Handling Negative Feedback from Hotel Guests

In today’s digital world, your online presence and reputation decide the success of your business. And this is why maintaining a strong online reputation is a constant endeavor for every business. This is especially true for businesses in the customer-facing hospitality industry.

In this post, we tell you why online reviews are important and why you should answer to each one of the online reviews, whether positive or negative. We also show you how to deal with sensitive issues in order to turn a negative review into a positive opportunity.

Why online reviews are important
Reviews are an important source of information for travelers booking accommodation. PwC in its report, Online reputations – Why hotel reviews matter, identifies the importance of online reviews and remarks, “Even if customers do not book their travel online, most of them will at least read review sites before making a booking decision. The increasing use of mobile devices for making travel bookings further enhances the importance of online reviews for travel decisions. Customers trust reviews by other travelers more than they do official business communication because they assume that the reviews are independent.”

In addition to the above, reviews are also important for you as a hotelier or an accommodation provider. These give you useful insights into how well you are perceived and what your guests expect. You can then use this information to identify gaps in your service offerings and take remedial actions to fill in those gaps to ensure better customer satisfaction.

To know how you can check your hotel’s reviews and reputation score online, click here.

Why you should respond
There are primarily two reasons why a guest writes a review. One, he is extremely satisfied and happy with his stay and wants to praise you; or two, he is not at all pleased with the experience and wants to complain. Either case gives you a golden opportunity to show your current and potential guests that you care and hence, improve guest loyalty.

Whenever you receive a negative review, consider it an opportunity to assess the gap between your services and guests’ expectations. Also, use this opportunity to demonstrate that you care for your guests’ opinions and you’re willing to improve.

Always remember that your answer to feedback won’t be only visible to the person who wrote the review, but to all the travelers who might be in search for their next ideal hotel.

According to SiteMinder, “85% of guests agree that a thoughtful response to a review will improve their impression of the hotel.” So, whether it’s a review from a delightful or a disappointed guest, make sure that you reply to it in the best possible manner.

Good reputation management involves monitoring what people are saying about your business, intently listening to your guests’ demands and expectations, and positively reacting to their feedback. Needless to say, this should, later on, translate into accordingly sustaining or improving customer service and quality of your products and services.

How you should handle negative feedback
As discussed above, every negative feedback can be your chance to win more repeat as well as new bookings. This is because the review and your response will be visible to a large pool of your customer base and you can make sure to turn it into your advantage by being thoughtful. And, here’s how you can handle negative feedback in a positive way:

Needless to say, whenever you receive a negative review, the first step is to apologize to the guest. Sound empathetic and genuinely regretful for the unpleasant experience or stay they had to go through. Appreciate that he/she is taking time to bring the incident to your attention. Personalizing your apology to the particular user and the particular situation is also a good idea. After all, your consideration and thoughtfulness will make your brand come across as trustworthy.

After apologizing, try clarifying why the said incident happened, without giving excuses for it, that is, accept your mistake. If you don’t understand the situation fully, ask for more details so that you can investigate further into the matter. Also, propose a solution to it. By doing so, you show that you appreciate and ensure quality customer service and that you take the feedback seriously.

Your answer should show your commitment to improving. This is one of the ways to tell that you genuinely care for your guests and the particular incident is a one-off mistake that you are ready to rectify. Your reply should describe the steps you plan to take to fix the problem, like provide better guest experience, train your staff, improve your room quality, etc. Additionally, commitment to actually improve and implement amends, later on, will make you better and your guests happier.

You don’t always need to compensate a guest but if the complaint seems genuine and you want to pacify a serious complainer, one of the ways is to offer coupons or discounts to him/her on the next visit. However, you should refrain from doing so online on a public channel so that other guests don’t start complaining as well. If you really want to compensate to the guest, ask for their contact details, like their Email ID, or ask them to send you a private message.

In short, the response to negative feedback should be swift, empathetic, and should define all the actionable steps you plan to take to correct the error and ensure improved guest satisfaction in the future. These above steps will make your business come across as a trustful, serious, and responsible entity. Remember – receiving negative feedback is normal; what’s important is how you deal with it and eventually, improve.

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