Positive guest reviews are the key to success as a short-term rental host. You can have intricate welcome baskets and a smooth check-in experience, but if someone leaves a bad guest review on Airbnb, you have some damage control to attend to.

A bad review will impact where your listing appears in a platform’s search function. Multiple bad reviews will lead your property to be hidden behind pages of other five-star properties. Luckily, if you receive a bad review, there are steps you can take to rectify the situation.

This blog post provides tools to prepare you to handle a bad review and respond effectively.

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today!

Tips for Handling a Bad Guest Review

No matter what your guest writes about their stay, it is vital to remain professional at all times. Prospective guests will see your response to these reviews which can be a deciding factor if they decide to book your short-term rental. Let’s take a look at how you should respond to a bad guest review:

Ask the guest to change the review

Often a guest does not realize the drastic effect a 4-star review has over a 5-star review has on a host’s business. If you had a generally positive experience with the guest, it does not hurt to ask them to change the star rating.

Whatever comments they made in the review will not be changed, but having a higher star rating will aid your SEO ranking. Explain how important it is for hosts to maintain positive guest reviews in your message. If you had a bad experience with this guest, your message likely would not change their bad review, but it is always worth reaching out to see.

Contact the platform directly

While short-term rental platforms like Airbnb do a good job verifying a guest’s identity, sometimes unpopular guests will slip through the cracks. For example, if you suspect that the guest is violating Airbnb’s Content Policy, you can request a formal inspection of the bad review. Reviews that are considered spam, harassment, discrimination, or otherwise clearly do not reflect the author’s experience are eligible for dispute.

Give the guest Space

If you had a negative experience with a guest, do not send their guest review right away. Rather, hold off twelve or so days. This will help for a few reasons.

Your guest may forget to leave a review at all if they don’t see your review come through and if you don’t remind them to leave a review. Also, if they have already left you a review, their review will not be posted until your review posts.

That gives you some time to have the guests after that guest stay and leave a review. The most recent guest’s review is always shown at the top. Hopefully, delaying the review from a bad experience will help bury it under some more positive reviews. Host Tools will automatically ask a guest to leave a review, but in cases like this, you can always pause that message!

Respond to every bad review

It is essential that you respond to every bad review you receive. Responding to negative reviews shows future guests that you are receptive to criticism and that you actively work to resolve any issues during a stay.

Tips for Responding to a Bad Guest Review

Leave a long response

When responding to a negative guest review, be sure to write a lengthy paragraph. An in-depth response will once again show future guests that you are willing to take the time to resolve issues.

Additionally, a longer response will show a future guest a deeper look into your experience. Browsing guests are more likely to consider the opinion of a lengthy response as valid than a negative review that just says, “horrible experience!”.

Share what you learned & how you will improve

If a bad review from a guest contains a reasonable element that you can approve upon, write in your response how you are actively going to address the situation. For example, if the issue was internet speed, talk about how you are updating your broadband service to improve the speed for business travelers. This will show future guests that an issue encountered by a former guest has already been resolved – and that you will work quickly to resolve any of their requests.

How to Avoid a Bad Guest Review

It is important to have a strategy in place for dealing with a bad review. However, ultimately, you want to ensure you avoid bad reviews by automating your guest experience as much as possible.

Host Tools’ SMS feature will remind your cleaners to clean, so guests never show up to an unclean listing. Host Tools will also send automated, personalized messages asking guests if they have everything they need after they check-in.

This gives guests a chance to let you know about any issues they have before they leave a review and the opportunity to fix them. This may turn a bad review into a glowing one. If there is an issue that you can correct promptly, guests will rave about your communication, how they felt taken care of, and how quick you were to resolve any problems.

Final Thoughts

Guest reviews will make or break your short-term rental business. As hosts, we strive always to provide the ultimate customer service experience. However, sometimes things go wrong, and a guest has a criticism to share. If a guest leaves your property a bad review, remember to take these action steps to show future guests that you are a responsible host and how you address issues:

  • Ask the guest to change their review

  • Contact the booking platform directly

  • Give the guest space

  • Respond to every guest

  • Leave a lengthy response

  • Share what you have learned and how you will fix it

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today!

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