot of negative reviews come from a place of strong emotions, which means that the reviewers may not be looking at things through a logical lens. Taking full responsibility and responding to reviews with a positive attitude can help diffuse the situation and make the reviewer far more agreeable to your proposed solution.


  1. Don’t Remove Bad Reviews Yourself

2020 Trustpilot study found that about 60% of polled consumers would boycott a business that they believed was censoring reviews. What’s more, 71% of those polled have stated concerns that businesses were tampering with reviews, with a further 42% voicing worries over their freedom of speech.


Given the widespread mistrust in businesses that resort to this practice, you need to leave bad reviews alone, no matter how harsh or unfounded they might be. Instead, use them as opportunities to showcase your commitment to transparency and the overall guest experience. 


  1. Aim to Move Your Discussion Offline ASAP

While you do want to leave negative reviews and initial responses up, there’s no reason for anyone else to get deeply involved in the specifics. See if your guest will consent to moving your conversation to an instant messenger app or over email. Doing this can help avoid a pointless public back-and-forth and increase the odds of a mutually acceptable resolution.


  1. Avoid Marketing to the Wrong Guests

A property that’s in the heart of a noisy party district is likely to receive unfavorable reviews from families and business travelers seeking a quiet retreat. On the flip side, it may garner enthusiastic praise from younger backpackers seeking an energetic and lively atmosphere. Focusing your marketing activities on the right demographics should help you avoid negative write-ups and ensure that more of your guests get the experiences they desire.


  1. The Best Way to Combat Bad Reviews Is by Getting Good Reviews

Potential guests will almost certainly overlook a couple of negative reviews if there is an overwhelming number of positive reviews countering them. As intimidating as it might be, the most effective way to get satisfied customers to leave a review is to ask them.


One popular way to do this is to leave them a business card or a thank you note with a QR code that leads to a review page. You can also use your vacation rental property management software to automatically solicit positive reviews over your guests’ provided emails. Be sure to politely ask any guest who expresses delight to leave a review so that more people will feel confident in your business.


It’s Time to Take a Different Perspective on Bad Reviews

As bothersome as they can be, negative guest reviews help raise the bar and keep vacation rental property managers from being complacent. Most importantly, they are a motivation to stay honest. Keeping those things in mind may help you develop a more productive view of bad reviews, one that may eventually be key to ensuring your lasting success in the vacation rental business.

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