Pro Tips for Property Owners and Managers on Turning Negative Reviews into Returning Guests 😍


Are you guys ready for another episode of BnB stories? This week, we have an essential topic for every property owner and manager out there. Last week, we talked about how to make sure you always get 5-star reviews. We’ve also talked about how to handle negative reviews. But this week, we’re going to talk about how to spin a negative review into a way to bring in more guests.

If you receive a negative review, you need to learn how to alleviate the fallout and spin it in a way that will give your property new advantages. Whether you’re using software to sync your rentals or using a short-term rental channel manager, you need to make sure all your properties have the right amount of positive reviews.

But here’s the first step: Don’t panic. Don’t go into fight-or-flight mode, and remember that an unblemished score is very unrealistic.

Why Are Reviews So Important?

In the 21st century, reviews make the world go round.

We use property management tools and calendar sync tools for vacation rental management. We spend hours researching how to perfect our properties, we use rental calendar syncs, to ensure we get 5-star reviews.

But why do we put so much emphasis on 5-star reviews in the first place?

To keep it simple: The more positive reviews you receive, the higher your property’s SEO ranking score is going to be, which eventually leads to more bookings (and, for example, your chance to become an Airbnb Superhost.)

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Yes, please!

Whether you’re a property manager who manages different tenants through property management software or an owner who uses booking sync software, you always need to make sure that all of your properties are consistently getting good reviews.

But let’s say the dreaded moment has come: You get a 1/5 review. What do you do?

Other than learning how to reply to a negative review, it’s essential that you learn why you got a bad review, and what you can do to fix it.

Your 4 Main Tactics of Dealing With Negative Reviews

First, cool off after reading the negative review. (We get it; it’s aggravating!) Then focus on achieving the 4 goals listed below. Think of this list as the essential steps you need to take to turn a negative reviewer into a returning guest:

  1. Learn how to identify your guests.
  2. Identify the true lemons vs the guests who have the potential for being lemonade. (Lemonade? What? Don’t worry, it’s explained below!)
  3. Decipher whether there are any opportunities you may have overlooked that could help grow your business.
  4. Strive for customer loyalty, and develop relationships.

These goals apply to you if:

  • You’re a property manager (even if you use a property management tool or a sync tool for vacation rental management).
  • You’re an owner (even if you use an Airbnb channel manager [or channel manager] or Airbnb booking sync).

Now let’s get down to business…

1. Learn How to Identify Your Guests

Divide guests into two categories:

  • Prospective guests
  • Guests who have stayed at your property but left negative reviews.

Before you even start advertising your property, you need to identify your target guest. By knowing the type of guest who wants to book your property, you can write a targeted description (which influences your wording, the features you highlight, and the details you exclude), put up pictures that will cater to your target guests, and even offer them special amenities.

Here’s a little exercise for you:

Visualize the type of guest who would thoroughly enjoy your property. Is your property a Zen-like place with little-to-no technology, right in the middle of the wilderness?

Then it’s much likelier that your target guest will be an adventurer/nomad, rather than a businessperson. So, you can cater the entire experience to the type of guest you’re targeting.

Spinning Negative Reviews

Let’s say the wrong guest booked your property. Or maybe even the right person booked it, but had a subpar experience. The first thing you need to do is try this little exercise:

  • Take a minute to reflect on that difficult guest.
  • Talk to a friend, and share about an unpleasant moment during your experience with this guest.
  • Write the Top 3 words that describe your most difficult guest.

Now you’re ready to…

2. Identify the True Lemons vs the Guests Who Have Lemonade Potential

Instead of being offended by the suggestions or reviews left by angry customers, use them as learning experiences.

After you’ve written the Top 3 words that describe your difficult guest, you’ll be able to identify what type of guest they are.

Remember, there are two main types of difficult guests:

  • Lemons

These guests are usually super-demanding. And no matter what you do, they’ll never be satisfied. So trying to fix things may be more damaging than just letting them pass.

Keywords to help you identify them: Irrational, hypersensitive, mean-spirited.

  • Lemonade

These guests are just as demanding, but are satisfied when their needs are met. They appreciate it when a host puts in the time to fix the problem or improve the situation.

Keywords to help you identify them: Grateful, listen, picky, just want their needs met.

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Of course, it’s no surprise that we highly recommend you put all your effort into the lemonade, and very little effort into the lemons.

