Managing Bad Reviews Of Your Holiday Home Online
Managing bad reviews of your holiday home can seem like a daunting task. This short guide is here to help you turn a problem into an advantage.
With review sites like Tripadviser and vrbo and social media covering multiple platforms, we all know the power of publicity, good ratings and good reviews online in generating custom and ensuring repeat custom. By the same token, negative feedback on review sites can feel like a very difficult thing to handle as we all know how much we use reviews to make our own choices of holiday destination and accommodation.
Having put so much effort into the enjoyment of your guests your focus is obviously to generate enthusiastic, positive feedback and return custom. Good reviews are relatively easy to deal with of course, but managing a bad review well can say a lot about you. Sometimes, bad reviews can be turned into an opportunity to tell people more than the space on your advertisement allows and so to sell your great holiday home again.
First find the reviews of your holiday home
With the plethora of websites on which people can leave reviews, from your own, your letting agencies’ websites to social media, the opportunities for your guests to give their feedback are many and varied. This is one very good reason to try and give your holiday home an original name. Google searches are much easier then and so is setting up an alert or report back on Google, Twitter or elsewhere.
Identify how you can improve the holiday experience
This is the most important opportunity presented by any complaint or negative feedback. Some complaints, it is true, will be because of elevated expectations of the holiday and your accommodation in the first place and no fault of yours. (Although you may want to look at your marketing.) However, do look for the lessons to be learned and try to fix anything that can be fixed. Your future guests will be less likely to ever make the same complaint. They may even do you the favour of contributing their own positive feedback to the same thread or site where the original bad review was left.
Do take bad reviews seriously…
Most people don’t bother going online to complain or to leave a bad review for anything that they think is trivial. Thanking a guest for pointing something out that you had overlooked and offering a discounted stay or even a refund online is important. It can really reassure other customers that they are likely to receive a genuine service and be listened to should any issues arise during their stay.
Try and respond in less than an hour, or at least on the same day, or immediately the next morning. Complaints tend to get more outrageously worded or actually exaggerated if the purpose now is to attract your attention.
But don’t take them too seriously…
Everyone understands now that online communication can be tricky and people have a tendency sometimes towards exaggeration and hyperbole. Don’t panic that everyone is going to immediately believe everything a disgruntled guest has written. Aim to keep your tone considerate but good-natured, even in the face of less tempered language.
Keep it simple and quick
Your aim with some complaints is often going to be to move any extended conversation about the complaint on to your own website, where you have more control or to email or telephone as quickly as you can. The trick is to do this without being dismissive or rude.
Although brevity is your friend, avoid ways of saying things that inadvertently make you look like you don’t care. Stock answers and often repeated phrases will be visible to everyone and can be read as cynical attempts to simply manage or ‘field’ genuine concerns.
Don’t take bad holiday home reviews personally…
Some of what people will say can be genuinely unfair or simply untrue. It is important to not let any personal disappointment at this cloud your judgement. You can disagree without being unsympathetic.
No one wants to have a bad time on holiday for any reason, and if you can do something to improve things or to compensate them if necessary then you will. Asking for an email if they want to give you a more detailed account of their complaint, which you will need in order to solve any issues, can usefully move things out of the public realm.
But do be personable…
Address the person as respectfully as you can. As much as possible, use their name and ‘I’ (as opposed to ‘we’) when you refer to yourself, even if it’s on behalf of your company. Let your guest know that you are personally invested in addressing their complaint. A personal feel to your response may go a long way to moderating the language of the bad review and may make a resolution much easier.
Don’t be drawn into a public row
If a criticism is particularly unfair in your eyes, you may want to indicate that you are sorry for their disappointment and that you want to be able to treat any valid criticisms as lessons to be learned about where there is room for improvement. Even if the criticism is meant to provoke you, make your response to the most impolite complaint an offer of further correspondence to sort out any problems off line.
Retain a positive attitude with goodwill gestures
Try not to come across as defensive or too keen to win an argument. If a guest has experienced something which is not your fault, you may still want to publicly offer a discount on another stay. It is not a refund, which looks like an admittance but rather a sign of your good will and trustworthiness.
Similarly, when you do come to an amicable resolution after a bad review, try to encourage the original reviewer to update their review as quickly as possible. If you have resolved things by email or phone or on another site, perhaps you can return to the original post and add a comment. This could be to the effect that you are pleased to have been made aware of the issue so that you could fix it quickly.
Know what you are responsible for
Very occasionally, you may need to simply defend yourself.
Keep good records of maintenance, arrivals and departures, photographic evidence of the state of the rooms and keep your emails and other correspondences, including any pre-booking interaction, including your publicity and marketing.
Test the response to the review on a friend
Finally, if you do decide to respond to a bad review online, remember that it is sometimes difficult to be fully aware your own tone. Tone is notoriously hard to control in text and so online. What seems good humoured to you when you read it back might sound sarcastic to another. What appears generous to you could be cynical and patronising to everyone else. Whenever possible, to avoid creating this kind of misunderstanding, get someone you trust to read what you are going to post or send, particularly when you are at all unsure what to say.
We hope that you have found this article helpful. Don’t be daunted by managing bad reviews of your holiday home online. By staying calm and following these steps, it should make the whole process easier.
This is a marketing article from My Holiday Home Insurance, a specialist provider of insurance for holiday homes, leisure homes, holiday lodges and static caravans. Our team of experienced advisers are always happy to help, so for more information call our Northampton office on freephone 0800 988 0890.