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How property managers should deal with bad guest reviews

Reading guest reviews is probably the easiest part of property management, and definitely the most rewarding. Receiving all those twinkling stars for your hard work, being praised as “the best host ever,” which you totally are, and reading that your guests can’t wait to stay in your rental again next year.

But then it happens. After becoming immune to emails patting you on the back for yet another 5-star review, you’re notified that you received a scathing 1-star review. You don’t deserve that, your hosting skills are unparalleled. But even the best hosts can’t please everyone.

As bookings increase and you’re hosting more and more guests, it’s only a matter of time until something goes wrong. Maybe you had to deal with something personal and weren’t able to tend to each of your guests’ needs, or perhaps your guests simply didn’t enjoy visiting your city and decided to take out their frustrations on your rental, or hosting ability. Regardless of why, receiving only one out of five stars can really feel like a slap in the face.

Even so, it’s critical, now more than ever, to handle the situation as calmly as possible. When every ounce of your being is urging you to kick, scream or send hate mail, it’s important to take a deep breath and follow these instructions instead.

Talk Through the Bad Review

Even after the guest review has been posted, it’s never too late to fix the situation. Although you are feeling far less than enamored with them, contact the guest directly to find out what exactly they found to be unsatisfactory.

Listen to what they have to say about what bothered them during their stay. Once you have a clearer picture of what exactly happened, you can begin making amends by explaining what went wrong and why. You’ll be surprised at how often bad reviews are a result of a simple misunderstanding which led your guest to feel neglected. Not only does this dialogue help in mending the feelings of neglect, but you can use the feedback to handle similar situations in the future.

Say You’re Sorry, No Matter How Much You Don’t Want To

Hosting can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day it’s still your business, and just like any other business, you need to internalize that “the customer is always right,” even when they’re not. No matter what your guest has to say after you reach out privately, apologize. Let them know you genuinely feel bad for their negative experience. Show understanding for their complaints, but defend your business when it’s absolutely necessary.

How to respond to a bad guest review

Respond, Don’t React

If the guest review is truly atrocious, apologize publicly by directly responding to the review on your page. Mention that what happened was a rare occurrence to assure perspective guests that what allegedly happened is not the standard for your company, while still maintaining your reputation as a great host. The response alone will show other guests how seriously you take hosting.

Keep it Professional

In the midst of responding, make sure that things don’t get out of hand. Your guest may have said something vulgar about you, but the best way to maintain your credibility on a public and permanent forum is to take the high road. A hostile response from you will deter other guests and tarnish your reputation more than the bad review itself.

Turn Lemons into Lemonade

Use a negative review to your benefit by improving on your listing or hosting style. Your guests’ comments are similar to those snide comments from your great aunt. They’re not meant to hurt your feelings, they’re meant as constructive criticism to help you improve your performance, and to remind you to call at someone’s birthday.

If a guest gave you a low rating because your rental wasn’t clean enough, make sure to double check with your cleaners in the future so that flukes like these don’t happen again. If a review says that the kitchen wasn’t well stocked, rethink which items you put in the fridge and consider stocking in larger quantities.

This Too Shall Pass

In the property management industry reputation is everything, so yes, a bad review is legitimately upsetting, but by taking these measures you can protect your name, and your business. Read the review, take a deep breath, and do what property managers always do – fix the situation and move onto the next one.

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