Host Customer Service Tips

How to Respond to Bad Airbnb Reviews

Receiving a negative review, whether it is a fair evaluation or not, is not pleasant to read. Unfortunately, no vacation rental host is prone to bad guest reviews, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Below, learn why you should respond to bad Airbnb reviews and how to professionally handle them.

By Stephanie Kidd

Last updated: August 04, 2022

Should You Respond to Negative Vacation Rental Review?

You should always respond to both positive and negative reviews. Receiving unfavorable reviews can be disheartening, but responding to and addressing them is a part of a great marketing strategy. It shows that you care for your guests and their experience at your vacation rental property.

Many guests trust online reviews just as much as they trust a friend or family member’s recommendation. This means that if they see a bad review with no response, they may continue searching for an alternative option.

woman looking at airbnb.com on a laptop

Steps for Responding to Bad Airbnb Reviews

It’s not easy to respond to negative reviews, but it is important. Taking the time and effort to reply to an unfavorable review can result in a 16% boost in customer advocacy.

Here are some tips that can make writing your responses easier.

1. Remain Calm and Read the Review Carefully

It is normal to feel angry, upset, concerned, or confused when receiving insults and criticism. However, it is important to avoid instant responses driven by emotion rather than formality.

Before responding to a negative review, take a moment to breathe deeply to help you remain calm. Read the review carefully for clarity and think about it. Taking the time to settle your emotions and formulate what you want to say can help tremendously, enabling you to deliver a better response.

A great tip shared by David Leroux, Airbnb coach, writer, and podcaster, reveals that “you don’t want to be confrontational. You don’t want to argue with them. You don’t want to be mean to them. You have to understand their issue and address it in a timely fashion to avoid a lot of escalation.”

In other words, getting back at the previous guest with an angry mindset might feel good in the moment, but a positive mindset is more valuable in winning over potential guests.

vacation rental host using guest screening app

2. Take Responsibility

When receiving a complaint or negative feedback, the last thing an upset guest wants to hear is an excuse. Whether or not a negative review is rational, you must view it as an opportunity to showcase your superb customer service and salvage your relationship with the unhappy customer.

Don’t retaliate even if their poor experience is not your fault. To address the situation, it’s best to take the client-centric approach by taking responsibility for their poor experience. Be willing to hear them out, and make sure you’re doing the best you can in providing a better quality service.

In return, you get to reinforce your excellent service and make potential guests feel reassured knowing you take complaints seriously.

3. Reflect on the Positives of Their Stay

If the upset guest left any positive comments in their negative review, take that opportunity to highlight that good comment, reminding them that their experience wasn’t all bad.

For instance, say a guest left a review noting that your property was extremely clean, but they were disappointed about the AC not being cold enough. You could acknowledge their appreciation and communicate that cleanliness is a priority for all guest stays. Then, include in your response that you are taking the appropriate steps to fix the AC as soon as possible.

Reflecting on positivity may encourage disgruntled guests to give you another chance and show prospective guests that complaints are taken seriously.

4. Tell How You Plan to Improve

To help ease the tension and make your guests feel heard, tell them how you plan to improve your service. This could be reimbursement or discounts, hiring more reliable cleaners, or prioritizing maintenance. By informing guests of your solution plan, you also show future guests that you are proactive, making them feel safer choosing your property.

Additionally, if you want to ensure customer satisfaction, you can also ask what could have been done better to make things right with them.

5. Thank the Reviewer

One of the goals in terms of marketing your vacation rental property is to have people talking about your property. A negative review might seem like bad news, but the truth is, whenever someone takes the time to write anything about your property, they feel strongly about your business as a whole.

Even when someone points out something negative about your property, you should thank them for giving you feedback about their experience. This gives you the chance to improve your vacation rental management for their benefit and to the benefit of your future guests.

Additional Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

Now that we know how to handle negative reviews, the bonus tips below will help ensure you remain professional and courteous:

  • Don’t write generic replies, but follow a consistent format in your responses.
  • Be professional and thoughtful in your responses.
  • Wait around 24 hours before submitting a response.
  • Give discounts/compensate for really poor guest experiences.
  • Don’t take negative reviews personally.
  • Express why you disagree without deliberately making them look like a liar.
  • Ask them for a second chance or say that you hope they try your listing again.
young woman looking through bad airbnb reviews

Can You Remove Bad Reviews on Airbnb?

While you can’t remove any reviews on Airbnb, you can do the following options:

  • You can ask the Airbnb guest to revise the rating if they are open to it. Kindly let them know how they can find their former review and ask that they edit it.
  • You can ask Airbnb to remove the review only if the review violates Airbnb’s content policy. The policy includes any comments that relate to illegal or harmful activities or are explicitly graphic, violent, threatening, discriminatory, and harassing.
  • You can postpone leaving the guest a review as guests have 14 days to leave a review after check-out. Waiting at least a few days to prompt guests to leave a review will give them more time to cool down and encourage them to reconsider any harsh feedback.

How to Deal With Untruthful Vacation Rental Reviews

Every Airbnb host is susceptible to reviews that contain untrue incidents and false accusations. While you can’t remove false reviews, you can report them if you think they violate Airbnb’s review policy mentioned above.

When handling a false vacation rental review, it is best to keep a cool mindset. Bright Local’s consumer survey reports that 89% of respondents are more likely to favor a business that responds to both negative and positive reviews. This means that you should carefully deliver a response to an untrue review even when it is upsetting.

Again, a vital part of dealing with unfair and untrue guests is to never respond with anger. Instead, be calm, sympathetic, and thoughtful with your responses.

Preventing Negative Vacation Rental Reviews

Don’t wait for any negative reviews to escalate publicly for other potential guests to see. Instead, leave a guidebook in the living room or kitchen of your vacation rental home to allow guests to write about their stay.

Not only can a guestbook enable visitors to share positive aspects of their stay at your vacation rental home. It can also help you receive constructive criticism on how to upgrade your property moving forward. This approach will help you gain useful feedback offline and even prevent negative reviews from arising online for future guests to see.

Our tips for responding to bad Airbnb reviews will help you stay calm, acknowledge the issue, show that you care, and provide a plan of action to improve your service. Not only will you encourage previous guests to change their perception of your listing, but future guests will also be more likely to book with you knowing that you’re proactive.

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