Are Negative Reviews Losing Your Bookings? Here’s What You Need to Do

As the influence of electronic word of mouth increases, how your guests review you online has a very real impact on bookings.

According to TripAdvisor, 83% of travelers refer to online reviews before making a hotel booking. 80% said they read 6-12 reviews before booking*. For a potential guest, reading reviews not only reduces risks when making purchase decisions but it can also help them discover what’s new on the market and feel part of a community.

Negative reviews can directly affect a potential booking; hence it is extremely important to understand why a guest has given you this feedback so you can respond appropriately. Understanding the reason behind negative feedback can also help you find – and address – systemic issues so you can reduce negative online reviews going forward.

Why guests leave a negative review?

Every guest has their own reason to leave online reviews. Some want to be helpful to others by sharing their own experiences, others are attracted to the prestige of being a top reviewer and another group is incentivized to leave reviews. Common areas that are highlighted within negative reviews are:

·      Rude or unhelpful staff.

When they book into your property, guests expect a warm and hospitable experience. They expect attention. And when these are not offered by your team, they get grumpy.

·      Lack of hygiene.

2020 has taught us a lot and remolded consumer expectations towards travel completely. Health and hygiene come first. If your property drops the ball on this, your guests will tell.

·      Unmet promises.

If your website and social channels promise an experience that is not delivered in real life, expect your guests to be upset. It is important to not oversell your experience or set lofty expectations. In general, the principle of under promise and over deliver will win you, loyal customers, over time.

How to manage negative reviews?

Embrace the negative reviews with a positive attitude

The world is more connected than ever before and people like to share their customer experiences. If you want to ride this wave, you have to accept this change and respond accordingly. Listen to your guests, understand why they are complaining and make improvements to your guest experience where needed.

Make sure you connect with your guests and tell them how you are improving the experience. Lay out the steps. Provide a timeline and where possible, provide a real example – perhaps by inviting the guests again to enjoy your improved experience.

Respond promptly

Keep track of your online reviews and respond quickly. The guests will appreciate your speedy response. It also prevents the review from reaching too many people online without your response to it (remember, internet spreads news fast).

Be polite in your response. Address the guest by his/her first name and don’t blame the guest for the bad review. Respond to every review – positive or negative.

Seek out reviews proactively.

Don’t wait for the guest to give you a negative review; seek them out in person when the guest is on-premise. Address this feedback quickly and let the guests know how you propose to make a change to ensure an excellent experience for the next time.

Identify and handle fake reviews

If you’re suddenly flooded with negative reviews or have consistently negative reviews coming in, identify their legitimacy. Typically you can pick these reviews out through things such as missing details, no record of a visitor recommending competitors. If you proactively follow your online reviews, you should be able to identify these and flag them with the platform where they have been raised.

Suppress negative results on Google

If your negative reviews are making it to the top of search results, deal with them by pushing out positive content on your owned channels – website and social media. Develop a robust content strategy so you can rank for pages other than your negative reviews. It is also important to claim your review platform and optimize it.


Online reviews have never been more important to hospitality businesses, and convincing guests to leave the quantity and quality of reviews that you want is no easy feat. But, by understanding who is leaving reviews and why, and with the help of direct guest feedback and reputation management tools, you can certainly encourage your guests and leave them feeling motivated to share their experiences online.