13 Tips for Responding to Negative Hotel Reviews

Responding to negative hotel reviews can be a daunting task. But did you know that people are just as likely to trust reviews as their friends?! And we all know the value of word of mouth. So, keeping up to date with your reviews is essential for running a successful small business. It’s also a great way to connect with future guests, build trust and lets them know what they can expect during a stay at your property.

As the former owner of successful hospitality businesses, I’ve navigated the choppy waters of guest feedback and learned the art of crafting responses that not only address concerns but also showcase your commitment to excellence.

Whether you’re facing your first negative review or looking to refine your approach, this guide is tailored to help you respond with confidence, empathy, and professionalism, transforming challenges into chances for enhancing your reputation and guest relations.

Here’s everything you need to know when responding to reviews.

A smiling woman in a chic black dress carries a tray with a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee in a well-appointed hotel dining area, embodying the attentive service often praised in positive hotel reviews as opposed to negative hotel reviews.

Tips For Responding To Negative Hotel Reviews

1. Use Their Name

Using the reviewer’s name personalizes your response and speaks directly to the reviewer. However, be cautious with this and make sure it’s already published with their review first. If they post anonymously, do not use their name, as this breaches their privacy. But if not, go for it! Addressing them directly makes for a much more authentic and genuine response.

2. Thank The Reviewer

Whether the review is good or bad, always thank the guest for their feedback. Most reviewers (and people in general!) just want to be heard and acknowledged, so it’s important to do this, even if you don’t necessarily agree with the feedback.

3. Be Genuine

Responding to reviews is a great way to connect with a previous or potential future guest. It’s a chance to genuinely give the reader an insight into your story, and what you and your small business stand for.

Hotel receptionist providing a pleasant check-in experience to a couple, with a smile and extending a room key card, set against a backdrop of clocks showing different world times.

4. Stay Calm

Whilst generally, most guests are a pleasure to deal with, every now and then you get those curly ones.

You know the ones, the ones that give no indication or opportunity to rectify an issue, even though most of the time the problem can be quickly resolved with one phone call! Those people that, rather than discussing an issue face to face, prefer to wait and write a nasty review whilst hidden behind an online pseudonym and the comfort of their keyboard.

It can be painful but don’t take it personally, maybe even a draft response with your initial feelings, then delete it, compose yourself and draft a calm response.

5. Don’t Get Defensive

Following on from the last point, when you get a negative review it can be easy to get defensive. This is not a good look; it sounds like you’re in the wrong and scrambling for a cover up. So instead, take the high road. Acknowledge that you’ve received their feedback and you’re sorry they feel that way. Future readers will be impressed with your grounded and calm response.

6. Let Them Know You’ve Taken Action

Sometimes a reviewer will alert you to an issue that you didn’t know about, for example, a leaky tap. If the issue has been resolved, make sure you thank them for bringing it to your attention and advise that it has been resolved. This shows you are open to accepting feedback and proactive in fixing any issues.

7. Reiterate Positive Feedback  

Repeating a reviewer’s positive comments in your response is a a great way to remind the readers of all the great things about your property. For example. ‘we’re so pleased you enjoyed our central location’.

8. Individualize Your Responses

NEVER copy and paste the same response to multiple reviews. Doing this can come across as lazy and careless. People write reviews to share their experience and they want to be heard. Let them know you’re listening by tailoring each response to suit.

Sound time consuming? It’s not! As well as incorporating their name and repeating their positive comments, all you need are a few variations of the same points, for example, ‘thank you for your review’ / ‘thank you for reviewing our property’ / ‘thanks so much for your recent visit’, and then alternate them, so that your responses read slightly different each time.

A customer survey form titled 'CUSTOMER SURVEY FORM' awaits feedback on a wooden table, with sections for personal information and service level assessment ranging from 'Excellent' to 'Poor', a tool for measuring guest satisfaction that can influence negative hotel reviews.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Address Future Readers

Sometimes a reviewer might mention something incorrect about your property. Whilst you are writing a response to the reviewer, keep in mind that potential future guests are reading these comments too. So don’t be afraid to set the record straight by talking to them directly, for example, ‘we wanted to let future readers know that we do offer breakfast…’

10. Check for Spelling and Grammar Errors

This should go without saying, but always check your spelling and grammar before posting a response. It’s vital that you come across as friendly, yes, but also professional in your response. Misspelling a word or using the wrong grammar can come across as careless. And, if you’re spelling is careless, who’s not to say the cleanliness of the room is careless, the check-in process is slack, the communication is bad?

Your review response might be the first point of contact between you and a future guest, so use it to build trust, communicate your professionalism and that when they book to stay with you, they’re in the best of hands!

11. Report Damaging Reviews

Whilst you would hope that most reviews are written with good intentions, on the very rare occasion you might get a damaging review. If you feel the information is defamatory or false, then request that the relevant platform have it removed.

12. Always Welcome Them Back

Review responses are a great way to connect with your guest post-stay. Use this opportunity to personally invite them back. Come up with some variations along the lines of ‘we hope to see you again soon!’ and tag these on to the end of each review before signing off.

13. Sign Off

Use this article to help you structure your review responses and then sign off in a sincere but professional way, such as ‘warm regards’ or ‘kind regards’ followed by your name and title.

Warmly lit reception area with a friendly front desk staff member standing ready to assist guests, representing the kind of positive customer service that counters negative hotel reviews.

Wrapping Up: How To Respond To Negative Reviews At Your Hotel

Effectively managing negative hotel reviews is crucial for maintaining and enhancing your establishment’s reputation. By applying the strategies discussed, you can transform potentially damaging feedback into opportunities for improvement and positive guest engagement.

Remember, each review is a chance to showcase your commitment to guest satisfaction and service excellence.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the task of responding to reviews or simply wish to ensure your responses are professionally handled, I’m here to help. With my extensive experience in the hospitality industry and expertise in crafting thoughtful, impactful responses, I can take this responsibility off your hands. Check out my services page and contact me for a quote. Let’s work together to turn your reviews into a driving force for success and growth!