How to respond to Tripadvisor reviews (with real-life examples)

By Sarah Came |

Author Bio

As GuestRevu's Marketing Manager, Sarah is well versed in the latest hospitality news, and is dedicated to helping hospitality professionals to make the most of the latest marketing trends that may affect them and their guests.

Travel’s not been abundant since Covid-19 started keeping us socially distant, and therefore online reviews have been pretty sparse, too. But, there’s still plenty of info on Tripadvisor for travellers wanting to relieve their pent-up travel passion, and enough examples of how (and how not) to respond to Tripadvisor reviews to get you back in the groove of managing your online reputation.

how-to-respond-to-tripadvisor-reviews-with-real-life-examples

We scoured Tripadvisor for the best (and worst) Covid-era traveller reviews and then analysed these reviews, along with the management responses. As usual, there’s plenty to be learned from these examples of responses to reviews.

How to respond to good reviews, with examples

Responding to a good review is so easy, some even wonder if it’s worth doing. The reviewer was happy, so why spend time on these reviews? The answer, as always with online reviews, is twofold. Firstly, the reviewer took time out of their day to share feedback about your business, and, in the case of a good review, promote it to others. It’s common courtesy to thank them, and it will further nurture the seed of loyalty the good experience has sown. 

Secondly, this reviewer isn't the only one reading your reviews and responses. The way you respond to reviews, whether they are good, bad, or a bit of both, gives your potential guests, the ones browsing Tripadvisor (and other online review sites) an indication of the kind of interactions they will have with people at your establishment. 

Responding to a good review is quick and easy, and there’s a flop-proof recipe: 

  1. Address the user by their chosen username (if you’re using online reputation management software and are able to link a review to a guest profile, be careful not to use their real name by accident)
  2. Thank the reviewer for taking the time or making the effort to write a review
  3. Reiterate one key point in the review for the benefit of other readers
  4. Invite the reviewer to stay again
  5. Sign off with your name and job title

Although it’s tempting, don’t just copy the same response for all good reviews. This comes across as impersonal and insincere, and can even undo some of the positive impression given by the reviewer.

Example: good response to a good review

What Pandemic?

When you visit Crete and particularly Elounda Heights, for the most part, it is hard to believe the current pandemic is upon us. This is because of the welcoming, accommodating and genuine wish by everyone to make your stay as Normal as possible.

At no point did we feel in the slightest bit uncomfortable, unsafe or reminded of the woes going on worldwide (save for the constant news feed on the pool bar TV). Okay, so all the staff wear masks as mandated, but even though you cant see their mouths, you can tell by their eyes and actions that they are pleased to see each and every guest.

The standards of accommodation, food and cleanliness are as good as ever. In fact their standards are normally so good that it would be hard for them to do much more.

Natalia, Kostas and all the team are going a fabulous job in the face of these unprecedented challenges. We enjoyed our stay as much as ever, and probably more as we thought at one point we wouldn't get to go. Having moved our stay from July to August we were lucky enough to get our holiday at our much loved Elounda Heights.

To those of you dithering over going this year, I say do it. If you can afford to take two weeks more off work when you get home thanks to our idiotic government, or are retired, just do it, you won't regret it.

Date of stay: August 2020

Trip type: Traveled as a couple

pool heights, Ιδιοκτήτης at Elounda Heights (Adults only), responded to this review

Responded October 11, 2020

Dear Guy,

We are incredibly grateful that you took the time out to leave us a 5-Star review! We take pride in knowing our customers are happy with their experience in spite of the situation. Thanks for your support, we really appreciate it! Looking forward to seeing you again soon,

Regards, Natalia & Kostas.

Read on Tripadvisor

The review is glowing, so it’s hard for management to get the response wrong, but Natalia & Kostas get it particularly right with their succinct reply. They address the reviewer by their username, and reiterate that the review was 5 stars, and that guests are happy despite “the situation”. 

Their gratitude for both the review and the custom seems sincere, and as an added bonus, the response is well-formatted, making it easy to read. Although they don’t include their job title, from the context of the review readers will have no doubt that the people at Elounda Heights put guest experience first. 

More examples of good responses to good reviews:

Example: average response to a good review

Excellent response to COVID-19 pandemic

Had the privilege to stay at Lamon Guesthouse during the COVID-19 pandemic as an essential worker.

I felt at ease with my choice of accommodation from the moment my booking was made. Management professionally requested all documents to prove that I am essential and also provided me with a thorough safety protocol to follow for the safety of their workers and myself.

Upon arrival I received a sanitized key for a clean and beautifully decorated room. The bed was amazing and made for a great night's rest after a long day of travelling.

The gardens and grounds still look beautiful and very well kept for autumn. Felt at ease parking my car directly in front of my room in a safe spot.

