How to handle negative reviews

Customer reviews are a double edged sword for any reputable hotel establishment, yet more and more hoteliers are encouraging their guests to voice their opinions online. Why is that?

Guests look to other guest’ approval above all other standards of quality. They look at how often your hotel gets reviewed and they take into account the experiences described by previous guests as well as how well you’ve responded to them.

Positive reviews are the end goal, yet the reality of running a business is that things won't always go according to plan. A clear tell of a good hotel manager is how well they handle adversity in a forum of public opinion. If a guest posts a negative review how would you respond? Better yet, do you respond at all?

Negative reviews carry a special kind of shame attached to them. It’s as if someone has tagged the very walls of your establishment. Yes you can wash it off or paint over it, but the fact is, it was there, and it has been seen by anyone who’s scrolled by.

So how do you face negativity with dignity and turn it into your advantage?

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!
It’s not really a matter of “if” you’re going to get a negative review, but rather of when. Experiences will vary, and it is important to show that you are willing to take into consideration all feedback.
Potential guests are particularly keen on reading negative hotel reviews for exactly this reason, and a polite and timely response from a staff member can easily turn the scales of their opinion of your hotel.
Training your staff how to handle negativity both in person and online can help diminish guest frustration and cure the damage done to your rating. Here are some steps you should follow:
  • You should always make certain that you understand the nature of a complaint. Was the guest’s time wasted? Were they displeased with the quality of a service? Do they feel that you’ve misrepresented your hotel?
  • Check in with other members of the staff in order to get the full picture. Guests complaints are still the best way of running quality checks on your services but in a market which makes certain that the customer is always right, many businesses may fall prey to certain predatory practices, such as unnecessary refunds.
  • If you have established an issue, make sure to come up with solutions, both short-term and long-term, which can be implemented as quickly as possible.
  • Thank the guest for raising their concerns and list the steps you’re taking to remedy the issue.Remember, your future guests will see this review, and if they see you making promises of changes that never came into fruition they will again leave a negative review. One bad review is a fluke, two is a systemic problem.
  • Extend an invitation to repeat their stay so that you may improve on it the second time around.
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A timely response can change the nature of the review. The longer the negative review remains unanswered, the more true it stands to everyone who reads it. Potential guests are equally likely to be put off by the content of the review and by the fact that hotel management does not take guest complaints seriously enough to address them directly.
So how do you and your staff find the time to handle customer service online while also running a hotel?
Much of modern hotel services have received a digital makeover with property management systems (PMS) becoming integrated and expanding their reach to include all vital functions of your business. For instance, obtaining an integrated channel manager can significantly reduce the time spent on managing distribution channels, updating rates and relisting late cancellations.
A cloud-based PMS can aid your staff in managing the business side of your hotel while also leaving enough time for them to cater to guests needs and respond to queries and concerns both online and in-person.
Why do guests write negative reviews in the first place? Well for once, they have faced issues that were not addressed on time, leading to them having a less than satisfactory stay at your hotel. Another reason being, they had no other option.
Bar the people who make a scene every time something is not to their liking, most guests will simply quietly sulk until their stay is over then go on to complain online. A sure fire way to dissuade them from doing this is to present them with an alternative.
Composing a brief questionnaire focusing on both the good and bad aspects of their stay will be quite useful in helping the guest view their stay in a different light. They will have an opportunity to be heard, and you will have an opportunity improve your guests' satisfaction rates by acquiring the additional data without exposing your business to public judgement and risking your ranking.
If they have made a reservation with you directly through your hotel booking engine you can email them the questionnaire, since their info would already be in your system.
Once you’ve reviewed their response, make certain to write back a short but personalised message addressing their concerns and thanking them for taking the time to answer. If a guest feels like their opinion has been taken into consideration they are less likely to repeat the same concerns online. And if your response was exactly what they needed to hear, then they might even consider staying with you again.
Following Through
Listen to your guests, if you notice a pattern of concerns, then you might have a serious issue on your hands. There is only so much that can go wrong in an establishment, and often the issues at hand tend to boil down to timing and communication.
Guests hate waiting, so reducing the time they spend in lines or on the phone would greatly improve their overall experience at your hotel. There are a number of hotel technologies you can use to do this, you can choose to invest in a self-service solution such as a hotel kiosk, which would allow your guests to register and check in without needing to go through the process at the front desk.
A mobile housekeeping solution is another great way to save time and improve communication between your staff. Every time your housekeepers are finished with a room they can instantly update that room’s status and the staff at the front desk will be able to see it and allow the guests to move in.
Improving on existing services holds a huge pay off for your business in the long run. After all the best way to avoid negative feedback is to give your guests nothing to complain about.

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You may also find interesting:

The Essential Guide to Hotel Software Solutions
Five Ways Hotels Can Use Technology For a Better Guest Experience
Property Management System - Investing in the Future

About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.