Ask an experienced investor for vacation rental advice on how to approach negative reviews, and you could get any number of answers. Every rental owner has their own system for handling bad reviews. What works for one investor may not work for another. With that said however, there are a few basic steps that you can take that will allow you to hopefully turn a potential disaster into a positive experience.
Poor reviews are something that just about every vacation rental owner will encounter at some stage. While many reviews are based on cold, hard facts, some are written in anger by guests who may not have tried to resolve their grievances before putting proverbial pen to paper. A fraction of negative reviews could even be a deliberate attempt to discredit your establishment, although this is rare. The majority of bad reviews come down to a simple case of expectations not being met in some way. Perhaps your listing was a bit misleading. Maybe your concierge service was lacking. Whatever the case, reviews are a way for you to get vital feedback that allows you to improve your offering. If you get a bad review, the very best vacation rental advice that you could ever consider is to first focus on responding to the review, and secondly, prevent such reviews from happening again.
Vacation Rental Advice: Dealing With Negative Reviews
Just how do you go about responding to negative reviews then? The short answer: very, very carefully! The most important thing is to approach reviews extremely carefully. Some vacation rental advice to keep in mind when responding to reviews:
- Do not ever respond in haste, anger or defensiveness. The worst thing that you can do is type off a defensive or angry response the very moment you see the review. For one thing, the review may well be on a public forum, such as a vacation rental booking site, a consumer complaints board or a blog. That means that everyone will see your response. Do you really want prospective guests seeing you go into attack mode? Like it or not, many negative reviews at at least a little based on negative experiences that a guest may have had at your establishment. Some may be hard to please problem guests, but others will likely have valid concerns. Step back, take time to think and then draft a response when you have had time to decide what to say.
- Listen to what your guest is saying. Really listen. Is the review justified? Have other guests made similar comments? Is there anything that you could or should have done differently? Did you provide your guest with the best possible experience during their stay? If you have had similar comments, or the guest has brought up issues that you cannot ignore, this is the time to gear into action to make changes. Maybe you have been trying to do everything yourself, to the point where guest service is starting to slide. It may be time to consider a vacation rental property manager to help you run your property to the highest possible standard.
- Take responsibility, regardless of whether you are at fault. The last thing you want to do is blame a complaint on your guest. Blaming your staff is poor form, too. Take responsibility and let your guest know that you are committed to finding a solution. Thank them for bringing their concerns to you. Show that you are listening. Be kind, be polite, and most of all, be professional.
- Draw up a draft response. If possible, have your response written by a marketing professional, or your short term rental manager. Consider the tips above, ensuring that you are not angry, defensive, rude or trying to pass the buck. Demonstrate that you are listening. Keep your response short and simple. Reassure the guest that you will personally ensure that the problem is resolved and that it will not happen again. If there was a genuine fault and your property was to blame, offer compensation.
- Be transparent. How a business responds to reviews is telling. It is tempting to deliver a template response asking the guest to contact you directly. While this can work in some cases, it can also back-fire by making it seem like you are trying to sweep things under the rug rather than deal with the complaint transparently. Keeping your response short and simple, while acknowledging responsibility and showing that you are invested in a solution is the best option. You can finish the response by providing your contact details and encouraging further communication. But this way, when anyone sees the review, they will also see your response.
What you don’t want to do is ignore poor reviews, respond rudely or hide reviews. Proactively handling negative reviews is a very powerful strategy that can help you grow your reputation. This takes a potentially bad situation and turns it into a positive situation, showing prospective guests that you take reviews seriously.
Looking for more valuable vacation rental advice? Partnering with an experienced vacation rental manager is the best way to prevent bad reviews. With the help of comprehensive marketing, day to day management, guest services, booking management and other bespoke solutions, Totalstay provides a full service approach to management that keeps your rental in peak condition all year round. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer!