How to Respond to Negative Hotel Reviews? Top Tips

Is your hotel or restaurant business affected by negative online reviews? Are a few lousy customers threatening you against online negative reviews? Is there a way to effectively respond to negative online hotel reviews for damage control.

In this article, we present a few of the tops tips to deal with negative online hotel reviews. Let’s get a few pro tips here to know how to respond to negative hotel reviews.

All hotels love to have more direct bookings from hotel website. However, that leaves them with chances of ill-motivated negative online hotel reviews.

Dealing with negative online hotel reviews at times can be draining for the marketing team and might even hurt the brand.

There are a few tips that can be followed to deal with these negative online hotel reviews.

How should you deal with Negative Online Hotel reviews? Some of the pro tips

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  1. Stay Positive
  2. Acknowledge the issue and respond compassionately
  3. Try to be empathetic while dealing with online negative hotel reviews
  4. Try to understand the issue with the customer’s perspective
  5. If the hotel is at fault, take ownership right away
  6. Apologize and ensure the resolution at the earliest
  7. Invite the guests to visit again and if the discount is on, offer right away- never lose a customer to a complaint
  8. Follow up

It is important to impress a customer at every Customer touch point.

It is even more important to be real and not to ignore these negative hotel reviews as explained in the below infographic by Sellerdeck.

So, how can negative online Hotel reviews impact your business? 

Let’s run through a real-life example. Larry and Pam Wills have owned the Gables Wine Country Inn located in the Sonoma wine region of California for the past 6 years, and they got their first-ever threat a couple of year ago.

The threat was a negative TripAdvisor review.

Larry said the guest talked to him and said he didn’t receive the concierge service level he should have had and would write a negative review unless he received a refund.

Larry said it was a fairly bold move.

Willis informed the guest his complaint didn’t align with their refund policy. The guest did not take any action on his threat, but it put the couple on alert.

For a clean organization, even one negative online review can be a dent on brand image.

According to lodging executives, guests are using threats of negative reviews on Travelocity, TripAdvisor and other sites to further their own agenda.

Negative Online Hotel Reviews

How do Hotels respond to Negative Online Reviews?

To respond to a negative online review. It is absolutely essential to be compassionate and polite as mentioned in a blog post by Xotels.

Of course, larger lodging companies have a plethora of options at their disposal – unlike small companies like Willis.

But responding to negative reviews is not an easy task even for the Bigwigs of hotel industry.

Let’s take an example of Marriotts for instance.


Marriott Director of Revenue Management Michael Rossolo said in an interview that the review threats are a regular occurrence.

Guests frequently make their complaints known to the hotel staff.

Some will write their negative review while still visiting because they know hotel staff monitors the travel websites.

This usually results in guests getting a call to see how things can be made better for them.

For instance, he said if guests complain about the poolside bar being closed without notice, the hotel may send the guest a nice bottle of wine with a note to their room.

How Online Travel websites and hotels Are Dealing With Blackmail Negative Reviews?

This is quite a popular question in the current era. The question of dealing with negative hotel reviews.

A lot of customers threaten hotels to post negative online reviews just to get freebies. We gave some example of negative hotel reviews in this post to exemplify the same.

Sometimes negative reviews are even triggered by competition.

The issue is that the social platform is huge and it is easy to blackmail hotel properties through these negative reviews.

It is up to the authority travel websites to ensure that they don’t act as a platform for such blackmail online reviews.

Online sites have been working to keep reviewers from posting blackmail reviews.

For instance, TripAdvisor will look at each review, and with the help of automated tools, flag material that appears questionable.

It employs more than 300 people in seven countries to ensure each review is legit.

TripAdvisor Senior Communications Director Brooke Ferencsik once said that hotels need to report the threatening behaviour to the site before the bad review has been posted.

The website will do its own investigation and ask for proof of any action and look at the history of the guest and property.

What does Research say on Negative Online Hotel Reviews?

Sarah Tanford, a William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas associate professor, said threats of bad reviews are real because one negative review could cause people to pick another restaurant or hotel.

Her research noted that negative Internet reviews tend to weigh more heavily on guests than other things such as price.

Sarah’s article on Placing faith on Virtual Strangers dwells deeper into how negative reviews can impact Consumer behaviour in the service industry.

Hospitality industry personnel understand how important it is to make an unhappy guest satisfied, especially in this day in age.

For Willis, if the guest was still at the inn, he could have taken steps to make things up to him. The couple has just eight rooms, which means they just can’t give free nights away to avoid the bad review.

Willis said he hoped the positive reviews would outweigh the negative one when potential guests looked them up.

Do negative reviews improve Hotel Services? An example

While we discussed responding to negative hotel reviews with examples, there are a lot of hospitality organisations that have gained out of the whole episode.

A Business Travel News report said the possibility of negative Internet reviews has resulted in the hospitality industry putting attention on better service.

Hotels realize that they work in a world where a traveller’s experience is expanded to potential customers through these review sites.

Alan Muskat owns a tour company in Asheville, N.C. called “No Taste Like Home” – guests are taken into the wild to find edible foods they can bring to a restaurant so that it can become a meal.

Each person’s experience is different and may not meet their expectations.

Muskat said there have been many folks who threaten to post a negative review online.

However, the company came up with another method to combat this possibility. Guides ask guests to write their review on paper before the tour is over.

Muskat said the company learns immediately if there’s a problem and attempt to address before it gets to the Internet.


Dealing with customer complaints and negative reviews is crucial for the profitability of the hospitality business.

It’s crucial to know about responding to negative hotel reviews for running a hotel business successfully.

Expectations to have excellent customer service in the hospitality industry requires all organisations to proactively deal with negative hotel reviews.

While some negative reviews are posted for leverage against the lodging company, a majority of the negative reviews are to warn travellers about the possibility of problems such as loud noise, poor sleep quality, unclean rooms, etc.

Dealing with negative online hotel reviews can be done in a positive and structured way.

While a lot of these reviews are genuine, several ill-targeted and bot reviews are also doing rounds on the booking engines and hotel websites.

With the advent of technology, all we can hope is that these blackmail reviews can be weeded out automatically so that both the users and hospitality organizations can benefit from authentic reviews.