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Guest reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly – are a fundamental component of the Airbnb rating system. When they’re ugly, they can have a detrimental impact on your listing, scaring off prospective customers and seriously damaging your reputation. If you’ve received a negative review or two, don’t sweat it. Here are a few tricks to help you overcome and make the most of negative reviews and keep you on track to becoming a Superhost.
Research shows that, on the whole, Airbnb reviews are generally more positive than sites like TripAdvisor. That’s probably because of Airbnb’s two-way review system, where hosts and travelers can rate each other, different from other platforms where reviews are weighted in favor of the guest. With nearly 95 percent of short term rentals boasting an average of either 4.5 or 5 stars on Airbnb, it seems a disgruntled guest is less likely to leave a less-than-stellar review when a host can write a negative reply on their profile too. That’s not to say a guest won’t leave a mediocre review on your page. If this does happen, it could hinder your ability to attract guests, especially if you don’t have enough reviews on your page to counteract the bad (a recent study showed that 64 percent of vacation rentals on Airbnb had 10 or fewer reviews a year).
Airbnb offers guests a section for private feedback where they are literally prompted by, “What can the host improve?” This gets the guests’ gears turning and offers them a place to leave you suggestions. Pay attention to these. Are you noticing any patterns or repeating comments? Address them ASAP, especially if they’re referring to problems. And if they’re just suggestions (like what to add to your kitchen) consider these tips as they’ll set you apart from other hosts and raise the bar for delighting your guests. This private feedback is key to spotting potential issues before a future guest can leave a negative review. If someone’s left a private complaint, rectify the issue so a future guest doesn’t air their grievances publicly.
When that dreadful review does plant itself permanently on your listing, take the time to leave a public response. While it might be tempting to post a negative reply or attempt to set the record straight, take a deep breath and turn the situation around. If needed, don’t reply straight away; take time out and think about your response. You have 14 days to carefully craft a response.
Be kind, stick to the facts, and apologize if you made a mistake and your rental didn’t deliver what your listing promised. If a complaint is due to your amenities, or lack thereof, respond if you’ve made an improvement to your rental since the guest checked out.
Has someone complained about the shortage of kitchenware in your property? Thank him or her for the feedback and state you’ve added more pots and pans. Did a guest point out marks on your bathroom wall? Say you’ve recently given your rental a lick of paint. Did you forget to meet them for check-in and kept them waiting? Apologize for it and tell them it was an honest mistake that you plan to never repeat.
Few people actually respond to online reviews – only 7 percent, according to TripAdvisor – so doing so could quickly reverse your hosting fortunes and set you apart. Most importantly, responding shows future potential guests that you do, in fact, care about them and the quality of their stay.
A massive 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But what happens if a poor review mentions your customer service rather than the standard of your home? While you might not be able to remove a negative review from your profile page, you can greatly reduce your chances of receiving one again by evaluating your reservation and booking procedures.
Remember, guests want a host who responds to questions promptly and accepts reservations quickly, and also goes the extra mile by providing items such as restaurant menus or a map of the local area.
A negative review could sully your name and damage your booking ratios in one fell swoop. Remember to identify the telltale signs before a customer escalates a complaint, be positive and proactive when a guest leaves negative feedback on your page, and tell the world that you’ve made changes to your rental since the review was posted.
By Michelle Giuliano
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