The braai facilities and provided braai pack truly gave me the "home away from home" feeling. Delicious and wholesome.

I would definitely recommend Lamon to anyone passing through Kroonstad on business or for anyone in need of a lovely weekend away from home after lockdown.

Date of stay: May 2020

Trip type: Traveled on business

Elana Jansen van Vuuren, Owner at Lamon Guesthouse, responded to this review

Responded May 29, 2020

It is a challenge hosting essential workers during the Covid 19 period.

We really appreciate your positive feedback and input during your stay.

All the best.

Read on Tripadvisor

This management response isn't as polished as the first one, but considering the struggle that this hotelier and many like her are going through, the authenticity seems appropriate, and she does remember to thank the guest. 

Another example of an average response to a good review

Example: bad response to a good review

Great stay - July 2020

We stayed here in late July and given the circumstances (covid restrictions) have no complaints. We booked it as a last minute getaway after losing our planned holiday due to the pandemic, and are very glad we did.

Room was a decent size (Triple standard) it was clean and the bathroom had a good powerful shower and the view from our balcony was excellent - see the photo.

The only very tiny issue was the noise from the air conditioning at night although it's not really sleep disturbing once you get used to it.

Staff were hard working, attentive and very courteous, they took the time to speak to you and answer any questions you might have.

Drinks were of the usual "all inclusive" standard, with some cocktails included. Ice-cream from the pool bar was also available on this package.

Food was typical buffet style, and due to covid regs the staff were serving from behind screens and wearing gloves. It was all well prepared and a decent variety, with themed foods on certain days. (see photos) If you were taking a trip then a packed lunch was also available as long as you asked at reception the day before.

The pool area was satisfactory, sunbeds had been removed to accommodate social distancing so you had to be up fairly early to *ahem* reserve yours with the obligatory towel, but that's all part of the fun.

The pool itself is a good size with plenty of room for everyone. There's a section for kids and the deep end is about 3.9m, however diving is discouraged. flip flops or sandals are a must though as the decking gets too hot to walk on, once the sun gets on it.

The terrace was thoroughly cleaned every morning, all surfaces swept and wiped down.

The beach is a 5 min walk from the front of the hotel, but it isn't the most amazing that we've been to. It's quite narrow and stony underfoot. You can hire a car from the hotel if you need to, and with Corfu being small it's worth doing so and heading to another area for swimming. We took a day trip on a boat (Magdalena) which was great fun can be booked from an office a short distance away. Turn left from the gate and about 400m along on the same side of the road.

Bus to Corfu town was 1.5 Euro and 20 mins.

Airport was 35 min transfer.

I think given the current restrictions, Magna Graecia was doing their job very well. We got a good deal for our money compared with other hotels we looked at.

Would we stay again ? Possibly.

Date of stay: July 2020

Room tip: Rooms 201 - 210 face the sea. They are over the bar area, but soundproofing does the job.

Management response:

Responded August 5, 2020

Thank you for your fair comments. We are delighted you had a comfortable and pleasant holiday stay in our hotel. It will be a pleasure to have you with us again in the future.

Read on Tripadvisor

Amazingly, this hotelier doesn't even seem to have read the detailed, helpful, positive review left by their guest. There's no mention of the various services and experiences the guest mentions, they don’t use the guest’s name, nor their own, there’s no indication that the response was even written by a human being. All in all, the guest has done far more for the hotel’s online reputation than whichever anonymous staff member copied and pasted this response into Tripadvisor. 

While using a template will save you time getting your management responses going, you should always customise the template to show you have read and appreciate that specific guest’s feedback. 

Another example of a bad response to a good review

How to respond to mixed reviews, with examples 

A review that offers both praise and constructive criticism, while not quite so nice for the ego as a glowing review, is arguably far more valuable, and more important to respond to. 

The way you react to a mixed review will dictate whether the guest, and all those reading the review, will focus on the positives or the negatives mentioned. It will also give guests a clear example of how you handle criticism and challenges – something that will be very important if anything goes wrong during their stay. 

The formula for responding to a mixed review is similar to a good review, but with one extra step: 

  1. Address the user by their chosen username 
  2. Thank the reviewer for writing a review
  3. Reiterate one key positive point mentioned in the review for the benefit of other readers
  4. Acknowledge where the experience fell short for the guest, and explain what you have done or will do to ensure it does not happen again 
  5. Invite the reviewer to stay again
  6. Sign off with your name and job title (remember that the person responding to reviews should be someone with enough authority to ensure feedback is acted upon)

Example: good response to a mixed review

Odor in Room

The staff was accommodating and friendly. The grounds were clean and sanitary. For the most part, we felt comfortable in Covid-times. Unfortunately, all of this was over-shadowed by the odor in the rooms. Our original room smelled like cigarette smoke. The staff was accommodating and moved us to a room two doors down, but still, there was an odor. The odor attached to our clothes and negtviely impacted our vacation.

