Here’s How to Handle Bad Reviews From Vacation Rental Guests

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
September 9, 2022

Guests end up leaving less-than-stellar reviews on top listing sites like Airbnb for many reasons. Maybe they complained during their stay and, despite your best efforts to resolve the issue, gave you poor feedback anyway. Or perhaps you’ve been blindsided by a bad review, but would have jumped into action had you known there was a problem! 

Regardless, getting one-star (or even two- or three-star) reviews can seriously damage the reputation of any vacation rental — whether you’re a first-timer trying to make a good impression from the start or a longtime owner with a strong reputation across multiple properties. And ultimately, it can hurt how much income you earn each year.

We’ll walk you through the damage that low ratings can cause and show you how to respond to get your home back in five-star territory.

In This Article:
What Happens If You Get Bad Airbnb Reviews
How to Respond to Bad Airbnb Reviews
How to Get Rid of Bad Airbnb Reviews 
How to Prevent Bad Airbnb Reviews

What Happens If You Get Bad Airbnb Reviews

For starters, you may see an immediate dip in your home’s listing reputation. If a bad review puts your rating below a certain average on Airbnb, your listing may be paused for a few days — meaning it won’t appear for travelers in Airbnb search results or show up if someone goes directly to the link.

Whether your property is just starting out or has been accepting vacationers for years, too many bad Airbnb guest reviews can also result in complete removal from the listing site. (Vrbo and have similar consequences when negative reviews are tied to cleanliness.)

When a negative review rolls in on any listing site, it’s time to spring into action. Your home isn’t doomed, but it requires an immediate, hospitality-driven reaction that addresses the issue head-on.

How to Respond to Bad Airbnb Reviews

When your home gets a bad review after a guest’s stay, here are three steps you should take to respond:

1. Take Time Before Responding

Replying to negative feedback in the heat of the moment can do more harm than good, as your words may come across sharper than intended. It’s important to remember that once an owner’s response goes live on Airbnb, it cannot be edited. (Note that other sites do allow edits.) 

When a guest review lands on Airbnb (or Vrbo), owners have 14 days to respond (other listing sites have a bit more leniency). So there’s plenty of time to let emotions settle and think through the best way to respond. In an effort to maximize this window of opportunity, Evolve owners are always notified the minute a new review is public.

2. Assess the Feedback Objectively

On Airbnb specifically, star ratings aren’t revealed next to the reviews themselves, so if the content of a lackluster review is neutral, our team recommends leaving it alone. 

In that situation, you haven’t been given any context for the poor rating (and neither have browsing travelers), so your public response could ultimately be what draws negative attention and turns people off from booking your home.

If a bad Airbnb review contains negative commentary, however, use the critique to understand where your property may fall short for travelers. Look for any themes or patterns from previous reviews. If you scroll through, you might see that even the happiest guests mentioned these grievances in passing — but were less bothered by them. 

In this scenario, it is important to respond. (Again, after you’ve had a moment to reflect.) Absorb the feedback and prepare to write back, because your response may say more about your commitment to hospitality than the negative review did.

3. Be Forward-Focused with Your Response

Now that you’re ready to respond, it’s important to reassure the dissatisfied guest that you’ve heard their complaints while keeping future bookings top of mind. Make it known that you’re righting the wrong by clearly outlining the steps you’ve taken to guarantee five-star experiences.

That said, responding gracefully is often easier said than done. It’s likely you take a lot of pride in your property (as you should!), so it’s easy to let emotions take over. Just remember that one person’s opinion does not define your rental business, and your response is what truly sets the tone for performance moving forward.

When you work with Evolve , a team of writers help craft review responses on your behalf. You simply provide the insight you have into the situation, and we create an effective response that addresses a guest’s concerns and boosts future booking performance.

