Reputation Defenders

How to respond to bad Airbnb reviews?

How to respond to bad Airbnb reviews?
Maria Martin

9 min


How to respond to bad Airbnb reviews?

Should bad Airbnb reviews always be considered a bad thing?

Knowing how to react when someone writes a negative review for your business online is hard.

Many homeowners who own rental properties are appalled at having negative reviews posted online.

If you get any negative feedback, at least be honest about it. Don't hide construction crews from visitors or leave the house a sloppy mess after new people move in.

On the one hand, some negative reviews may be unfair.

You might get someone who complains excessively or negatively about something clearly described in the description or should have been well-known before they booked.

A bad review isn't necessarily bad news, but it could be.

It depends on how well you handle it.

If the negative review has some merit, then the key elements of responding to a negative review should be:

  • Remain calm and collected.
  • Acknowledge the issue.
  • Show sympathy and understanding.
  • Provide an explanation.
  • Move forward with a solution.

However, vacation rental hosts always make some effort to ensure their properties look good for guests. They may spend money renovating their homes, investing in new furniture,

Fortunately, if you handle them correctly, you can use these negatives to your advantage and keep booking new clients.

Here's how to handle a negative Airbnb review.

Remain Calm

Of those who research a business, 89% will look at reviews before making their decision.

It's essential to keep a cool head when dealing with negative feedback from guests.

When reading these comments, it may be tempting to get defensive or even angry in response. However, the best way for you to respond to a negative comment is to take it with a positive attitude.

If you're angry when responding to someone who has booked a reservation for their vacation, then they might not book again because they think you're rude. However, if you behave politely, you'll most likely be able to convince them to book another time.

An angry mind­set may be helpful when trying to get back at someone who has wronged you, but a positive mindset will be helpful when you want to win over new people.

Given that, you should approach every negative guest review to problem solve and improve your business.

Acknowledge The Issue

Accountability is key.

Even if you think your guest was wrong or not entirely honest in their review, it is still important to acknowledge the problem. If you don't address the issue, they may feel like no one cares about their opinion.

And good news, too: acknowledging someone is easy.

The easiest way to deal with this problem is to acknowledge the guest politely. It will reassure them that they've been heard.

Show Sympathy And Understanding

Once you've acknowledged the problem, you can go the extra step by expressing sympathy for the person who made a mistake.

If you show sympathy and understanding for someone who has had an accident, that person will be able to trust you even if they don't know you personally.

It shows that you understand that there was a problem and that this problem hurt their experience.

Sometimes, people want to be listened to. This is a suitable method for showing that you understand their problem and the problem it created.

Provide An Explanation

Now, it's up to you to prove your point.

If a customer has a problem with something, don't assume they just made up their mind about it because it doesn't fit into your business model. Instead, think about why it happened and whether there's anything you could've done differently to prevent it from happening again.

Here, you could say that your regular cleaning staff has been busy with other projects lately, but this isn't something you usually encounter.

If this is the first time that an error message comes up, or if it only happens rarely, then potential guests may be able to understand why you're saying that. And they'll probably trust your response.

If this problem continues and your excuses continue, you'll lose confidence.

That leads us to our next point.

Provide a resolution moving forward.

Words are good, but actions speak louder than words.

To truly resolve a terrible customer experience, it's essential to ensure that this doesn't happen again. This means putting in place a system that prevents this from happening again.

If we were to provide an explanation for why the problem occurred, then a professional response might state how policy has moved forward.

For example, if a cleaning company failed to turn around the house before your guest's arrived, you could say that from now on, you'll be using another cleaning service. Or how you've changed cleaning companies altogether.

Don't just say nice things.

Instead, show concrete actions you've taken to prevent these issues from reoccurring.

Here are examples of how to respond to bad reviews from guests on Airbnb.

Let's look at some examples to see how our new algorithm works.

Negative reviews: #1. Critter Issues

The biggest letdown on this vacation was the lack of ant spray. Ants are naturally present in deserts, but they're not usually an issue unless you don't provide them with any form of protection against them (like insecticide). Also, if you don't provide trash bags for guests to use, they will throw their trash wherever they please.

If a visitor mentions ants, this might be because they left something out overnight.

Instead of immediately jumping to conclusions, a better idea might be to address their concerns and explain how the experience will be entirely different for the next customer.

Something like this:

"Thanks for reporting the ants. I'm glad they didn't bother anyone during your visit. In the future, we'll make sure to stock up on ant spray, so we're prepared if any do show up again. And thanks for enjoying yourself!"

After explaining the problem, the host understands the inconvenience it created for you.

Then, they offer a quick summary of what happened, followed by an overview of their new protocols to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Let's take a look at another one.

Negative reviews: #2. Didn't Read The Listing Rules

We were charged for our room even though we didn't stay there. It was horrible. Don't count on them leaving before check-out time. They won't let you back into the hotel after they close.

Here, the guest didn't read the listing properly and failed to follow the rules.

If you find yourself stuck in this situation, it might be better to repeat this, remain calm, and tell people who visit your house that they need to follow the rules.

