A recent guest had a complaint about your vacation rental, and despite your best attempts at resolution, they’ve left you a negative review.
Now it’s sitting right at the top of your reviews and you haven’t had a booking for two weeks. How do you undo the damage of a scathing 1-star review?
First things first, take a breath. The damage can be fixed – with the right next steps.
Almost everyone gets a negative review from time to time, so it’s important not to see the negative review as a personal attack. It’s simply as one of the trials and tribulations of running a business. It’s not a fun part of vacation rental, but it is very manageable.
Here’s what smart owners do to get their listing back on track after a 1-star review.
Objectively Assess the Review
It can be easy to dismiss any bad review as invalid. You’ve put a lot of your time and effort into this vacation rental, and you know it isn’t the terrible property the reviewer has made it out to be. So why should you take the review seriously?
Bad reviews are sometimes just a way for the guest to blow off steam. More often than not, though, there’s a grain of truth hidden in the angry rant.
In the midst of saying your property was the worst they’ve ever stayed in, did the guest say there was a “weird” smell in the living room? Or that the bed was uncomfortable?
Have these problems been mentioned in passing in your positive reviews? For example: “We loved the property. There was a slight musty smell in the living room, but it really wasn’t a big deal.” “Amazing location! The bed was a bit more firm than we’d like, but great place overall.”
If the negative review mentions any objective problem with the property that bears investigating, see if you can remedy the issue – especially if that problem has been mentioned before. Even if previous happy guests didn’t think it was a big deal, this is a good excuse to improve your property and reassure future guests.
Which is your next step.
Plan Out Your Response
A well thought-out response can go a long way toward undoing the damage of a negative review, even if you have no hope of reconciling matters with the complainant.
Many owners don’t bother to respond to negative reviews when they feel the guest is being unreasonable, or when they don’t believe they can get the reviewer to change their mind about the property.
What they forget is that your response isn’t for the 1-star reviewer.
It’s for all your future renters.
You’ve already lost your 1-star reviewer as a future guest, so let’s take them out of the picture. Instead, focus on your less biased – and far bigger – audience of potential future guests.
Keep your tone friendly, pleasant, and professional. While it can be tempting to try to take a bad reviewer down a peg, it’s far better to present yourself as the reasonable, cool-headed party in this encounter. Thank the guest for their review, acknowledge and apologize for the pain points, calmly explain your perspective, and declare yourself available to discuss or resolve the matter further at their convenience.
Highlight the actionable steps you’ve taken to fix the problem. This includes any changes you made to the property itself, as well as any restitution you made to the guest directly. This is your chance to reassure future renters they won’t be running into the same problem – which goes a long way toward negating the review.
Be thorough in your response. Beyond the facts of how you resolved the situation, it’s a good idea to make your general philosophy as an owner clear to future guests. “I want all my guests to enjoy their stay,” or “I take issues like this seriously” tells future guests that problems like this aren’t acceptable to you, and that you care that your guests are happy.
Handling the situation tactfully and creating a solid response helps future guests to look beyond that first 1-star review. After seeing your reasonable response, they’re more likely to scroll down and check out the next review – maybe the first one was a fluke, after all.
Without a response, they might click away from your listing right away. With one, your potential guest is likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Think About Your Nightly Rates
It’s time to face the facts: that negative 1-star review isn’t going anywhere.
Which means you may have to make some adjustments until it’s been ousted from the top of your list of reviews. The 1-star review isn’t likely to cause a huge dent in your star rating if it’s your first in some time, but its position at the top of your recent reviews will affect you.
The good news is that your next positive review is just one booking away.
If you have new guests coming in next week, this fix is simple: make sure they have an amazing stay, and ask them to please leave you a review.
If you don’t have new guests coming anytime soon, or had the bad luck to get a 1-star review as your second review ever, it’s time to consider dropping your prices temporarily.
Reviews and ratings deeply influence whether future guests choose to book, and you can’t get new reviews without new bookings.
As we’ve covered before, the best way to get new bookings in a competitive market is to lower your rates. Travelers browsing the listing sites will still see your negative review and low star rating – but they’ll also see your thoughtful response and your more-than-reasonable rate.
Your property might still feel like a bit of a risk to your potential guest, but it’s looking like a very good one. Nice, friendly owner who fixed the problem + beautiful property + great price = an absolute steal.
Knocking 10% off of your nightly rate will give you the opportunity to make some new bookings and ask for positive reviews.
Once you’ve gotten a few 5-star reviews from your recent guests, you’ll have the star power to put your rates right back up where you want them.
Bad Reviews Aren’t the End of the Line
It can be hard to dig out of the ratings hole, but it’s far from impossible. Raise the bar for your property’s standards, react with your future guests in mind, and give your future renters a bit of a financial incentive to take a chance on your recently-maligned property.
Soon that 1-star review – and the complaint that caused it – will be a distant memory.
Making every guest happy is a full-time job – but Evolve makes it easy for owners to deliver an amazing vacation rental experience without the time investment. Find out how we help owners earn more income with less hassle here.