Don't let negative reviews of your vacation rental property hinder business. Use reviews as a powerful marketing tool instead.
You can't please everyone. Even the best of the best businesses receive negative reviews about their properties from time to time. Although negative reviews are unpleasant, there are many ways to effectively respond and transform negative reviews into positive marketing opportunities.
Generally, those who write reviews are customers who are very happy or very unhappy. Unhappy customers typically aim to place blame for a negative experience. They are able to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, meaning they generally use harsher words than they would if they were face-to-face with you sharing their problem. To make matters worse, the impact of a negative review far exceeds the impact of a positive review, making it imperative that you deal with these negative reviews before vacation rental bookings are impacted.
Reply to negative feedback
Silence can be your worse enemy. If a customer writes a negative review and there is no response from you or your agency, it may come across that you don' thave responsive customer service, or that you have no response to the 'truthfulness' of their negative review.
Many businesses shy away from responding to negative comments. However, small-to-medium vacation rental agencies and individual property owners who are establishing their brands often cannot afford to let these negative reviews shape their brand image. You may only have one chance to expose yourself to a prospective guest: don't let that one chance come from an unsatisfied customer.
Respond in a timely manner
Timing is everything. If you leave too much time between the negative review and your response, you will most likely lose the opportunity to turn the negative review positive for many potential clients who saw the negative review without your response.
With hundreds of review websites on the Internet, how do you find out when a review is written in real-time? One way is to create a Google Alert for your vacation rental website and company name. This way any new content that is written on the Internet that includes your agency’s name/website will go straight to your e-mail. Note of caution: Only pages that are indexed by Google are sent to you.
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Transform a negative experience to a positive opportunity
First thing first, listen to what the customer is actually saying. Is it just a personal attack or is their negative review a reasonable reaction to a bad experience? Don't forget negative reviews are meant as a feedback source for you as much as it is meant for potential future clients.
Below are a few ways you can use negative reviews as a marketing tool:
Sample negative review: “The apartment is not kid-friendly.”
These types of reviews may negatively affect family-oriented renters, but could be perceived as a positive for younger guests or couples traveling without children.
If this is a recurring issue, highlight the fact that the apartment is ideal for those who want to rent a vacation rental property that caters to adults. Link to a past review of a customer who appreciated features that appeal to this group.
Sample negative review: “The apartment is located in a noisy neighborhood.”
There is little you can do to reduce the outside noise as a rental agency or owner. What you can do, however, is highlight the location as a perfect place for young renters who are looking to have a fun and lively vacation.
Market to younger audiences by responding that the apartment is located in a neighborhood where the renter can enjoy nightlife and entertainment. Refer the negative reviewer to a "quieter" property you have and highlight the property to your target audience. This will help ensure that you are targeting customers who are going to be happy with your property, increasing the chance of the customer referring your properties to others.
Sample negative review: “The apartment we rented was not clean."
If this was a one-off exception, don't be shy to let them know. If this is an issue that you are confronted with regularly, make sure you address the issue, apologize and reply with how it was resolved. This way, customers can see that you value their feedback and make things right when problems arise.
What to avoid when responding to a negative review
Don't let your emotions get the best of you. A response that is a personal attack on the reviewer will definitely do more damage to you and your company than the actual negative review.
If you feel the negative review had no truth to it or was just a personal attack, respond in a civil manner highlighting how past customers have not had such an issue in the past (link a previous positive review if possible.) Let them know that you will take their opinion into account, and thank them for taking the time to review. This will highlight that you are equipped to deal with all types of customers and enhance your professional standing.
Managing reviews is a key piece of your marketing strategy. Vacation rental property websites from Kigo take your efforts to the next level. Get a free demo to learn how a Kigo website serves as a comprehensive marketing and booking system.
(Editor's note- we have updated and republished this article to benefit readers new to the Kigo blog.)