How to Respond to Negative Reviews About Cleanliness

by | July 7, 2020

In the wake of the coronavirus, travelers are more discerning with cleanliness practices of all businesses, but hotels especially have come under watchful eyes. Guests may avoid discussing their concerns with you, taking their frustrations to online reviews. Writing a well-composed response to a negative review about cleanliness can seem difficult, but there are strategies to make the process painless. If you take these guidelines to heart, you’ll be able to redirect any concerns and reassure future guests of the safety of your hotel.

1. Implement the “Positive Sandwich” Model

In our previous resource, we discussed the positive sandwich review response style. This format begins with a positive sentiment before addressing guest concerns, and finishes with another positive sentiment to leave the guest feeling calm.

Consider the following sample review:

“My stay at this hotel was horrible! It felt so dirty, I never saw a housekeeper the whole time I was there, and I can’t even tell the last time they really cleaned. Dust everywhere. UGH!”

With the positive sandwich format, you’d write a response like this:

  • Positive opening: “Thank you for choosing to spend your time in the area with us.”
  • Address guest concerns and apologize: “It’s disheartening to hear that you were not entirely comfortable during your stay, and we apologize.”
  • Promise future action: “We’ll investigate your concerns promptly to ensure immediate resolution.”
  • Positive ending: “Again, we appreciate your time and wish you all the best in your future travels.”

As a straightforward response, it does the job. However, there’s more you can (and should) add to your response to ensure the reviewer feels heard. Personalizing your response to include the specific elements of their stay the guest was dissatisfied with will help them feel less like their comments were dismissed.

2. Reiterate Your Cleaning Policies

housekeeping staff member gathering dirty towels


When a guest is concerned that your hotel isn’t clean, one of the best ways you can assuage their fears is by reiterating your current cleaning practices. Are you conducting hourly checks on every shared space, disinfecting and cleaning the area regularly? Do you allow a set amount of time between guest visits to reduce the risk of spreading germs? Talk about your procedures in your response to your guest. There is a chance that, even if you posted copious resources online describing your policy changes, the guest still didn’t have the chance to read them in-depth. Reiterating what you’re doing to combat the spread of bacteria will help the guest understand that even if they didn’t see your staff cleaning all the time, important maintenance was performed throughout the duration of the visit.

3. Consult Your Housekeeping Staff

If the negative review contains anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to consult your staff about it right away. Clearing up any miscommunication that occurred between the guest and your staff will help you write a personalized response that de-escalates the situation. Future guests will feel reassured by your response – knowing that concerns are discussed appropriately with staff on-site helps them feel that you care about their comfort and safety, especially during uncertain times. It may serve as a welcome opportunity to review your updated cleaning schedule with your staff, as well. Reiterating the basics will help your housekeeping team adjust to a new routine.

4. Name Specific Cleaning Products

bottle spraying a cleaning fluid onto a surface


The EPA is continually updating their list of appropriate products to use in the fight against COVID-19. If you’re using any of the 400+ disinfectants and cleaners listed, naming them in response to negative reviews provides concrete evidence of your efforts. For some, simply stating your new rigorous cleaning schedules isn’t enough – travelers want the assurance that the products you’re using are also keeping them safe. With a specific product name, reviewers and future guests can look up the product and read the details for themselves. This also helps future guests with allergies to certain cleaning products – they can then reach out to you, allowing you the chance to adapt some of your cleaning schedule to better suit their individual needs.

It’s important to respond to all your reviews to help boost your reputation score and improve the first impression guests have when they visit your review sites. Tackling the negative reviews is never easy, but our team of expert Response Analysts at Travel Media Group are ready and eager to help you manage your reputation. Visit our Respond & Resolve™ page for more information about how we can make responding to all your reviews a stress-free experience.


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