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How to Respond to a Negative Review

Last week, I talked all about how to respond to that public review—that was if things were all fine and wonderful and they had all nice things to say. But what happens when someone leaves a negative review? How do you handle that? Today's blog post and video is going to break down a few tips on how you can handle these negative reviews depending on the type of negative review it is. So, let's dive in.

Let me start by saying that a negative review will probably happen at some point. Even the very best of hosts do have them and it's all a part of running a business. Even the Grand Canyon has one star reviews. So just remember to take it with a grain of salt. Try not to let it ruin your day and always, always take the high road.

If it's really one that fires you up, take a break don't respond right away. Definitely try to respond to every review you receive whether it's positive or negative, but if you need a day to respond, that's fine. Here are a few guidelines that I use—how I address the review really depends on the type of negative comments that I'm dealing with.

Focus on the Positive

Let's say the guest has left a three or four star review and they have mentioned plenty of positive things and then they've also mentioned some negative things. Now sometimes, people just like to be really, really thorough. Even if overall they had this wonderful time, they're still going to point out absolutely everything both negative and positive. And what I will do in this case—especially if they're pointing out things that I can't change—I would really just focus on the positive.

Typically future guests aren't reading every single word of these lengthy reviews, but they are jumping right down to see the owner response and really scanning to see if there was some major issue they need to be aware of. So, sometimes you can do more harm than good if you use that space to address all their negative comments especially if you can't change them. So what I will do in this case is I will use the same format that I outlined in last week's post, and I'll focus on the one positive thing that they said and I'll just say, "Hey, thanks so much. We're so glad that you enjoyed the large deck. Thanks for taking the time to leave this review." That's how I'll handle something if there is positive and negative but the negatives I can't necessarily change.

Here's last week's post, in case you missed it!

Listen to the Feedback

Now, if they're addressing a negative that I can change, that's a different ballgame. Sometimes, they're pointing out something where it's an opportunity to improve overall, so it's valuable feedback that you can use to improve. Maybe they're commenting on the decor or an amenity that they were hoping to have there. Take those comments into consideration and consider improving. If they're pointing out something that you can't change, but you are going to get more negative reviews if your guests aren't aware of this up front, then think about how you need to adjust your communication up front to make sure they're aware of it.

In our case, our cabin sits on a gravel road that's about a mile long. I can't change that. So, in my description, I bring it to their attention at the very beginning. I say, "Hey, something you might may need to be aware of, we do sit on a gravel road." And this way if they want to self-eliminate themselves because they are coming by RV or by motorcycle and that doesn't work for their situation, then I would rather have them book elsewhere and be happy than to leave a very negative review for something that I can't change.

Address what You've Fixed

Next, maybe something broke during their stay—it happens. And you've likely already taken care of that. So, if the negative review is addressing something that went wrong or broke and you've since fixed it, then do call that out because you do want your future guests to see that you promptly take care of any issues that arise. But if there is a positive part of the review, you want to bring more of attention to that piece of it then the negative piece of it. So keep it short and sweet; don't elaborate too much on the negative, but do make sure that the future guests can see that you do handle problems promptly if and when they arise.

Low Star Review

Now the last scenario to cover—and hopefully you've never come across this one—is every once in awhile, you might receive a one or two star review. And in this case, it might just be that this guest hadn't stayed in a vacation rental before and maybe they were expecting what they're used to at a hotel. It's not cut out for everyone, and in this case, I would just leave a simple response that is again speaking to that future guest and saying something along the lines of, "It saddens me that this guest stay was unpleasant. Everything possible was done for their comfort and perhaps they would be more comfortable in a hotel in the future." Something just short and really speaking to the fact that this just wasn't a good fit. Now, balanced out with a lot of positive five star reviews, in the long run this wouldn't hurt too badly. I mean...we've all purchased things on Amazon and they've had one or two stars, but if you can see that the majority is positive, guests are forgiving about that.

Hopefully this was helpful for you. If you didn't yet catch last week's post on how to respond to positive reviews be sure to check that out here!

Also, be sure to grab my marketing roadmap below. This is an incredibly helpful seven-step guide to getting started on a vacation rental!

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