How Hoteliers Can Turn Negative Reviews into a Positive Online Image

Responding to negative reviews is the key to creating a positive online reputation for your business.

***Guest post from BlueJay Reviews, a WebRezPro partner***

Many hoteliers dread negative reviews, however it’s important to know that when negative reviews are managed correctly, they can actually help to create a positive impression among your existing and potential customers.

When your property does receive the unfortunate negative online review it doesn’t mean that your property and service is actually terrible. The truth for any business is that no matter how great your business is, not all customers are going to leave happy. While you can’t prevent all bad reviews, you can have a game-plan for when it does happen.

Negative reviews can be a blessing in disguise

It’s only natural to be upset and defensive when a customer leaves a negative review, but these feelings are misguided. Here are two reasons why negative reviews can actually help your business:

1.) They legitimize your review pages.

A mix of negative and positive reviews shows customers that your online reviews are genuine. If a review page only has very positive reviews then consumers reading those reviews will become a bit suspicious about whether the page is genuine or not. Research has shown that customers will trust reviews more if they see both positive and negative reviews. After all, no one is perfect.

2.) They bring to light valuable feedback.

Negative reviews can uncover real problems and challenges that your property may be facing. This valuable feedback can not only help you improve your systems and processes but can also give you guidance to make simple changes that can improve your business’s overall guest experience. Also, responding appropriately to negative feedback from a guest could be the key to that guest coming back in the future.

The way you respond to negative reviews both online and in action at your property can have major consequences on your bottom line. All reviews, positive or negative, have an important place in your online reputation. The key is to effectively respond to the feedback and use it to grow your business.

Why you should respond to negative reviews

Potential future guests are looking at your property’s review pages. Research shows that 92% of consumers check online ratings and reviews before making any buying decision. This is truer in the hotel and travel industry than any other industry. 40% of consumers will form an impression of your hotels’ reputation based on those reviews.

It’s critical that potential customers who are reading your property’s online reviews gain the impression you want them to have. Customer perception is shaped by how well your business responds to negative reviews. The way you publicly respond to negative reviews shows potential customers what kind of service they will receive if they choose to stay with you. Potential customers understand that sometimes people have a negative experience at a business, but what is most telling is how that business handled that negative experience. Customers want to know that they will be treated respectfully if they choose to stay at your property.

I received a negative review: what do I do?

It’s important to take a deep breath and not let the initial emotional response you may be feeling come across online in your response. Respond to negative reviews tactfully to turn the customer’s negative experience into a positive one. Don’t be overly defensive, keep the conversation going. Make sure that you follow up with the customer until the customer’s issue has been resolved. Once the problem has been solved, you can politely ask the customer to edit the review or delete it altogether.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to respond to a negative review:

Be sympathetic and apologize. While dealing with an upset customer, take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Whether or not it’s your fault, a polite apology can help retain the customer. The words “I’m sorry” are very powerful not only in your personal relationships with friends and family, but, believe it or not, in business as well. Even if you aren’t completely to blame, offering a sincere apology has the power to defuse a situation, sometimes even instantaneously. By apologizing, you show your guest (and potential new guests) that you hear them and acknowledge their concerns. You make it clear that you are willing to provide fantastic service for all of your guests.

Provide a solution. In addition to apologizing, offering real solutions to the problem is key. The solution should show that you’ve put an effort into the response and aren’t just posting a canned response. The solution should show genuine concern and thoughtfulness. 

Offer to take the conversation offline. If a customer is very angry it may be wise to offer to speak to them offline. Explain that this will help you ensure that the problem is resolved quickly. Don’t be afraid to provide them with your direct contact information in a private message.

Say “thank you.” Show that you appreciate their time and feedback. Be sympathetic to their concerns and thank them for leaving feedback that will help you build a stronger business.

Get more positive reviews. Responding to negative reviews is very important, but it is equally important to minimize the impact of negative publicity.  It is important to get more positive feedback coming in for your property. Email or text review requests to your customers. Studies show that 70% of customers will leave a review when asked. WebRezPro with BlueJay Reviews integration can help you automate this process when guests check out.

