How to Effectively Respond To Negative Reviews?

If there’s anything that a guest never wants to hear from a hotel is that he’s wrong. Negative reviews can be genuine or judgemental, situational or temperamental, but how you respond to them is what determines customer retention and brand reputation. So before you lock horns or hammer away some harsh words, here’s what you must read first.

No matter what the situation or complaint, a quick response from your end goes from nice to necessary. Another thing you can never discount on is responding in a professional manner. Keep it brief and directly addressed to the complaint, while maintaining a positive tone. But is that all enough? It’s important but not really enough! Cap off your response with the most suited reaction for each situation. This will help you turn a negative review into retention gold and sound out all the negative impact. You just need to pull it off right.

Negative reviews can be pretty daunting, because an unhappy customer has all the right and might to use the tone and stance that he wants. Here are a few examples and suggestions for some of the most common negative reviews.

Genuine Grievance – Mistakes do happen, and when you know your staff or management goofed up big time, own up your mistake. That will take you a long way.  Don’t just be apologetic, go an extra mile to resolve the issue. If the guest hasn’t checked out yet, capitalize on the opportunity and do everything to please and appease them before they leave. In case they have checked out, offer compensation, give away discount voucher or give out whatever it takes, but earn back a smile from them.

Personal attack– Sometimes grieving customers turn furious and get as low as making personal attacks and calling names. Count to three, stay calm and type down an apologetic response. Remember professionalism comes with maturity and at times calls for absorbing a lot more than reflecting. So go ahead and pull it off like a pro.

Professional assault– A customer is always right, but when he tries to publicly malign your brand reputation, you slightly need to defend your brand. Explain the situation, talk about your brand values and wrap up with a promise to look into the matter.

Much ado about nothing– Sometimes people want to create fuss over nothing at all. These are basically the pamper seekers. Give away what they ask for and they’ll be pleased. You might not even need to offer compensation in these cases, just a humble dose of humility is more than it takes to calm them down. Stay humble, apologetic and grateful.

Lost Cause– No matter whose fault is was, if you see it as a lost cause and nothing can be done to make things better, keep your tone friendly yet professional. Address the guest by their name to make them feel important, thank them for taking time out to write a feedback and express a blend of sympathy and apology.

Responding based on specific complaints


Big or small, mistakes have no room in hospitality. From front desk to kitchen, most mistakes are irreversible. Sincerely apologize and assure them extra care and attention on their next visit.

Unclean rooms

Express regret that you couldn’t come up to their expectation level and assure them that you have already spoken to the housekeeping department about it to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.


Apologize and assure that the food may not have tasted best, but it was fresh and healthy. In case the complaint is about stale food, you’ve already committed a blunder. Swallow the pride and apologize deeply.

Maintenance complaint

Greeting and apologizing remain the opening points in the response format but also do assure them that most maintenance tasks are carried out for customers’ safety and convenience. The elevators weren’t functional because they needed a repair job, or the bathroom facility in question is already being upgraded – just a couple of examples.

Customers may not always be right, but then again, they are never wrong. They demand and deserve to be treated with extra care and respect. The day you lose the respect for your customers is the day you start losing them. That’s hospitality industry round-up.

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