Stop Bad Reviews for Your Rental
Airbnb recently took down a rental listing after a Facebook post by guests about hidden cameras on the property went viral. Clearly, social media has an immense impact on all businesses, especially in the hospitality sector. This is why as a property owner, conducting a review of your online presence should be one of your top priorities. As many as 90% of customers read online reviews and as many as 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation from friends and family. Negative reviews are especially a cause for concern, since even a single negative comment could put off potential guests. So how do you go about protecting your rental listing from negative comments? The question you should be asking is:
How to make the most of the bad reviews?
Not all bad reviews are bad for business, and there is something priceless you can gain from them – authenticity. Your guests are likely to find it odd if you’ve had no negative reviews at all. Lack of negative or lackluster reviews may lead some potential guests to think your listing is fake. This can seem like a catch-22 situation, since blocking all negative reviews and ratings can make your rental listing unauthentic, while allowing them can impact your revenues. In fact, even a single additional star on Yelp can be worth as much as 5 to 9% more bookings as per a paper published by Harvard Business School.
Best practice is to have the right response strategy to all reviews and taking prompt action as per your strategy. First thing on your “online reputation management” plan should be to identify the root cause of negative reviews for your listing.
Finding negative reviews and performing a root-cause analysis
Finding negative reviews about your business is simple if you can put yourself in your guest’s shoes. It’s important to remember that Airbnb may not be the only platform where you’re being reviewed. Conducting a simple Google search by entering your rental “listing title” and “review” can reveal surprising results at times. Typically social media platforms and search engines are likely to be more trustworthy sources for your guests. A 2017 report published by SEO specialist Brightlocal maintains that Yelp, Facebook, and Google are the most trusted review platforms. Being present and responsive on all major social accounts could be the first step to allaying the concerns of your guests.
The next step is to seek out recurring patterns and themes. Negative reviews are your first direct source of feedback, and they can help you address issues that can harm your reputation in the long run. For example, some of the most common reason why you’re receiving a negative review could be lack of communication.
Almost 83% of consumers expect a response to their comments within a day
Having a well-defined response and communication strategy can go a long way in helping to maintain your ratings and reputation. Another reason why the majority of your guests could be leaving unappealing reviews is simply a mismatch between your listing and their actual experience. Getting a professional response and communication management team can help you with both of these issues. However, if you were to do it by yourself, you should prioritize the type of negative reviews. Generally speaking, you should be able to divide the negative reviews into two distinct categories. Read on to understand how to respond to both.
Genuine bad experience with leading to a negative review
Often a bad review from guests can be a result of unavoidable circumstances that are out of your control. Internet service collapse is one of the most commonly cited causes for a negative review in sentiment analysis performed by Monkeylearn, a machine-learning-based text analysis company. Surprisingly satisfaction about the internet typically doesn’t rise above 70% even for five-star hotels.
In such cases, reviews could be justified, and your response should be empathetic, and genuine. A prompt response can not only neutralize further escalation but also turn a negative into a positive. JetBlue for example always exemplifies customer service on social media. Here is a recent example of how they responded to an aggrieved customer, by not only recognizing the issue, but by compensating for it.
One of the best practices is to respond with your guest’s name to make it more personalized. The Airbnb social media team also uses this approach quite often to address the complaints of both property owners and guests.
The key takeaway about Airbnb’s response strategy is to also take the conversation offline, with DM or phone.
Responding to an unfair negative review for your property
In many ways responding to genuine complaints is easier than responding to trolls. However, once in a while you are likely to encounter guests who are not only troublesome during their stay, but also a threat to your online reputation once their stay is over. The best way to manage these “unreasonable reviews” is to tell your side of the story. Taking a stand when a guest is abusive goes a long way in improving your reputation. Delta Airlines made headlines for example with their professional and firm response to racist comments by a passenger.
By taking the time to consider the possible implications, Delta Air managed to change the narrative, something that you could make part of your response strategy.
The hospitality business is now increasingly dependent on crowdsourced intelligence and insights. In order for you to increase the number of bookings for your listing, it’s important to maintain a healthy social profile. While you can never fully stop bad reviews (and perhaps you shouldn’t even if you could), you can certainly stop bad reviews from impacting your business. Prompt response, professional tone, and empathy can help you convert the negative sentiment into a positive one.