Hoteliers, how do you respond to a bad customer review?

In today’s digital age, online reviews have become a powerful forum for consumers to express their experiences; both their satisfaction and their dissatisfaction. So how should a hotel react when it receives a negative review? Negative reviews are often seen as a blow, but they actually represent a customer’s unfavourable view of your establishment and their experience with you. However, rest assured, a negative review is not necessarily a disaster if you know how to handle it. In fact, it can be a real opportunity, provided you know how to respond.

Why respond to bad reviews?

Why is it crucial to respond to bad reviews? According to a study by Brightlocal, a local marketing agency, 88% of consumers have more confidence in a business that responds to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Responding demonstrates your transparency and willingness to engage with your customers, which can turn an unhappy customer into a fervent supporter of your brand and reassure future customers that their satisfaction is at the heart of your concerns.

It is important to note that bad reviews attract more attention than good ones, as do the responses provided. This is particularly true when you consider that 90% of future customers find out about your online reputation before deciding to make or cancel a purchase, making every dissatisfied customer a significant influence on your prospects. 

Ultimately, responding to reviews, whether positive or negative, gives you the opportunity to continually improve your product or service offering. Therefore, taking customer feedback into account is essential for the growth of your business.

The different types of negative feedback

There are three main categories of negative feedback:

Justified reviews: These are the result of an unfortunate experience actually experienced by the customer.

Unjustified reviews: These reviews are often more subjective, based on a misunderstanding or an unmet expectation rather than a genuine service failure.

Poor ratings without comments: These don’t offer much context for understanding the source of dissatisfaction, but still have a significant impact on your average rating and online reputation.

Each of these categories of review requires a distinct and considered approach, based on listening and engagement, so that you can turn a possible disadvantage into an advantage and continue to improve your quality of service.

How do you respond to bad reviews?

Knowing how to respond to a bad review is just as important as the service you provide. Here are a few tips on how to do this:

It all starts with the way you approach the problem. Stay circumspect: a negative review can be prickly, but it’s important to stand back, keep your cool and never respond impulsively.

What’s more, it’s crucial to respond quickly. Too long a response time can give the impression that you don’t value your customers’ experience. You should therefore endeavour to respond as quickly as possible.

Each response should be personalised: it should be unique and tailored to each customer’s experience. Avoid pre-formulated, generic responses at all costs.

Finally, transparency is the key to good communication. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it and apologise clearly and sincerely.

In short, responding to a bad review may seem daunting, but it’s an opportunity for you to shine as a customer-focused company. With a well thought-out response, you can turn a negative experience into a demonstration of your commitment to providing an exceptional and attentive service.

Good practice

– Respond to all feedback, regardless of tone or content.

– Always thank the author for their feedback.

– Offer a sincere apology if the customer’s experience has been unsatisfactory.

– Deal with each point of criticism individually.

– Clarify any misunderstandings or inaccuracies.

– Highlight the positive aspects mentioned by the customer.

– Invite the customer to give your establishment or product another chance.

Absolutely avoid

– Leave a review unanswered.

– Respond on the spur of the moment.

– Show disrespect or mockery towards the customer.

– Diminish the importance of the customer’s negative experience.

– Using generic and impersonal responses.

– Ask for a review to be deleted unless it is clearly abusive. 

How should you respond to different types of feedback?

Each type of negative review requires a tailored, considered response. Here are some guidelines for responding effectively to different situations: 

Respond to justified negative feedback

Apologise unreservedly and explain the corrective measures taken during and after the incident. It is crucial to show potential customers that the problem encountered has been resolved and will not recur.

Did a room experience Wifi problems during their stay? You’ve changed operator or package, or you’ve installed repeaters to correct the problem.  

You can also make a commercial gesture (discount, free product) and don’t forget to mention this in your reply!

Examples of responses to justified negative reviews: 

“Hello [Customer name], thank you for taking the time to share your experience. We deeply regret that your stay with us did not live up to your expectations. Please be assured that your comments have been taken into consideration and certain measures have already been put in place, including the renewal of the WIFI system. Please accept these few reductions for your next stay and hope that you will have the opportunity to catch up with us.”

Respond to unjustified negative reviews

Respond courteously, explaining the misunderstanding and presenting your side of the story, while offering your help to resolve any misunderstanding.

Examples of responses to unjustified negative reviews: 

“Hello [Customer name], thank you for your review. We regret that your expectations were not met. You mentioned constant noise during your stay, yet our rooms are insulated in accordance with current standards. Perhaps this was an exceptional incident. We would have liked to have been able to rectify this inconvenience during your stay. Please do not hesitate to contact us next time. We hope to see you again soon.

Reply to a bad review without comment

Encourage the reviewer to provide more details to help you understand and address their concerns.

Examples of responses to bad reviews without comment: 

“Hello [Customer name], we noticed that you were disappointed with your last stay with us. We would be very grateful if you could provide us with more details about your experience so that we can improve it for the future. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly, your feedback means a lot to us.”

Implement a review management strategy

Regularly analyse your customer reviews to detect recurring problems and take the necessary corrective action. You can also set up customer satisfaction surveys after each stay to anticipate negative reviews and deal with problems directly. Don’t forget to value positive reviews by thanking your customers – their positive experience is your best advertisement. 

Preventing bad reviews rather than responding to them 

For those who want to minimise the possibility of receiving bad reviews, tools such as Expérience CRM allow you to monitor customer satisfaction in real time and resolve problems before they turn into negative reviews. A proactive approach that can encourage customers to share positive feedback after their experience with you.


Managing negative reviews is not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for hoteliers to improve their service and highlight their commitment to customer satisfaction. An appropriate, well-written and sincere response to a negative review can make all the difference in turning a negative experience into proof of your dedication to the quality of the service you offer and the satisfaction of your customers. So don’t be afraid of criticism, see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.