3. Figure Out If You’ve Overlooked Any Opportunities to Grow Your Business

Now that you’re shifting your focus towards the lemonade (aka demanding guests who are easily satisfied once their demands are met), it’s time to figure out what you could do to turn negative reviewers into returning guests.

First, you need to look at your property from different angles:

  1. How does it look through the guest’s eyes? You can figure this viewpoint out by staying at the property yourself, and acting like you’re on a vacation.
  2. How does it impact children and the elderly? Is it suitable for all age groups?
  3. As a property manager, ask yourself who is right for your property, instead of just trying to close a sale.

After you’ve looked at your property from a different perspective, it’ll be easier for you to answer the remaining questions, which will help you figure out how to capitalize on this opportunity…

Are This Guest’s Demands Reasonable?

Was the heat broken during the winter? Was the house notably dirty? Did your Airbnb calendar fail to sync with your other properties, so you had to cancel?  If their complaint was reasonable, the next steps would be:

  1. Reply to their review and apologize.
  2. Address the fact that you’ve fixed the problem, so other target guests will see that your problem is solved.

Is This Complaint about Something You Can Control?

Perhaps the complaint involves nearby traffic being too noisy, or the location being too far from public transportation. If so, you probably can’t control these variables, so you need to ensure that they’re clearly communicated in your description.

Could You Reuse What They’re Demanding in the Future?

Are they suggesting you add a heater or another amenity that you don’t currently have?

  1. Assess whether you’ll be able to use the item they’re requesting later, so you’ll know if you can justify the expense.
  2. Calculate short- and long-term Return on Investment. (Should you invest in a new heater? Use an Airbnb VRBO calendar?)
  3. Is the problem systematic? Could another guest face it?
  4. Look a few steps ahead, and try to figure out whether they’re asking for something that could bring you more guests later on.

4. Strive for Customer Loyalty, and Develop Relationships.

This one’s all on you, and it’s a cheap, effective way to turn a negative review into a returning guest. Make sure you take responsibility for your actions and truly show that you care about the customer, especially if the problem at hand is something you could resolve.

  • Don’t leave any negative reviews unanswered. Always remain respectful and mature, and apologize as needed.
  • The way you handle a negative online review will speak volumes about the type of host you are and your level of professionalism.
  • Clearly explain the key complaints and the steps that have been taken to solve them.
  • Offer some form of compensation, whether it’s a coupon code, a full refund, or a complimentary 1-day stay.
  • Highlight all the changes you’ve made (or intend to make).

For Property Managers

Make sure to frequently reach out to your owners, and confirm they’re pleased with the business you’re offering. Don’t leave it up to luck. Instead, try to proactively ask for reviews, so you’ll always improve your service.

Calendar synchronization software for property managers really helps clarify your schedules, so you can plan enough time to tidy up the house before the new guests arrive.

Of course, a stellar online reputation is essential for all property managers. If you’re using a synchronization tool for vacation rental management, then you definitely need to maintain positive reviews across all platforms!

Prevention Pro-Tips:

Use the following prevention pro-tips to make sure you’re turning negative reviews into returning guests.

Pro-tip #1: The #1 source of negative feedback is unrealistic expectations.

A lot of hosts are overly surprised when they see they’ve gotten a bad review. They think they’ve done everything right until that one review comes in.

If you want to avoid receiving negative feedback, try to steer away from using too many “superlatives” in your description. Don’t try and oversell your property in the description. Then you won’t present unrealistic expectations, which creates more potential for disappointment.

Pro-tip #2: Keep your page/website updated:

To avoid any confusion and disappointments, make sure that all pictures, descriptions, locations, and amenities are kept up to date.

Pro-tip #3: Be as honest and transparent as possible.

If your street is a bit noisy, highlight it on the description by focusing on how lively the atmosphere is, and how close the property is to the top entertainment venues in the city.

Pro-tip #4: Keep an eye on recurring problems that tenants have with property managers

  • Maintenance requests that aren’t clearly communicated.
  • Hefty application fees
  • Problems with security deposits
  • Hidden fees
  • Uncleanliness
  • Unprofessionalism

A Few Last Words…

If you get one bad review amongst many positive ones, it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, if you think about it, it adds a little bit of humanity and honesty to your profile! It’s all about how you deal with the negative review, and how you spin it all to your own advantage.

Just make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can, so guests have a perfect stay and give you good reviews!

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