How to Handle Negative Reviews: 10 Tips for Rental Managers

With the surge in online research and bookings, reviews have become a major selling point for online travel agencies (OTAs). However, with the perks managers receive from positive reviews also comes the impact from negative reviews. If not managed correctly, negative reviews can cost OTAs thousands of dollars per review and have damaging effects on long-term business. But what can you do? Relax. We’ve rounded up 10 tips to help vacation rental managers respond to negative reviews.

Steps to Respond to Negative Reviews for Rental Managers

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Immediately After Reading the Review

Take a Break, Breathe

A negative review can seem like the end of the world, but it’s not. As with any confrontation, the first step is to take a deep breath and walk away. Relax. Have a cup of coffee or tea. Take a walk. Try anything that will prevent immediate reaction. Keep in mind the response will be online for the world to see, so it may be best to wait 24 hours before taking action.

Hear Them Out

Those who write negative reviews need to feel like they’ve been heard. They may or may not be right or wrong. It doesn’t matter. While reading, ask yourself: What are they really saying? What are they trying to accomplish with this review? Once those questions are answered, a professional response will come easier.

Get the Facts

Next, gather all the facts. Especially when it concerns a third-party, such as maintenance, cleaning, repairs, etc. Research the claim and talk to everyone involved, including the guest.

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Before You Write a Response


Once all the info is gathered and the adrenaline calms down, reflect on the situation. Do they have valid reason for complaint, or are they trying to be malicious? Online reviewers know the power they have over businesses, so take time to think before responding. Those who still feel on edge should consider first venting in a Word doc that no one else will see.

Take Your Time

Start responding by noting some key points in a notepad or text document. Create a short outline of the problem, situation and solutions. This will help keep the response organized and on target.

Keep It Short

Studies show the average attention span is around 8 seconds; some studies show less. Keep the response concise and short. Online users will not read a book, and this keeps managers from rambling. Focus on the most important details and solutions. Writing too much also may make others think you’re unable to manage the situation.

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While Writing the Response

Say Thank You

First, thank them for taking the time to write a review. Let them know you work to achieve higher reviews, and their opinion will help you improve vacation rental management process. This appeals to them and all future rental guests.

State What You Did

Next, focus on the positive and what really happened. Remind the guest of any communication, offered compensation and solutions. Be polite and courteous.

Don’t Argue, Blame

Regardless of what happened, focus on what you did to solve the claim without blaming or placing fault. Online harassment is a real issue, and placing blame will come off as unprofessional and immature.

Bonus: Ask to Remove

Once a response has been posted, ask the reviewer to remove the negative review. They may not, and that’s OK. It never hurts to ask.

Need more tips? Check out these guest experience ideas for vacation rental managers.