How to Respond to Negative Travel Reviews

For the past couple months, we’ve been talking a lot about online reviews and how to get more reviews on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, not all of your reviews will be positive. From time to time, you will have a disgruntled customer unhappy with their experience.  

Negative reviews are inevitable, but with review sites like TripAdvisor dominating travel planning, customer service has become a bit of a spectator sport. You’re no longer responding to the single person who left the review but thousands of other people browsing the review site.

How you respond to a review can either destroy a customer relationship and drive potential clients away or position you as a helpful and trustworthy business.

Here are eight steps to take when responding to a negative review:

1. Breathe

It’s hard not to take a review personally, especially if you are the owner/operator of the business receiving criticism. It’s natural to feel defensive, but that won’t resolve anything. Instead, take a deep breath, remember the opinion of one isn’t the opinion of all, and think of this as an opportunity to display your fantastic customer service.

2. Thank them for their review

Whenever someone leaves a review, they are taking time out of their day to bring an issue to your attention.  Thank them for that! They are gifting you with an opportunity to improve an area you lacked in.

3. Apologize

The best way to resolve tension is to apologize, even if you feel like the review is unnecessary. Remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. An amazing experience for one person could fall flat for another. For whatever reason, your service did not live up to their expectations. Own up to that.

4. Show your authority

A response will carry a lot more weight if comes from the owner of the business. Tell the reviewer who you are and how their feedback affects you. It will seem a lot more genuine and personable.

“People are not looking for perfection online. What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response.” Forbes

5. Address the issue head on

When responding a review don’t tiptoe around the issue. Top TripAdvisor reviewers claim that how a business deals with an issue can leave more of an impression than the negative experience overall. Thank them for bringing the matter to your attention and offer a possible explanation for what went wrong or how to plan to improve the experience in the future.

6. Resolve the problem

Take your apology one step further and resolve the issue whenever possible. Have empathy and try to understand the why of the issue. Sometimes what someone complains about isn’t the actual problem. Put yourself in their shoes to understand why they may be feeling so passionately about the issue.  For example, if they missed an important dinner because your tour went longer than expected, book them a reservation at your favorite local restaurant and buy them their first drink.

7. Get a second opinion

Even if you did your best to remain calm and collected, your review might seem defensive. Get someone who is completely removed from the issue to review your statement to make sure no sass slipped through the cracks.

8. Send a follow-up

Your work isn’t done once you hit send. Make sure you check back on the review to see if the reviewer left a follow-up response or if anyone else has commented. Try to remember their name and what they look like if their review shows a picture so you can provide top notch service the next time they visit.

Now that you know the seven essential elements of a negative review response check out this Mad-libs inspired template. There’s no one size fits all response to reviews, but this will give you a framework to start. Remember to personalize the blanks, so your response sounds genuine.

Check Libs: The perfect response to a negative review
*The inspiration for this template comes from an example listed on Review Tracker

The next time you receive a poor review, don’t stress. Instead stay calm and follow these eight simple steps an maybe even play some Check Libs.

Get our free guide to online reviews.

And learn everything you need to know about achieving a 5 star rating.

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