How to Deal with Reviews on Your Holiday Home

Let’s face it, in this day of everything getting reviews, from kettles to corporate companies or even your local newsagents – everyone gets worried about receiving a negative review.

So, what can you do to avoid it, and if you are unlucky enough to receive one, how should you deal with it?

We truly believe that if you appear friendly with people and act helpfully to their needs, it goes a really long way in helping relations!

There are other things you can do as well to improve relations which in turn may help prevent any negativity.  Do extra things to show guests you’ve been thoughtful and care that they have a good time.  They’ve saved up their hard-earned pennies on having a holiday in your property.  And not only that, they have also used up valuable holiday leave.  Most people only get around 4 weeks a year, so that week they’ve used in your property is extremely valuable – show them you appreciate the fact that they’ve chosen to spend their time in your house!

Make sure your home is clean and sparkly, there is a welcome pack of essentials and there are little touches around the house that make them feel special.  Give them great ideas for days out, provide an OS map and local walking and restaurant guides.  List all the things that prove popular in the area.  Encourage guests to get out and about and explore the area – it’s more likely to make them want to return!  Make sure all the contact you have with guests, before, during and after their stay, is super friendly and welcoming, not heavy-handed and authoritative!

Managing Negativity

All these genuinely helpful things will go a long way to helping when it comes to reviews.

However, occasionally you may encounter a negative review and it’s absolutely crucial that you deal with them in a totally clear-headed, sensible manner – especially as potentially all of your future guests are listening!

An experience we once had

We received one not so long ago. Our guest had rated our property with 5 stars and had thoroughly enjoyed her stay.  However, she recommended to other guests that they went prepared to eat out every day because the kitchen was cold!  She had added that it was a lovely area to eat out in and that was what holidays were all about, but of course, this needed a response because people don’t want a kitchen they can’t cook in!  Her phrasing had made it seem as though the cottage was cold when in fact it is quite the opposite; it is a small cottage and gets exceptionally warm but if you don’t leave the door to the kitchen open, the warm air doesn’t flow through.  A heater had never been installed in the kitchen for the reason that it’s so small and we’ve not had a problem with it before as we always leave the door open.  In five years, no one had ever mentioned it, so we presumed all was okay.

She hadn’t meant the review to be negative, simply informative – but to anyone else reading it, they may have viewed it differently.

How to Respond

But how to deal with it?  Reply to her review that no one in 5 years had ever complained?  No!  The art is in accepting someone’s viewpoint and counter-acting it in a sensible, friendly way.  In this particular instance, we thanked her so much for her review (as she had genuinely loved the cottage) and acknowledged her positive statement that she had a lovely stay.  We thanked her for bringing the matter of the kitchen to our attention and said that the rest of the cottage is so toasty but the kitchen is the one place without a heater due to the size. We mentioned that we generally keep the lounge door to the kitchen open to let the warm air flow through and that it does the trick throughout the majority of the year.  However, we had taken the comment on board and were organising a kick-space heater for the kitchen and a rug for the floor as the tiles were admittedly a little cold for bare feet in the winter!  So, after stating that we were going to fix her concerns, we ended on another positive statement that most people enjoyed cooking in the kitchen as it’s very cute and very well-equipped, and expressed sincere hope she revisited to enjoy the benefit of it!

Take a Deep Breath

So all in all, a personable and friendly response to a genuine review.  Of course, you’re not always going to be in a position to be able to change certain aspects of the property – and it really does depend on what the guest has said.  But you really do need to take a huge, deep breath and be REALLY careful what you say in your reply.  The chances are, the person who wrote it won’t even read your response – it’s all your future guests who will!  So you have to be sympathetic, show you’ve listened, highlight some major positives about your property and why you love staying there – anything that can counteract any negatives.  Be positive, be friendly, be calm!

Encourage Past Guests to Review You

And if you feel, even after a very carefully worded reply, that the review may have a negative impact on bookings, consider going through your list of people who have stayed previously and if you know they had a good time ask them if they’d mind writing you a review.  Very often people will write nice things in your guest book or even email you afterwards to let you know they’ve had a good time – but may not necessarily get down to writing you a review unless you ask them.  You could be really honest with them and say that you’re worried because someone has written a negative review and you desperately need their help.  If they’ve had a great holiday, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help!  Each new review you get pushes the last one further down the list.

And relax!  Most people will take the odd bad review with a pinch of salt – if you have 17 five star reviews and one 3 star, the likelihood is that people will accept that there was a difference of opinion in one case.  Or that that particular reviewer may have been having just a particularly grouchy day … 🙂

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