How to Respond to Negative Reviews About Discrimination
Negative reviews happen to everyone; even if you do everything you can to provide the best experience, guests may still harbor concerns that they feel more comfortable voicing on an online platform. Although a negative review can relate to any topic, one of the most concerning to receive is when a guest feels they’ve been discriminated against at your property. It can be a stressful moment for you as a hotel manager, but if handled responsibly you can gracefully de-escalate the situation and assuage guest concerns. Following these 4 steps will help ensure your response content is clear and professional.
1. Remain Calm
When it comes to responding to negative reviews, “remain calm” should be your golden rule. Writing a response while emotions are still high may lead to unwanted accusations or defensive behavior that is off-putting to guests. If you find a negative review makes you frustrated, giving yourself a few minutes to stop and think will allow you to return to the keyboard with a professional attitude. Staying calm and sympathetic toward guest concerns helps you redirect your emotion into proper action to smooth over the situation.
2. Discuss Review Content with Staff
If your staff was involved, call a meeting to reiterate your zero-tolerance policies surrounding discrimination in the workplace. You may also want to speak to any specific staff mentioned individually to get their perspective on what occurred with the guest. This knowledge will help you better understand any miscommunication that may have occurred, if any, that you can use in your response to the guest. Alternatively, you can use it as a learning experience to further train your staff on ethical, non-discriminatory behavior. This may especially be the case if the discrimination in question was a microaggression, an act that is often done unconsciously.
Educating your staff on actions like microaggressions will help them to practice anti-racism and anti-discrimination. Introducing a healthy means of self-awareness and accountability to your team will also result in a more inclusive workplace, which reflects positively on your business.
3. Explain Your Anti-Discrimination Policies, and Apologize
When a guest experiences discrimination at your hotel, they may be under the impression or assumption that this is normal business practice. Reiterating your policies both reassures them it is outside of acceptable behavior and shows future travelers that you, as the manager, understand and respect these policies. This element of your response can be as brief as a sentence such as: “Our hotel has a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination of any kind, and we apologize for your experience.” Or, you can go in-depth about your training with your staff, depending on the specifics of the discrimination that the guest experienced. Once you’ve written it, review your word choices carefully to avoid any further microaggressions or discriminatory language.
The important element to keep in mind when writing this part of your response, no matter the length, is to be empathetic and honest. Owning up to a genuine mistake leaves a much better impression to future travelers looking at your reviews online than sweeping guest statements under the rug. Like any communication, the reviewer wants to feel heard and respected in their emotion, even if a simple misunderstanding was the root cause.
4. Reassure the Guest Action Will Be (or Has Been) Taken
In many of TMG’s review response guides, we encourage a “positive sandwich” model of responding: start with a lighthearted sentiment (such as thanks), address the concerns, and end on a positive note for the guest. In terms of negative reviews about discrimination, the ending half of your sandwich can be a reassurance to the guest that something has been done to address their concerns at the property level. Taking the time in your response to reassure the reviewer that you’ve taken appropriate action around the situation will help assuage anxieties of future guests.
Many reviewers primarily leave their thoughts online as a means for other travelers to understand what their experience was at your hotel – in some cases, it serves as a warning. When potential guests read that you’ve held your staff accountable for discriminatory acts, it helps them understand that you’re serious about your commitment to equality.
Addressing negative reviews online isn’t easy, especially when a guest feels they’ve been discriminated against. Remaining empathetic, open-minded, and calm while writing your response can help make the process much smoother for everyone involved. Our Respond & Resolve™ team are experts in handling these situations while keeping in touch with you to make sure your hotel’s voice is clear and consistent. Learn more about how we can help you with professional review response on our service page.