As a hotel – even if you’re doing everything spotlessly – mistakes can happen, your guests have different expectations, and a negative review can show up on your hotel’s profile.
If that happens, it’s important to know exactly what to do and not let your emotions come out and react impulsively. Otherwise, you put your entire online reputation at risk.
So here is my advice on how to deal with negative reviews, and – even better – prevent them in the first place.
Nobody likes to read negative words about their work, especially if you feel like you didn’t deserve it. So the first thing you need to do when you see a negative review about your hotel is to stay calm. Don’t let your emotions dictate your reaction.
Other people will see this review – and the way you have handled it – so it’s important to have a cool head.
Read the review thoroughly and write down the main points of it – what are they complaining about? Is it something that is under your control or not?
For example, if the review is about the cleanliness of the hotel, you can actually take some actions to make sure you don’t get a review like that again. Look in what room that guest has stayed, talk to the staff, and try to find out if there were really some oversight from your side.
But if a guest is complaining about the location of the hotel, the destination or something that is outside your control, the review has a significantly lower impact on your hotel’s reputation.
However, you still need to replay it, so take the main point or points from the review. That will make sure you have addressed everything the guest is complaining about in your further communication with them.
Don’t ignore or delete it
People look at hotel reviews before they decide to book it. Obviously, negative reviews are not going to help you here, but it doesn’t mean they can damage your reputation either. If you provide a good public response so other people can see it, you can neutralise the effects of that review.
Again, depending if the review is about something that is directly related to your hotel or not, your response and the plan of action will be different, but in both cases, you can show that your guests are a priority through your response to that review.
The worst thing you can do is ignore negative reviews. That can show others that you don’t care about what your guests think, you don’t intend to improve your hotel experience and in that case – people will quickly remove your hotel as an option.
So never ignore them, and always try to address them and reply to them as soon as you can.
Have a policy in place
I firmly believe that every hotel, no matter how big or small, should have a review policy in place as soon as it opens to the public. What I mean by review policy is, simply, a set of rules and procedures for responding to reviews – both positive and negative.
For example, you can reward guests who took their time to leave a positive review by offering them a discount on their next booking. You can equally offer guests who left negative reviews a complimentary gift, like free dinner at your restaurant, a spa voucher or something similar, as a way to show you really want them to have the best possible experience in your hotel.
As I mentioned above, some reviews will and some won’t be justified, which is why these policies can come in handy and also save you a lot of time on thinking about how to deal with a certain review.
You can also set out rules, or some templates for responses, that you can easily adapt and personalise. All these things will help you manage reviews in a timely manner, and make sure you are dealing with reviews professionally and aligned with your brand.
Prevention is better than cure
Lastly, the best way to deal with negative reviews is to try to prevent them in the first place.
There are a few ways you can do that. For example, you can ask your guests directly when they are checking out to share if their stay has met their expectations. Tell your staff to regularly check in on your guests, asking them to report any issues or unpleasant situations they might have experienced.
You can do that also via email. For example, on the day when your guests are checking in, send them an email with useful information about their stay, so that they can report to your staff any issues.
Some hotels even allow every member of staff to spend a certain amount of money to “save the guest experience” without having to ask line managers for approval.
Of course, these all depend on the type of your hotel, the budget, and the type of guests that are staying. So make sure you know your customer personas, and your guests, and create a policy that is suitable for them.