negative reviews

How to respond to a negative review

People look forward to vacations. You are now part of their life. If accommodations you are providing fall flat for any reason, it is likely going to end up a negative review. Modern social media has made negative reviews acceptable and commonplace, but don’t worry too much, they don’t have to be the end of the world.

No matter the reason a negative review can knock you out of superhost status, cause a slow down in bookings and be mentally taxing and emotionally painful. They are never pleasant nor easy to read. Unfortunately, they happen to all of us, even when performing at the top of our game. But, then what? How do you proceed? What is the best way to respond?

Your first negative review can be nearly overwhelming, especially if you have had a long string of positive 5-star reviews. Even if you feel a review was inaccurate, you should respond. When it is intentionally bad, your should respond. When a review is good, you should respond. Be considerate in your response whether the review was positive or negative. Here are a few ways to handle bad reviews professionally:

stay positive and validate

Negative reviews are not always bad. I have seen hosts obtain new clientele just because they left an incredible response to a negative review. This is a chance to show off your professionalism and linguistic ability. Negative reviews are often the first things people read, so the response can be extremely relevant. Hosting platform’s reviews are especially visible so a reply is essential. Taking negative complaints seriously will help reassure people that you will recognize and validate any problems they could face too.

cheerful surprised woman sitting with laptop

Guests that complain may just want to know that you took their complaint seriously, that you are going to validate the way they feel, or that you are willing to recognize their position. It is unfortunate that a complaint can make it into a review as the concern was likely already addressed. But, simply addressing an issue or problem doesn’t mean that it went away or that the guest found your solution pleasing.

The worst thing you can do when responding to a negative review blames the guest or make them feel attacked. Most people will recognize that things cannot be perfect all the time, but negative reviews are often left through the lens of emotion, not mindful thought. You have to respond thoughtfully without emotion.

Reflect and concede…a little

What made your guest unhappy? Can you see the complaint from their perspective? Can you salvage that relationship? Be honest with yourself and apply what you do consistently.

Think about some customer service statistics before you answer a negative review.

man and woman standing beside white car having a discussion
  • Far fewer people will recommend you based on a good experience than they will blast you based on a negative experience. Some positive news is that we live in a modern world where social media reigns king. Good experiences end up on social media as posts reflecting positivism whereas bad experiences are relegated to negative reviews.
  • 8 of 10 customers that remain unhappy, (due perhaps to a complaint that went unaddressed) will not willingly do business with you again.
  • Seeing something from the customer’s perspective and making even a small concession in their favor, can result in up to a 70% chance they will do business with you again…even if you don’t want to do business with them.

What do these numbers mean? Give them something. If you come straight out of the gate with a new short term and start getting poor reviews, you are unlikely to recover. So, just bite your tongue and make a concession, especially early on.

keep your cool

Negative reviews are based on something called perspective truth. A client will see things how they see them and you will see them how you see them. Because of this, you will likely find considerable fault or untruth in a negative review. At the very least, it will look unfair. Take a beat, respond only when you have had time to adequately think about the review. Never respond while in a heightened emotional state. There is no need to be defensive, just professional.

know what happened

Talk to the people that may have been involved in situations that lead to the poor review. Watch the footage, review photos, and read conversations that took place between guests and your staff. You should have as much information as possible. You may even want to talk directly to the guest that left the poor review, come to a resolution, and ask them to remove it.

say thank you

Say thank you for pointing out a flaw you can fix, and for taking the time to write a review. Tell them that this new enlightenment will result in making your str that much better in the future.

thank you printed on a notebook

If they mentioned anything that they liked, be sure to mention those things in your response first. Go on to the negatives, confirm and validate anything that did happen, then explain your side without attacking, finger-pointing, or being negative yourself.


Often times negative reviews are going to focus on one thing. That doesn’t mean the entire stay was bad and that IS worth mentioning. You could also remind your guest about attempts made to resolve the issue during their stay, including communication, if a concession or compensation was offered, or any other solutions you came up with.

Remain available

Reviews on some platforms can take a while. It is always a good idea to mention that you were and always will remain available for guest complaints for any reason. This can be a difficult thing to communicate in a response and could come off wrong if the wording isn’t just right. Have someone else read it before you hit the send button to ensure you sound genuinely concerned rather than petty.

man having a phone call in front of a laptop

In your actual listing, in your house rules, and anywhere else your guest may read about your home before their stay, including check-in instructions, make sure your guests know they can contact someone 24/7. Leave a contact number in the property and as part of the house rules. In fact, leave a minimum of three ways to contact someone. A phone number and an alternate as well as an email address. Encourage them to utilize a hosting site’s messaging system for better record keeping.

don’t fight

Be detailed, honest, and professional. On some platforms, a guest can respond to a response. If that takes place, take it private and do not attempt an additional response yourself. The last thing you want is an online feud for everyone to see. Remember that your potential future guests are reading your reviews, so you need to remain in control and stay professional. While it can feel good in the very short term to make another human feel small, in the end, it only makes you look that way.

multiethnic women fighting in room


They happen. Many businesses get poor reviews on a daily basis. Reviews, even bad ones can actually make you look more real. Don’t ever let negative reviews get you down emotionally. Rather, stay calm and deal with them in a professional way. With these aforementioned tips, you’ll be ready to take on any negative comments, and even prevent some of them from occurring in the first place. Stay positive, reflect, understand the problem, stay cool, say thanks, remind them, don’t fight, and remain available to actively solve problems. Best of luck.

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