Vacation Rental Owners

Handling Negative Reviews of Your Vacation Rental Property

In today’s world, reviews play an important role for any customer to decide how trustworthy any company or service is. On one hand, a good review can put your vacation rental on the map, on the other hand a bad one can put you off it. While you should feel happy about all the good publicity, you should also be prepared for bad reviews. 

In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” However, being open to criticism has its own benefits. It can bring new developments to your notice, that can keep you competitive. Or it can even make you realize what your property is lacking. 

Even if you put in a lot of effort, in making your customer’s stay a memorable one, there could still be some room for improvement. So to keep on becoming better, be strong, and take the criticism as a challenge and find out a way to overcome it. So let’s look at some ways of dealing with a negative review of your vacation rental. 

Quick action is the key to converting a negative review into a positive one. So, check out the slides below and act fast!

Ways of handling a negative review… 

1. Be objective to the review:

It is a known fact that managing a vacation rental is not an easy task. It takes a lot of effort and passion to provide a memorable experience. However, despite all your efforts, there could be a possibility that a guest might not have had a pleasant stay. The very first step to effective handling of a bad review is to be objective. It is natural to feel angry, but that won’t help you. So be open to the idea that there could be a problem at your end also.

2. Figure out what forced the review from the customer:

Read the review thoroughly and don’t ignore it. Try understanding what is being said but also think about what is left unsaid. Maybe the customer had some very specific needs that were not being met. An example could be that an aged customer could not get a room on the ground floor due to no vacancy. You may figure out how you can improve on these parameters the next time. While making a booking, you may confirm the age or preference of the customer to avoid such issues.

3. Take ownership:

Read the review thoroughly and respond to it. Do not ignore it. You need to let your customer know that his voice has reached you and you will try your best to improve upon what he has told you. Even if you think that the review is not justified, be polite. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Most people reading the reviews are also objective and may not get swayed by the unjustified review. In fact, they might appreciate your politeness. Another important aspect is to keep the replies personal. Those auto-generated responses have no meaning. They convey that you don’t have time to look at the grievances, or you don’t care enough.

4. Weigh the positives and the negatives:

If you are doing your best to take care of your vacation rental, then the positive reviews should exceed the negative ones. This indicates that you are not doing a bad job, just someone-off incidents have brought in a bad review. So don’t be dejected. Keep in mind that you are not the only one getting bad reviews. In these times, reviews can be harsh because the reviewer doesn’t have to face you. They can write things that they won’t say face to face. In such cases don’t fret too much about them. They might be highly exaggerated. 

5. Showcase improvements:

Suppose initially, your vacation rental lacked a play area for children. A guest complained about it, and you thought it was a good suggestion. You went ahead and created a play area, and filled it with toys. Don’t let your effort go unnoticed. Take some pictures, and showcase them on social media. Also, share them with the reviewer via email or through a response to the review. This has many benefits. It will give the reviewer a sense of pride that you found his suggestions helpful. It will also reduce his dissatisfaction. Lastly, it will show the readers that you take reviews seriously and are sincere to your customers.

6. Remind reviewer of on-spot measures undertaken:

At times, certain customers complain about a dissatisfying experience while they are still staying. You try to come up with the best possible solutions during their stay. However, you were able to satisfy them only, say 70%. They don’t express that they are still dissatisfied and go on to give you a bad review. In such a case, don’t enter into a fight with them. However, don’t hesitate to mention the measures taken by you. This has several benefits. First, the reviewer is reminded of your best efforts. Second, the readers can make a judgment call having heard both sides of the story. Third, it shows that you are responsive to the reviews and don’t ignore them.

7. Be courteous:

Suppose, your customer waited till he reached his home to post a bad review. He made no complaints while he was there. This gave you no opportunity to make amends. You may still go into his good books. Generally, customers provide their personal details. You may email them informing them that you regret their dissatisfaction. Further, you may send a discount coupon for their next stay. Or you may request their permission and send them a small token of appreciation such as a set of branded lifestyle products. This will reduce their anger towards your property. You may mention this in response to the review. To show your readers, that you care.

8. Positive and negative are the faces of the same coin:

Suppose, your property is close to the nightlife of the city. Therefore there are a lot of nightclubs nearby. This leads to a lot of noise. Some travelers enjoy nightlife and won’t complain, in fact appreciate the location. However, there might be some who want to stay away from city life, and enjoy some quiet. These might give you a bad review. You need to be clearer when marketing your vacation rental. You need to state that your property might not be suitable for a certain clientele. As the proverb goes, prevention is better than cure. You may end up losing some prospects but you would ensure lower bad reviews.

9. All reviews are interactions:

Good or bad, reviews are interactions with your customers and with your prospects. The higher the number of reviews, the greater the chance of people choosing your property over others. If most of the reviews are positive, one bad review won’t affect your average rating much, but it will increase the views of your property. And if the review is unjustified, the viewers will be able to see for themselves.

10. Report abusive or spam reviews:

Sadly, we live in a world with cut-throat competition. It might be very well possible that some of your competitors have floated a rumor about your property just to put you down. If you think that a review is ingenuine, you can request the portal to remove it. However, use this option only when necessary. The portal might refuse to remove a genuine bad review or may bar your property if you misuse this option. 

Many times you may not be required to report. The portals themselves have certain prerequisites for posting a review. So you can try to give a good negative review about the guest and try to put things as truthfully as possible.

Airbnb monitors the reviews and removes them if they are irrelevant or have sensitive information or violence. Tripadvisor requires the reviews to be free from abusive language and Facebook needs the reviews to meet their community standards. 

A preventive measure is to request your customers for feedback at the time of checkout. This gives them a chance to express dissatisfaction then and there. At times the only reason for posting a bad review is to inform the owner. If the customer already gives you bad feedback, he is less likely to post a bad review. Until and unless he is thoroughly dissatisfied. At this time, you may give him a small token of appreciation as a courteous gesture. This can reduce his dissatisfaction tremendously and bring him to your property again. 

All said and done, at the end of the day, you should know that you can’t be perfect. You can’t please everyone. Haters gonna hate but you have to keep going to successfully operate your vacation rental business. Take criticism to the extent that it improves your property but not to the extent that it brings you down emotionally. If you know that you are trying your best, then it will pay you well in the long run. Take reviews positively, look for new ideas and areas of improvement, stay updated, and be aware of what your competitors are doing better than you.

Criticism is a part and parcel of life, you can’t avoid it. But you can learn from it. I hope dealing with those nasty reviews will become easier for you now. Stay strong, keep moving, keep improving!

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