5 Ways to Turn a Negative Review Into a Positive

by | August 13, 2019

There are few things more frustrating for a hotelier than receiving a scathing online review. It’s natural to feel defensive, angry, and disappointed when a guest posts negative feedback about their experience. What should you do when you receive a negative hotel review? The best course of action is to respond in a way that helps turn that negative feedback into a positive story about your hotel. In this article, we will share ways to make the most of your negative reviews without alienating your guests.

1. Be Prompt

When a negative review is shared about your hotel, it’s essential to respond right away. Every minute a bad review is online without a response is an opportunity for potential guests to make a decision about your hotel. If you respond right away, you can share a more positive perspective about your property. Don’t let a negative review go unanswered and cost you potential business. 

With 290 new contributions every minute to TripAdvisor, it may feel overwhelming to keep up with responding to reviews. However, by responding quickly, you will demonstrate that you are responsive to your customer’s needs. To facilitate a prompt response, sign up for instant notifications of new traveler reviews from all review and social media sites using a platform like TMG OneView®.

2. Resolve Customer Concerns

Displeased business woman calling with phone in the luxury hotel room.

Every day at your hotel, hospitality professionals are tasked with resolving guest concerns. Think about review responses as an extension of this guest service. You can follow the same process in a review response that you would with a disgruntled guest at the front desk. It’s important to get a solid understanding of the situation, which may require investigating with your housekeeping, front desk, or maintenance staff. Once you have the necessary information, you can inform the guest of the actions you’re taking to solve the issue. 

Resolving a guest complaint benefits more than just the guest who wrote the review. By sharing the steps you’ve taken to rectify the situation, you will build confidence in future guests and demonstrate your ability to solve problems. A New York University study found that 95% of respondents report reading travel reviews prior to booking. By putting the guests’ needs first in your review response, you can attract more travelers to book with you. 

3. Emphasize the Positives

So often we talk about reviews as being negative or positive, but that implies that a guest provided either 100% praise or 100% criticism. In reality, many reviews posted online include both positive and negative elements. This makes responding to a mixed-sentiment review a bit more complex. If you’ve received a negative review, you can help turn it into a positive for your hotel by emphasizing any good things mentioned in the review. If the review doesn’t offer any praise for your property, you can still mention some of the best features in your review. For example, “We hope you had a chance to enjoy our complimentary hot breakfast during your stay.”

Even if a review said 10 critical things about your hotel and 1 positive thing, you should start off your response with the positive. For example, “Thank you for your kind words about the location of our property. Many of our guests return to our hotel in part because of the convenient location.” Then you can address the negative criticism next. Finally, you can finish your review with a positive message such as, “We’re confident that should you return to our property, we can exceed your expectations.” By sandwiching the criticisms between positive sentiments in your reply, you can emphasize the positive features of your hotel. 

4. Communicate Your Values

Portrait of a happy young businesswoman working with laptop while sitting at the table in an office

It can be really frustrating for hoteliers to read a negative review of their property. We hear GMs often say, “that’s just their opinion” or “they’re only telling one side of the story.” The good news is that through review response, you can tell the hotel’s side of the story. A word of caution: we never recommend posting a response that is defensive or accusatory in reply to a negative review. Instead, this is another opportunity to position your hotel in a positive light. 

Throughout your review responses, we recommend finding ways to communicate your values as a hotel. Here’s an example of how you can do that: “At our hotel, we’re committed to creating positive guest experiences through exceptional service and value.” By using one sentence of your response to criticism to tell future guests about your dedication to hospitality, you can turn a negative review into a positive message about your hotel. 

5. Invite Guests to Return

For every review – positive or negative – we recommend inviting your guests to return for another visit to the property. It’s true that some guests are unlikely to give you a second chance. However, even the act of inviting an unhappy traveler to return to your property communicates some positive things about your hotel. 

First, inviting disgruntled guests back to the property is a sign that you welcome all travelers to your hotel. Next, it communicates confidence in your ability to provide a better experience in the future. Finally, it can act as an open invitation to potential guests reading the review response. 

Respond & Resolve

Whether you receive 2 or 200 negative reviews each month, following these steps can result in positive sentiment about your hotel. In fact, 84% of review readers say that when a hotel manager offers an appropriate response to a negative review, it improves their impression of the hotel. If you need help responding to negative reviews, our team of experts can help. Learn about our Respond & Resolve™ program today! 



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