Sometimes it happens, there’s not much you can do about it.
A guest comes, stays, says nothing and leaves.
Then the bad review comes in.
Let’s make an example:
It was noisy at night. The bathroom was smelly. There was a lot of dust and there was nothing nice on TV
How to reply?
The bad reply
The bad reply is the one where you let your emotions decide what to write. You feel it’s unfair and want to make things right.
So you write:
You should have closed the window. The bathroom was smelly because you don’t eat well, have more vegetables and less meat. There may have been a bit of dust because the last guest left 10 days before. TV has 300 freaking channels, what the hell?
While you may be 100% right, you are damaging yourself. You are giving the impression of being a person who does not accept criticism and does not want to improve.
The good reply
Another option may be:
Thank you for your precious feedback!
Yes, in summer time the street is a bit noisy until 1/2 am, due to the bars. I am sorry about that, we will install an air conditioning system so windows can be kept closed. I hope we will be able to do this and not increase the price.
I went to check and I was not able to find the smell. Maybe it was a temporary situation and you were just unlucky? What kind of smell was that?
It’s never been reported before so I am quite at loss here.
My fault, 100%. The weather has been really dry lately and we left the windows open to let the air in. The day before your arrival I was out of town and did not have the chance to pass the hoover. Sorry about that!
There’s really no way for us to add more channels. We only have 300. Seriously, I hope that was a joke! :)
John, I am really sorry you were not satisfied with your stay, I always ask Guests to let me know if something is wrong but I understand it may be embarrassing to contact me for things which should be all right from the beginning.
So I’ll do all I can to improve based on your feedback.
Ok, this reply may not be perfect and you’ll have to find your style, but note how it feels different.
Here you look like a considerate person who tries hard, acknowledges problems and wants to improve.
Who are you writing for, really?
That’s the most important thing to remember when you write a reply: it’s not for the Guest who left it!
This Guest is gone and will never come back. He/she may even never read that reply.
You write for your future Guests to show who you are.
They tend to believe what the other Guest say and you can’t change that.
So at least try to make them understand you are a nice person to deal with. That makes a difference.
If they understand you are indeed nice and professional they may even see the bad review coming from a bad Guest.
In that case, you won.
A review is free feedback. Feedback is really important and companies spend millions reaching out their customers for feedback on which to act upon. You just got it free. Don’t waste it. Read it and improve everything you can.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask your Local Manager help in writing a reply, a third party, who is interested in the well being of both Guests and Owners, may have interesting suggestions. It’s all about perspective and we’ve got a unique one.