The Dreaded Bad Review… and what to do about it!!

April 16, 2013


Ten thousand travelers may have a wonderful and positive experience in your vacation home without needing to write about it on the internet, but one extremely negative review on a platform such as TripAdvisor can have a devastating effect on your ratings, reputation, and occupancy. If you haven’t had a negative review, count your blessings because odds are that you will at some point in your rental business. If you suspect you have an unhappy customer on your hands in your vacation home, give them a way to express their anger before they get the chance to log on and tell the world about it. Here’s how.


Make sure to follow up with your guests after their stay. This is very important for several reasons.  First, you may be able to bypass any problems they may have had in the home.  When I first got started, I rented to a group of friends in one of my luxury homes.  I met them when they arrived, showed them around, and they loved the home.  A few days after their stay, I was surprised to see a less than stellar review on FlipKey. The renters complained that there wasn’t enough toilet paper, soap, or paper towels in the home. They also didn’t like that the home wasn’t stocked with condiments.  I immediately called the renters and found out they had never rented a vacation home before. As all you owners know, we generally provide ‘Starter’ packs of paper products, etc. for a renter.  Long story short,  a phone call after they stayed would have discovered these problems and avoided the review. Luckily, the renters understood and removed the review.


Second, all of your guests have valuable information that can help you grow as a business. Make a short survey that you ask each guest that has stayed in your home. Include questions such as what did you like, what didn’t you like, how can we improve, and would you rent from us again.


Your guests can use the survey to vent their frustrations in a constructive manner that does not immediately cause damage to your business. Make sure to listen to their ‘Comments’ carefully and address each one as factually as possible.  If your disgruntled visitor has the chance to have their say, they’ll either be less inclined to repeat the process on a public travel platform, or the review they had in mind beforehand will be significantly milder, thanks to your quick-thinking damage control.


I often offer gift certificates of $20 or less to customer that are disenchanted with their stay. This usually is a good way to show that you really do care about your guests. You would be surprised how many of my disgruntled renters have turned into lifelong renters by listening to them and giving them what they need to make them happy.

Over the years, we have found the best way to mitigate bad reviews is to make sure to set your renter’s expectations before they get to your home. We have emails that are sent to each renter when they book a home that specifies what each home has and doesn’t have (i.e  Starter packs of paper products). Also, make sure you let your guests know if a home has had pets in it as some people are extremely allergic to any pet hair. Make sure your photos of the home are current so there will not be any surprises for your guests when they get to your vacation rental. Most importantly, follow up with your renter before, during, and after their stay. If you do all of these things, it is extremely unlikely you will have many if any unhappy customers.



About Greg

Greg is the owner of Pacific Coast Vacation Properties, a high end vacation rental management company located in San Diego, CA. He also owns a full service real estate brokerage company that helps owners buy vacation rental and commercial property. In his spare time, Greg volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and other charitable groups in San Diego.

View all posts by Greg

Subscribe Now!

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply