We’ve all been there. We get a ding on our phone or computer that lets us know someone has left valuable feedback about their stay in our vacation home. We eagerly log in, check the review, and our heart stops. It’s not a rave review. It’s not even a decent review. It’s bad. Really bad. And whether you were expecting this or not, it can be a hard pill to swallow. So what do you do? Our first reaction may be to go crazy on the keyboard and give them a piece of our mind, but of course, that is highly unprofessional and counter productive. So after you take a deep breath, here is how you handle bad Airbnb reviews:
Give It Time
The worst thing you can do is respond to a bad review right away. Whether you like to admit it or not, your feelings are hurt, you’re angry, embarrassed or frustrated, probably similar to what the guest was feeling when they wrote the review. So take a deep breath, walk away from it and let yourself calm down. Giving yourself time to think and process what you want to say will result in a much more thought out response than replying in the heat of the moment.
Related: Airbnb Reviews: Top Influencers Affecting Your Occupancy Rate
We know, we know. For some people, apologizing can be tough to do, especially when you are certain that you did nothing wrong. But your guest feels otherwise, and their feelings deserve to be acknowledged too, even though it is hard. “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you think that” is not good enough; it doesn’t put any responsibility on you. Find one thing that you could have done better in the situation (I’m sorry I didn’t call you back right away, or I apologize for giving you outdated information.) This will help rebuild the relationship and help the guest see that you are taking some ownership for the situation. You have to remember they’ve spent a lot of time and money on this vacation, and for whatever reason it did not go as planned. Some people get upset because they expect waterfront luxury for budget rental prices. Some get mad because the weather wasn’t what they expected. Whatever their reason is for being disappointed, help them see that you hear them and that (some) of their feelings are valid, and offer a sincere apology.
Agree. On SOMETHING.
It may be hard to find common ground with someone who basically just tore you to shreds online, but it is another way to connect with the guest and show your human side. “I would be upset too if I got the house and it was locked” or “I have kids too and I totally get how frustrating it is to be tired and ready for bed and then realize the sheets aren’t clean.” Find common ground to remind the guest that you too are human, and you really do hear and respect their issues.
Guests who leave horrible reviews can sometimes over exaggerate. Use your reply to correct (respectfully) any errors in their review. “I apologize you had to wait for the maintenance man, but he was there in 15 minutes, not 2 hours.” Use this section to remind the guests about their role in the situation, without pointing fingers or blaming. “We tried to come over and clean the sheets but you would not let us in.” This is mainly for the other readers who are reading your response to get a better picture of how the whole thing went down. Don’t nit-pick every annoying, disrespectful or horrible thing they did, that doesn’t look good for you. But don’t let them get away with lying or spinning the story in a way that makes them look blameless. Where the other two steps (apologizing and agreeing) may seem a bit passive, this step allows you to clear the air, clear up any misunderstandings, and correct any false claims or exaggerations.
Don’t, under any circumstances, resort to name calling, bullying, or personal attacks. Keep the comments focused on the events, not on the people. Don’t get personal, even if they do, and remain cool, calm and collected. If they are writing in all caps, using profanity, and a hundred exclamation marks to try to get their point across, a simple, clear, calm response will have a greater effect and will show other readers your character and composure.
Related: Everything to Know About Airbnb Reviews
One and Done
Respond to a negative review publicly only once. Do not participate in back and forth banter, as it is immature and makes a bigger online scene. Instead, offer to speak more in detail about the situation over the phone or through email. They’ve already aired enough dirty laundry; it doesn’t need to turn into a dramatic online soap opera.
A negative review is not the end of the world. In fact, a majority of people who read online reviews before booking a vacation home (almost everyone) report that they get a little suspicious when a vacation home has all rave reviews. Mistakes happen, and things go wrong sometimes. People won’t pick someone else to rent from because you have poor reviews, but they will pick someone else if they see you are unprofessional, disrespectful, unresponsive or dismissive when a problem arises. How you react and respond to a negative review says a lot about you as a person and the values that you have. Vacations are very personal, and guests want to feel safe that they are dealing with a real person who cares about whether or not they have a good time.
Don’t let a few bad reviews get you down. Learn from them, respond appropriately, and think about all of the other guests who have left five-star reviews instead.
This article has been contributed by our friends at Sky Five Properties.