It is no news that potential guests look at the reviews before making a booking on Airbnb nowadays. According to Zendesk, 88 percent of the potential customers are getting influenced by reviews, which means that you should do everything you can to get those 5-star reviews.
MadeComfy recently wrote a blog about how you can make your guests’ stay more enjoyable which likely results in a good review. (5 Styling Tips To Create Character And Personality In Your Home) But what should you do when you get a negative review?
While sometimes bad reviews come unexpectedly, most of times you can guess who is going to leave a bad review. For example, a traveller who tends to ask a lot of detailed questions from the outset can be often someone who cares a lot about details and therefore could also be difficult to please; our advice is therefore to spend a bit more time and care with these type of guests to make sure everything is okay with their stay.
You don’t want to be too pushy, but you can ask in the middle of their stay if everything is okay and if there is anything you can do to make their stay more enjoyable.
The good thing about Airbnb’s review system is that reviews aren’t published immediately. Airbnb gives hosts and guests two weeks to write your side of the story, and you can decide if you want to write a review or not. If you or the guest haven’t written a review, the review is pending for two weeks. This gives you a great opportunity to get new reviews in the meantime, so once the negative review is published after two weeks it already looks outdated.
Airbnb gives hosts an opportunity to leave a reply once the review is published, so your future guests can see your side of the story. Our advice is not to respond bad reviews with criticism but focus on the improvements you could have made. If someone wrote a bad review because the boiler or TV stopped working, you could respond with an example like the following:
‘’I am sorry your stay wasn’t good as expected. I am doing everything I can to make it as comfortable as possible for my guests. That’s why I asked you during your stay if there was anything I can do to improve anything. Unfortunately, the boiler stopped working, and due to the fact the repairman couldn’t fix it during the time of your stay, it caused inconvenience to you. This is of course quite an uncommon issue, but the boiler is fixed now so we would love to welcome you again!’’
Don’t use the same text every time of course. Otherwise, people start noticing you’re just copying/pasting. Try to be creative while writing your side of the story.
If you do decide to write your side of the story, keep in mind that you want to be seen mature, so the writer of the bad review is seen as picky and unreasonable. Explain your side of the story clearly yet don’t make it too long. If you can, use some humour so potential guests can see you’re flexible and easy going. Remember; never criticise the bad review, this doesn’t make you look good and will likely scare other guests off.
Experts in the field also provided us with some extra tips:
‘’ There are two incredibly important things you need to remember when responding to negative reviews. First, when you initially see the review, take a deep breath and do not respond. You don't want to let your emotions take over and say something you might regret later. Second, respond in a thoughtful and polite way that tries to resolve the issue (no matter what). Their negative review is public, and so is your response. You want people to see that you aren't passing the blame or ignoring your clients/customers but that you actually care about each of their experiences.’’ –Dan Scalco from Digitalux
‘’This is my process whenever I get a negative review from a guest: reflect, be positive, and own it. First, I'd always take a moment to reflect on the validity of the review if it's true before I write a public response. Then, I'd want to acknowledge the positive attributes of the guests. Finally, I'd own up to my mistakes if it indeed was true. The absolute worst thing to do is for you to deny, defend, and attack the guest!’’ - Sam Zuo from Passive Airbnb
Airbnb reviews cannot be removed easily (which is a good thing). You can however request Airbnb to remove reviews if it meets the following criteria:
- Guests threatening to use reviews or rating in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds, additional compensation, or a reciprocal positive review.
- Host asking a guest to take specific actions related to a review in exchange for a resolution to a dispute between the parties.
- Host requiring a guest to leave a positive review or rating, or to revise a review in exchange for a partial or full refund, or reciprocal review. The host also can’t offer a free or discount stay in exchange for a guest revising nan excising review.
- Reviews incentivized by a promise for payment, additional services, or a discount rate.
- Reviews that do not represent the author’s personal experience or that of their travel companions.
- Reviews motivated by a threat of extortion.
‘’The most important thing to understand about your response to a negative review is that it is less about the reviewer and more about the audience. Of course we want the reviewer to be happy, but if they are being unreasonable and we can’t reasonably expect to make them happy, it doesn’t give us license to be rude, call their character into question, or to get defensive.
Those who read the review and our response to it are going to be imagining themselves in the same situation. If our response is cordial and helpful even when the reviewer is being unreasonable, the reader can expect to be treated the same way by us." -Pratik Dholakiya from E2M
To summarise, make sure you are doing everything you can so that your guests can have a pleasant stay and as a result they leave you good reviews. Ask them how everything is going and if there is anything you as a host can do to make their stay more enjoyable. In case a bad review does occur, don’t panic. Think if the review is justly written and respond where necessary in a pragmatic way so future guests can see you’re not defensive and improving upon reviews.
Does the bad review violate the criteria set by Airbnb? Then it’s likely to be removed after you report it.