Thanks for your response, and I apologize if my comment was unclear. Our housekeeper cleans every day before guests check out; however, she doesn't do any cleaning after checkout. She leaves the room tidy and ready for the next guest. You're correct that the complimentary coffee and continental breakfasts aren't offered after 11 am. However, we offer an alternative option for those who wish to enjoy them later in the day. Guests may purchase coffee and pastries from the local grocery store on their dime. We hope this helps clarify things!

Once again, the host acknowledges the problem and apologizes for causing an inconvenience.

Then, they explained why they did something while showing that the rules were clearly written down and the fault was not solely theirs.

Even though they were not at fault for the incident, they still enforced new policies.

For the cherry on the cake, the hosts used this opportunity to encourage potential guests to read listing rules carefully, hoping to avoid this situation in the future

Well done.

How To Respond To An Overly Harsh Review

Believe strongly in the value of user feedback.

Host feedback is one of the most valuable resources available to host managers when they're trying to improve their business.

However, sometimes this feedback can be slanderuous, and a guest may try to ruin you by writing negative comments, or bashing you for things beyond your control.

You have two choices here:

  • No response.
  • Go to war.

It’s not always clear whether going to war is better than no

Sometimes the best response isn't responding at all.

If you have lots of positive reviews, but a few negative ones, you may not need to pay too much attention to them.

If that's the situation, then you might want to just ignore it - especially if it appears out of place or is old (and therefore likely to be negative).

However, if a guest violates policy repeatedly, then a more aggressive response may be warranted.

Unfair Review #1: Guest Had A Party

Pictures were misleading. Chicks in the back of the house, no service when you're near the house because of its location and didn't seem safe in the location. Didn't even seem comfortable staying in this B&B. Found another B&B for a cheaper rate that was much more attractive.

If people don't check out this review, they might think that the reviewer was wrong.

If you don't want to waste your time adding extra context and leveling the playing fields, then maybe it's not worth your time.

This guest had an attempt to host a big event outside of any safety or listed capacities. Unfortunately, such events often occur. Even though we've repeatedly asked him to stop, he didn't listen to us. In addition, his attempts were very disrespectful towards the home. Sadly, such things happen quite frequently. Although we'd love to have known about them ahead of time so we could have made accommodations, we're glad that we found out after the fact. We hope that you'll enjoy your stay despite the unfortunate circumstances.

This answer successfully counters the guest's negative comment.

First, they point out the lack of orderliness of the visitor. Then, they stress the efforts made to accommodate them.

Finally, they admit that if the guest had followed up by communicating better, there would have been no need for them to take these actions.

Try not to be angry when responding to guests. Instead, be calm, logical, and helpful with your answers.

Let's review one more.

Unfair Review #2: Guest Checked Out Late

If someone who has checked out later than usual tries to invade your guests' personal space by invading their private accounts, it helps if you confront them.

I'm glad you enjoyed your stay! Despite it being a great location, it's not worth it to put yourself at risk. The hosts' husband showed up unexpectedly on checkout day and expected to drop things off at the house. They didn't know who we were and didn't know if they could trust us. It was weird, especially with the hosts telling us to make sure our doors were always locked because strangers have walked into their house before. They also said they'd been spying on us through a home surveillance camera. Spying on a bunch of girls for the weekend? Creepy creepy. Thanks anyway!

If no one responds, then potential bookers may assume that the host doesn't want them. So let's see how the host reacts.

This is an inaccurate statement. Our home is monitored 24/7 by security cameras and we keep logs of everything that happens inside our home. We also have a keypad lock system on every door. Additionally, we have a panic button that can be used if someone enters our home without our knowledge. Lastly, we live in a very safe neighborhood and we feel comfortable letting people stay in our home. We would never suggest that something bad might happen during any visit. However, if you were worried about something happening, please let us know so that we can make sure nothing does.

If a user repeatedly breaks the rules, you're the one who gets penalized.

Don't be a jerk.

Finally, invite your guests to criticize.

Don't wait for disaster.

Ask your visitors for their feedback so you can improve your vacation rental. Over the course of several months, you may even notice some things you didn't know were wrong.

Leave a comment card at the end of an event to let people know they're welcome back next time.

A guestbook is a journal usually found in a house’s foyer or dining room where guests can write down comments about their experience. Some people will post positive feedback about their experience, while others will leave constructive criticism.

Take action on this advice and slowly upgrade your house into an almost perfect vacation rental for rent.

By using this strategy, you'll get some great user experience insights offline, which could help you prevent any negative reviews from happening on Airbnb.

When Feedback Is Ignored

One constant across the globe is that guests love leaving a host’s book.

One day when he went out for a walk, the weather was so hot that his house was so hot that he had to

We didn't know if we'd get back into our room before bedtime ,so we left a note in the guestbook.

We were surprised by the number of people who had similar experiences with this problem. It seems like AC issues were the most common reason for this error message.

The oldest comment was posted 16 months ago.

A minor disappointment, but one that won't prevent me from ever going back again.


November 16, 2022

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