Stay on top of your reviews with BlueJay Reviews

Staying on top of customer feedback is hard. The BlueJay Reviews platform can help. With BlueJay you can maintain a steady stream of fresh reviews, manage feedback, respond to reviews immediately (even automatically) and share positive reviews on your social media pages plus more. To learn more about the WebRezPro integrated review management program with BlueJay Reviews please visit:

Best Practices for Managing Your Online Hotel Reviews

Most lodging operators agree that hotel reviews play an important part in turning lookers into bookers — and there’s plenty of research to support that. A recent TripAdvisor® study revealed that more than half of travelers don’t want to book a hotel until they have read reviews, and 80 percent of travelers read at least six to 12 reviews before making a decision.

An even more recent survey by market research company GfK for the UK government’s Competition & Markets Authority shows that 54 percent of adults used online reviews to get product or service information. If you take the less-digitally-engaged over-55 age group out of the equation, that number is 61 percent. The survey also showed that consumers are most influenced by reviews in the travel and hotels sector, when it comes to making a purchase.

It’s clear that online reviews are an important part of the decision-making process for travelers choosing accommodation and, therefore, lodging operators should be accumulating reviews and making them readily available to travelers online.

Because lodging operators are extremely busy people, we’ve put together a quick guide to the best practices for managing online reviews.

1. ASK guests for online reviews

Amassing reviews is not only great for boosting online visibility, but TripAdvisor says that the quantity and frequency of your TripAdvisor reviews influences your TripAdvisor Popularity Index ranking — in part because the more reviews your property has, the more the good reviews will outweigh the bad.

Whether your front desk staff invite guests to review your property upon check-out, or post-stay surveys are emailed to guests, every single guest should be asked to share feedback about their stay. Be genuine, not pushy, with a simple request like, “We hope you enjoyed your stay with us and welcome you to share your experience by completing this short survey / reviewing us on TripAdvisor. Your feedback is much appreciated!”

TripAdvisor’s Review Express — a free review collection tool for all types of properties — apparently boosts a hotel’s review volume on TripAdvisor by an average of 33 percent. Other automated solutions include guest relationship management systems like Cendyn and Revinate that integrate with property management systems to power targeted guest communications, including customized post-stay surveys that can be submitted directly to TripAdvisor. Revinate found that participating properties increased review volume by an average of 409% and saw an average 15% increase in TripAdvisor popularity ranking in just three months.

For more tips on getting online reviews, check out our post that focuses on just that.

2. MONITOR review sites

Monitoring online reviews and social media mentions is fundamental to managing your online reputation, giving you the chance to make good with dissatisfied customers and, therefore, improving your rating on review sites and OTAs.

You can check in with the most influential review sites and your social media accounts manually on a regular basis, but employing a social listening tool like Google Alerts or Hootsuite, or an online reputation management system like Revinate, will save you a lot of time and ensure you don’t miss a word of what people are saying about your property.

3. RESPOND appropriately 

According to TripAdvisor, 87 percent of TripAdvisor users agree that an appropriate management response to a negative review improves their impression of the property, and 62 percent agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally “makes me more likely to book it (versus a comparable hotel that didn’t respond to travelers).”

The message is clear: properties that respond to reviews engage travelers more than properties that don’t. Management responses provide the opportunity to recover unhappy guests and your reputation as well as show travelers that you care about your guests.

The trick is responding to negative reviews in the right way; 70 percent of TripAdvisor users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review makes them less likely to book that hotel. Accept feedback graciously. For some guidance, check out our post on how to handle negative reviews. Most reviews contain a mix of positive and negative comments and Revinate’s Positive “Sandwich” Formula is a great method for responding to those.

4. ACT on feedback

A sure-fire way to increase positive reviews is to listen to your guests. What complaints keep coming up? Analyse constructive criticism and make improvements where warranted.

Making hoteliers’ lives easier, online reputation management software provides a complete view of guest feedback through reporting and data analysis of private surveys, online reviews and social media mentions to help identify consistent issues and improve service and operations.

In summary, hotels should enthusiastically encourage public, online reviews because most travelers won’t book a stay without reading them. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback going public; guests are just as inclined to write reviews about great experiences as they are about the not so great. Ultimately, your property’s reputation depends on how you deal with a negative comment, rather than the comment itself.

Once those reviews are coming in, you can help spread the word of your guests by including a TripAdvisor widget on your website, and by sharing positive reviews on social media. Be transparent and watch your occupancy soar!