How To Respond to Good and Bad Reviews

Guest Reviews and What To Do if You Get Good and Bad Ones

Reviews … if you own a holiday cottage, then you will also get reviews.

A potential guest will usually check out reviews and see how they’re answered, too.

Depending on the platform (Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor) reviews can also help get you noticed, hopefully for the right reasons!

Feel the Fear

Working with the public and providing a service means everyone has an opinion as to how good you are at doing your job.

While you can’t please all of the people all of the time, reviews can also offer helpful feedback.

Everyone that owns or runs a holiday let will feel the fear of a bad review.

Yet how you respond to a guest’s comments can be more important than the review itself.

Criticism and Feedback … a Fine Line

When you work hard at running your own business, or if you work as part of a dedicated team, it’s hard not to take things personally.

Reading this article will help you ‘deal’ with deadly reviews in a way that shows you in a good light.

We will also give some examples to help you.

And if you get five-star reviews, always take the time to respond too, and respond to each good review individually.

There is a fine line between criticism and feedback, although in the long run, they are really the same thing.

The way the comments are expressed often influences how you feel: reading between the lines can be helpful, and enables you to see things more objectively.

Reading Between the Lines

Structured reviews indicate the guest has taken time to think about their comments.

You also get reviews which have been written on the spur of the moment and in a fit of anger.

Which would you dread more?

For many of us, it would be the ‘spur of the moment’ review: full of angst and emotion, perhaps exaggerations and inaccuracies.

In the same way, your responses shouldn’t be spur of the moment, either.

The best thing to do is to read the comments, then draft up a response: leave it, go back to and alter if needed before posting your reply.

Positive Points and Negatives

The review may have some positive points as well as negative ones.

Yet we also learn about their disappointments: was something broken, faulty or failed to work? Was something missing?

If the reviews state there was noise, they didn’t sleep well, then is this something that needs addressing if you’ve said your cottage is peaceful.

Having a holiday home means you need to check things work, are in place and more after each let … otherwise, guests notice and many will let all and sundry know.

Check You’re Accurate

As we all lead busy lives, sometimes you might forget to alter something on the website.

This means when the customer booked, they booked expecting (quite rightly) everything that is described.

So, if you’ve changed the bed from a king size to a double, but you’ve not updated your listings, then your guest has the right to point this out.

Always be accurate with your descriptions: this includes location, parking, Wi-Fi coverage and more.

Exaggerating or ‘being economical’ with reality will always lead to disappointment.

If you’ve fallen foul of this, you could say:

‘Thank you so much for pointing this out and we are very sorry this information was up to date. We will take immediate action and will the information is now correct.’

Check if the Guest is Accurate

Guests can be truthful and back up any responses with photos or even video.

A genuine complainant may show you the evidence and give you a chance to resolve the problem.

You could say something like this:  ‘Thank you for showing me this, that is very much appreciated as this gives me a chance to help you/sort things out.’

If a customer threatens a bad review if you don’t ‘give them their money back’ or similar, then this isn’t acceptable. Find out more here.

Responses … Why They Are Important

It can be tempting to ignore a poor review … after all, you’re busy and writing a well thought-out response is time-consuming.

Ensure you respond and perhaps follow our advice, below.


This global platform has in some ways been ‘outshone’ by Google Reviews … however to ignore a TripAdvisor review is a mistake.

1)    Check your reviews regularly

2)    Be sure to respond in good time

3)    If you are very unhappy at a review, or feel it isn’t authentic, you can ask TripAdvisor to remove it, although this doesn’t always happen

Read the review a couple of times (yes this can be hard but will help you to focus).

Be polite. If the review is rude, being polite will make the reviewer seem even ruder.

Thank them for their review and then deal with each point in turn.

Don’t deviate from their comments, and keep responses brief and truthful.

If their comments are fair and perhaps things didn’t go to plan, then apologise and let them know you will be in touch with a resolve.

Or if it’s something simple like something was broken, then thank them and say how you value their comments, apologising for the oversight.

Guests in the Post-Pandemic Era

In the post-pandemic era, there seems to be less patience with things in general, and people can be very quick to complain.