How to Get Rid of Bad Airbnb Reviews

To overcome bad Airbnb guest reviews as quickly as possible, here are a few strategies you can use:

1. Take Action to Address Feedback

Take that plan of action you laid out when assessing the negative feedback, and complete as much of it as you can before the next guest’s check-in. If the complaint was about bare cabinets, for example, or that bathrooms were poorly-stocked, invest in essentials for those spaces. Add spices, coffee, and other kitchen supplies, or replace hand soap, towels, and toiletries in every bathroom. Make sure you address the details and do what’s needed to make guests feel relaxed and comfortable as soon as they come in. 

2. Champion Hospitality

Guests expect personal touches and a high level of care when they stay at a vacation rental — and their reviews will reflect it. Help them feel right at home with thoughtful gifts like a nice basket of local goods or a personalized note, and provide a welcome book to make their time in your area memorable. These small acts of kindness show guests you’ll go above and beyond to make their stay special.

3. Shift Your Pricing Strategy

If your upcoming calendar is open or you only have a few reviews, a flexible pricing strategy can help you strike the balance between profitability and occupancy — as well as give you more opportunities to collect great reviews. 

While dropping your rates temporarily may feel counterintuitive to earning more, it can give you the competitive edge and capture bookings on days where your property would be empty otherwise.

Plus, if travelers are deciding between your property and another that has must-have amenities and similar pricing — only the other has consistent five-star reviews — they’re going to choose your competition. Adjusting your pricing creates a differentiator that’ll help get guests through the door and bring in five-star reviews faster — bumping negative feedback to the bottom of the pack.

The trick to pricing adjustments is figuring out when, by how much, and for how long. Evolve can take these questions off your plate. With help from our exclusive pricing tool, our experts dynamically shift rates to meet traveler demand and keep your home competitive year-round.

How to Prevent Bad Airbnb Reviews

With your response sent and immediate actions taken to fix any issues, your focus should turn to keeping bad reviews from appearing again. Here are a few ways you can prevent them and guarantee good feedback in the future:

1. Keep It Clean

The crucial factor: make sure your home is the gold standard of cleanliness and maintenance so it’s guest-ready for every stay. Download cleaning checklists for you and/or your service partners so you have peace of mind knowing your home is spotless for every arrival. You should also regularly check all of your amenities, light sources, plumbing, and appliances to confirm they’re in working order. 

2. Upgrade to Avoid Issues

Address any outstanding items from your action plan that you weren’t able to tackle right away. If your bad Airbnb review mentioned lacking a certain comfort, invest in the parts of your home that left them underwhelmed. Add fresh bedding or new mattresses to promote super-comfy nights of deep sleep. Upgrade appliances, indoor decor, and inviting outdoor spaces. And quickly fix or replace anything that’s broken, like a faulty dishwasher, thermostat, or entertainment system.

3. Set Accurate Expectations

It’s easy for guests to get upset when the rental doesn’t live up to expectations. If your property listing boasts stunning mountain views, for example, but guests have to lean over the side of your deck to catch a glimpse, they’ll think they were duped. Your listing should paint a detailed, realistic picture of what guests will experience during their stay  — so be sure to clearly note any seasonal considerations for amenity usage and make sure photos don’t distort your space. It’s also important to routinely review your listing to keep it current.

Owners who work with Evolve have the support of experts who proactively make sure your listing is interesting, accurate, and optimized for bookings — so you can focus on crafting five-star in-home experiences.

Bounce Back From Bad Reviews with Evolve

A bad review on Airbnb or other listing sites might mean you take a hit, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your vacation rental. If you focus on helping your guests rest easy, we’ll handle the data-backed strategies to help skyrocket your property’s performance.

Evolve has plenty of tips to help owners be successful with vacation rental, from filing your taxes to maximizing your rental income in any market. We’re here to support you at every stage of your journey, whether you’re just starting out or ready to expand your portfolio. With multiple management plans, no commitment required, and a 100% Risk-Free Guarantee in your corner, you can tap a team of experts to unlock your highest potential.

Vacation Rental Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

We’ll help your home reach its potential, with unique resources and pricing strategies that skyrocket your success.

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