How to deal with a bad Airbnb review

Whether you like it or not, at some point you’re likely going to get a less than perfect review on Airbnb.

What most people don’t know though, is that how you handle that bad review is actually more likely to affect your profile than the review itself.

A snotty 1-star review sitting on your profile isn’t exactly the most appealing thing, but lucky for you, most people are curious (and nosey) enough to see if there was any further drama in the response.

It’s also not the end of the world. In fact, although review scores can help you increase your bookings, they are not the only factor.

For more information about the importance of reviews in terms of quantity and quality, why not check out our blog post on why reviews are crucial for increasing vacation rental occupancy rates & revenue.

If potential guests see that you’ve handled the situation in a way that Oprah Winfrey would be proud of, then you’re probably not going to see a reduction in bookings because of it.

So, remain calm and keep the following things in mind:

1. Respond publicly

Luckily (or unluckily depending on if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person) all reviews that are submitted through the Airbnb system are 100% public and 99% permanent.

There are some special occasions where reviews may be removed if they break Airbnb’s content policy, but proving that the review has broken the content policy is almost impossible.

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While this does mean that, you probably won’t get that petty review about your choice of curtains removed, it also means that you’re publicly able to reply to any of these negative comments and give your side of the story.

This doesn’t mean you should start blaming your guest, but you can do any of the following:

  • Highlight if the negative remarks in the review had already been discussed and resolved in a way that means they shouldn’t still be marking you down for them.

  • Explain your situation, in the same way, you explained it to your guest so that people can see your side of the story.

  • Apologise and let any future guests know that the situation was a one-off blip that won’t happen again.

  • Detail any steps you’re taking to ensure what went wrong won’t happen again.

2. Acknowledge and grow

If you look hard enough, hidden in the negativity of a bad review can actually be some really helpful and constructive points.

You can always try to make the best of a bad situation, and a guest’s negative experience can be seen as a checklist for improvement.

Didn’t like your bedding? No worries! Maybe it’s time to get a new set? Couldn’t figure out how to work the oven? No problem! Now you know to leave out instructions.

Whatever they have to say, acknowledge it, apologise if an apology is needed (and even if it isn’t you probably still should), and grow from it.

At the end of the day, it’s the guests that are experiencing your hosting, not you, and if they think something needs improving, there’s a good chance that it does!

3. Counter-review

Reviews are a two-way street, and if you’ve had trouble with a guest that is likely to leave their negativity all over your profile, then you’re welcome to do the same!

If a guest has broken your house rules or caused you problems, you should leave them a review with all that information detailed to help and inform other hosts about the guest.

4. Practice prevention

The best way to avoid having to deal with negative reviews is just not to receive them in the first place! Of course, this is actually impossible.

There will always be those people that mark you down for what seems like no reason at all.

We call them 4-star people. You could give them the perfect service, and they could even write in their review that it was perfect, and yet that all-important fifth star is still out of reach.

Before you know it you’ve got a 4-star review, a decreased rating, no suggestions for improvement, and a few sleepless nights of you thinking ‘What else could I possibly have done?’

At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone and no matter what you do, you are probably still going to come up against a few negative comments.

All you can do is your absolute best to prevent them from being focused on things that are under your control:

  • Keep your place clean

  • Keep communication easy and open

  • Provide as much information as possible

  • Screen your guests before accepting stays by checking their review history (if they’ve given or received negative reviews, maybe pass on them staying at your place)
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5. The customer is always right

That’s right. Even when the guest is being tiresome, don’t ever tell them that they’re in the wrong!

It’s easy to forget the business implications that surround short letting.

When you’re in the property with your guests, it can feel like you’re just giving a friend a bed for the night rather than providing someone with paid accommodation, which is what you’re doing.

Remember that every guest you have is a customer, and you should do everything you can to keep them onside.

If something more negative does happen, even if you’re not at fault, respond immediately and do all you can do to find a resolution that works for both of you.

6. Communication is key

In most cases, you’ll find that bad reviews stem from a lack of communication between yourself and your guest.

This could be because you’re not available to handle their queries or because of something as simple as forgetting to explain the trick to get the shower working.

If you come into contact with this kind of situation, you can probably fix it before it becomes a real problem – you’ll be surprised how many negative reviews are down to a simple misunderstanding!

Do whatever you can to keep a line of communication open between you and your guest.

If you’re going to be unreachable for whatever reason, ensure you have explained your situation to your guest and given them an alternative contact, like a management agency or a friendly neighbour.

If you are around and you see things are starting to take a bad turn, do your best to react quickly and talk it out!

If you suspect a guest has ‘turned’, it is never too late to try and put things right.

If they give you a bad review, apologise and if you have an explanation, give it with grace. Being aggressive or defensive in your response will put future guests off.

Creating a house manual is a great way to ensure your guest knows about the quirks of your property to avoid any lapse in communication in that area.

A Solution

We believe a positive host/guest experience starts with trust and creating an environment that both parties feel comfortable in.

Get these things nailed down and you’re likely to deal with fewer negative reviews.

That being said, we also know that putting your home in the hands of a stranger can be nerve-racking, even if you’ve been doing it for a while.

Speak to us today!

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