If the customer has not/did not give you a chance to rectify it (and it was possible to sort it, had they let you know), then mention this in your review, too.

You could put something like:

‘Thank you so much for your feedback, we always appreciate our customers’ views.

‘As per our pre-arrival information, which goes out to all our guests, we have a telephone number/email address which we monitor regularly and any issues can be reported on either or both of these. This gives us the opportunity to rectify the issue for our valued guests.’

Some guests will let you know while they’re in situ while others will put up but not shut up.

It can be a no-win situation …

Facebook and Social Media

As with all review platforms, regular checks are essential.

If they’ve provided a name then use their name in your response.

Some holiday companies advise responding with the solution: so, if you offer a return stay for free, then can be placed in the comments.

There are two sides to this though: guests who see this might ‘chance their arm’.

Perhaps the more professional and safer way is to say: ‘we’ll be in touch with you directly by phone/email …’


Google is a powerful entity and reviews good or bad can be influential.

Ensure you check regularly and respond even to reviews which are a star rating only.

One of the most irritating things about Google Reviews is that some people leave a one-star rating but then no comments. Annoying!

If this happens to you, your response could be:

‘Thank you for taking the time to give us your star rating. As we are unsure why you’ve given us such a low score, we are not sure how we can help or rectify the situation.

We appreciate all our customers and their feedback, though, and thank you again for taking the time to offer your rating.”

Reviews in Person

In some ways, these can be the most difficult ones to handle.

A customer complaining in person, face to face can be a battle, and can also be intimidating.

You can usually read the body language, so if the customer looks tense or unhappy then be prepared.

1)    Stay calm

2)    If you can, see if things can be discussed in a private setting

3)    Listen and try to avoid interrupting

4)    Get the facts, and thank them for their comments

5)    If it’s helpful, take notes

6)    Make sure the customer is calmer

7)    Repeat back to them their main points, adding softening sentences such as ‘I am just checking I’ve understood this correctly so I/we can help you.’

8)    Solutions, not excuses! Sometimes things fall short because you’re short staffed … this is not what the customer wants to hear. Instead, and even if you’re not sure how, say we’ll find a solution and we’ll keep you informed (phone call; email), and if you can, give a deadline by which you’ll get back to them.

Good Reviews

Thank them, the customer, and say how much you value their comments.

Tweak each response and pay attention to their salient points.

This shows you pay attention and read it thoroughly.

Sign off by saying we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Share on your socials, include in awards applications and more.

Common Complaints

The most common complaints tend to be the most fixable.

It can be difficult if you live some distance from your holiday let, however here are the common ones.

1)    Dirty premises – if this is raised more than once then you need to check the cleaning regimen.

2)    Inaccurate information – honesty is the best policy and update your website etc regularly.

3)    Broken items – accidents happen, but not replacing broken items is a no-no. If it’s a large item then let the guest know in advance.

4)    Missing items – if you’ve promised something and then not delivered, then the guest will be unhappy. This could be something as simple as toilet roll!

5)    Lack of information – either on your website, or at the property. Be sure to have a good welcome book <LINK> and up to date leaflets.

6)    Poor comms – never has it been more important than now to communicate all the important guest info beforehand. If they don’t read it, be prepared for them to ask questions, and offer to resend the information if needed.

If it’s something that’s happened during their stay, for example, a boiler breakdown, then while these things happen, it can take the edge off a customer’s staycation.

Most people understand that things can go wrong.

By way of making up for it, you could:

Provide a free bottle of wine and some chocs.

Book a pub meal/get a pub voucher for the guest.

Offer a discount on a return stay.

Check out the competition

It is good business sense to see how venues similar to yours answer their reviews.

Ask for a review

You can prompt a guest who enjoyed their stay to write a review  and you can do this in person or in a follow up email.

If a guest has been less happy, best to perhaps avoid prompting a review just in case.

If you’ve got wall to wall five-star reviews then well done … however the average is usually a mix of 3 to 5 stars, which is realistic.

And if a bad review is the exception rather than the rule, guests will see this.

Response Tick list

Read the review thoroughly.

Draft up a response including a thank you for their review.

Leave it and go back to it, make amends if needed.

Check for errors and then post your response.

Find out more about Vista Retreats here.