There’s nothing quite so damaging to your business as a bad hotel review. In an age when 90% of people check online reviews before visiting a business, a single one or two star review can be all that it takes for a potential guest to pass you over.

But the best hoteliers know that negative reviews represent an incredible opportunity to show the world what your business is about. If you respond in the right way, a negative review can even win you business.

In this guide we’ll take a closer look at the art of responding to negative hotel reviews, including what, why, how and how often.

How damaging are bad reviews?

Almost all travellers now search for and book hotels online, and a key step in that process is comparing reviews. And it doesn’t seem to matter to shoppers that reviews are written by strangers: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from loved ones.

Negative reviews can be incredibly damaging. One negative review can drive away 22% of customers, while three can drive away 59%. No fewer than 86% of customers are hesitant to purchase from a company with negative reviews.

Beyond doing what you can to avoid negative hotel reviews – and a negative review is all but inevitable at some point in your business journey – your best weapon against these rather severe impacts is the right of reply.

Why is it important to respond to negative reviews?

As seen in the stats above, responding to a negative hotel review is important because negative reviews are impactful.

Replying to a negative hotel review grants you the opportunity to apologise, resolve a situation, promise to improve, or perhaps correct the record. Exactly how you reply to a negative review offers readers insight into the standards and values of your hotel, and how they can expect to be treated if they stay.

Responding to reviews is also just good business, as hotels that respond to reviews are 21% more likely to receive a booking inquiry than hotels that don’t.

Forming responses is critical, but challenging. You need to craft quality replies while keeping on top of all the channels through which reviews can be delivered – Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor,, Expedia, OTAs and more. This is where a hotel property management system like Little Hotelier can prove particularly valuable, as our channel manager feature allows you to control all your OTAs from a single portal.

How do you professionally respond to a negative review?

Responding to a negative review is all about context. Some negative reviews will be fair, others might be a little (or perhaps entirely) unfair.

Your response should always be measured. If your business is in the wrong, acknowledge that and tell the reviewer how you plan to rectify the issue and do better in the future. If you feel the negative review wasn’t warranted – “the weather was terrible!” – calmly explain your position.

Some basic rules when forming a response to a negative review include:

  1. Never copy and paste: Generic responses do more harm than good. Always personalise each response, and never copy and paste elements from other responses.
  2. Be professional, fair and objective: Don’t let emotion affect you – where possible wait a day or so before formulating your response. Look at the situation objectively and consider asking for the opinion of a trusted third party. 
  3. Take responsibility: If the issue is fair and you’re ultimately responsible, take that responsibility. If you feel the review is unfair, explain why in a level-headed way. Place a signature at the bottom to show the reviewer that an individual is dealing with the issue.

How should hotels respond to negative reviews?

To effectively respond to negative hotel reviews you need to carefully navigate the criticisms, accepting those that are fair while explaining any potential misunderstandings and misconceptions.

An effective approach is a response sandwich, where you begin with a positive, address the negative, then finish on another positive.

  1. Thank the reviewer, highlight any positives: The fact is that the guest took time out of their day to offer up feedback and should be thanked (though full disclosure: this can also give you the moral high ground). If they left a mixed review, highlight an aspect of the stay that they enjoyed.
  2. Address the issue/s: If the feedback is fair, humbly accept it, apologise, ask for more info, offer a solution and/or share how you plan to avoid the issue in the future. If unfair, ask for more info, consider apologising that the guest feels that way, then outline any misconceptions or confusions in a humble, calm and objective manner.
  3. Return to a positive, extend an invite: Thank the guest again and offer up another positive where possible. Invite the guest back in order to show you’ve taken their feedback on board and would appreciate another chance to prove yourself.

A negative hotel review response example:

Dear Shane,

Thank you for offering up this feedback, and I’m happy to hear you found our beds particularly comfortable. I’m disappointed however to hear that you felt that our service wasn’t up to scratch. At A1 Hotels we’re always looking to improve, so if you were willing to share more about your experience I’d be very appreciative. You can get in touch using the contact details below.

If you ever return to the area and are in need of another comfortable night’s sleep, my team and I would be honoured to host you again.

Sarah J, General Manager (Phone/email)

Should I delete negative reviews?

While almost all review platforms grant businesses the opportunity to delete negative reviews, there are a number of reasons why doing so can do more harm than good.

  • Negative reviews show you the full picture of your hotel, including areas in which you can improve. It’s difficult to enhance your offering when you delete every piece of constructive criticism.
  • By responding to negative reviews you are granted the opportunity to show potential guests who you are as a business, and how they can expect to be treated.
  • A well crafted response, particularly one that includes a solution to an issue, can turn an unhappy guest into a loyal return customer.
  • Removing negative feedback will set off alarm bells with potential customers. If a customer notices that a negative hotel review has disappeared, they’ll wonder how many others may have been removed, and this can severely damage trust.

No business is perfect, and no group of customers can ever be kept perfectly happy, which is why a hotel that boasts a solid five star rating after 100+ reviews will tend to raise eyebrows.

When you start to see the negative reviews not as an issue, but as an opportunity, you can begin to get them working for you.

A better way to manage guest feedback

Aside from crafting a response, the other main challenge in managing negative reviews is the fact that there are so many review platforms: Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor,, Expedia and more. But by arming yourself with the right tech, you can make review management simple.

A part of Little Hotelier’s hotel property management solution, our channel manager feature integrates with 450+ OTAs, allowing you to control every one of your booking channels through a single portal. With our help you can set prices, adjust availability and control your online reputation across all your listings in a matter of clicks!

If you’re ready to turn your negative reviews into something more positive, we’re ready to help. Click here to start your free 30-day trial!

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).