Date of stay: December 2020

Guest Services, General Manager at Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, responded to this review

Responded December 28, 2020

Dear Paul J,

It was a pleasure to host you during your recent trip to Aruba. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. While we are delighted to hear you enjoyed the hospitality provided by our team, we would like to apologize for not meeting your expectations in regards to your rooms. Please know we value our guests’ feedback and your comments have been shared with our team so we may continuously improve the guest experience. We would love to offer more personal apologies and invite you to forward your contact information along with a convenient time to reach you to aruba-intouch@hyatt.com.

We would love the opportunity to exceed your expectations and would like to invite you back to the resort very soon.

Warm Regards,

Gabe Castrillon

General Manager

Read on Tripadvisor

Although not entirely perfect, this management response does tick the basic boxes. It’s from someone with enough authority to make changes if necessary (the General Manager), and they sign off the response with their name and title. They also thank the guest for their review, and reiterate that the guest found the team hospitable. 

They also apologise, and reassure the guest that their feedback has been shared with the rest of the team. Some more concrete solutions to the problem of the unpleasant odour, and a more personal tone may have been better, but overall it’s a polite and professional response and on-brand for a large hotel chain.  

Example: average response to a mixed review

3 nights July 2020 (covid restrictions)

We stayed 3 nights and the resort accommodation and environment is stunning with its own private beach. We stayed in a rainforest chalet and had many monkey visitors on our balcony (keep the doors closed). We took advantage of heavily discounted rooms during the restricted movement control order period. The amenities such as spa and bar were closed. The pool and beach were open. We ate once at the dayang restaurant but food was not very good. We didn't try the Thai restaurant which was also open. We went to a harbour nearby for dinner but only one restaurant was open. The final night we took a taxi to cenang beach for a meal. Overall its a lovely resort but felt the restaurant could have been better with faster service. Unfortunately there are very little options nearby for alternatives.Show less

Date of stay: July 2020

Trip type: Traveled with friends

Management response:

Responded October 9, 2020

Greetings from Berjaya Langkawi Resort!

Thank you for your stay with us and for sharing your experience with other travellers.

We are so glad you found our hotel a good place to stay. Our location is definitely one of the things we are very proud of about our resort. We are so lucky to have a property nestled in the heart of rainforest sanctuary and a very strategic location that brings our guest just a few steps away from utmost boundless views of emerald waters and green-cushioned mountain.

On your comments about food and services, we have brought this to our culinary team for improvement. Thank you for staying with us and we hope that you will consider us for your next trip

Read on Tripadvisor

The response here isn’t terrible, but like many of the mediocre and poor responses, it doesn't seem as though management actually read the review they are responding to. 

On the plus side, they thank the guest for their review, and for choosing to stay at the resort, and invite them back. They also acknowledge the guest's criticism of the restaurant, and say they will improve. 

However, the obviously promotional paragraph about the resort’s location, while well written and quite enticing, seems out of place, and doesn’t refer to any of the specifics of the guest's review. The response also doesn’t use the reviewer's Tripadisor username, nor is it signed off by anyone at the resort.

Example: bad response to a mixed review

Lockdown business stay

Spent a night at this hotel for a quick business trip/meet. Myself & my colleague where part of about 10 guests that were staying at this establishment on this evening.

*Pros

Friendly staff

Clean Rooms

Effort made to serve us take away breakfasts

*Cons

Noisy aircon that disturbs sleep

Very small rooms

Date of stay: June 2020

Trip type: Traveled on business

The_CLHG_Team, Public Relations Manager at Road Lodge Richards Bay, responded to this review

Responded July 2, 2020

Thank you for staying with us and for the constructive review. We look forward to having you stay with us again soon.

Read on Tripadvisor

While the content of the management response isn't wholly objectionable, it does commit several cardinal ORM sins. Firstly, it’s from an anonymous team member. Whether the review is good, bad or indifferent, responses should always be from someone with a name, and preferably with a title that indicates they have the clout within the business to make the changes suggested by the reviewer.

The anonymous “Public Relations Manager” also doesn’t give any indication that the specifics of the feedback have been taken on board, or that anything will be done about the noisy aircon. Overall, although they managed to thank the guest for their review, and invite them to stay again, the response comes across as impersonal and insincere – not qualities you want to be associated with your business. 

While the text of this review is clearly mixed, the bubble rating given was 4 out of 5, could management have just posted in the standard review response template without even reading the review? One shudders at the thought...

How to respond to bad reviews, with examples 

Getting a bad review is dreadful, no matter how experienced and thick-skinned you are. When it’s warranted, it’s devastating to know that despite your best efforts, you've failed a guest, when it's not, it's infuriating to see people who have taken advantage of your hospitality besmirching your good name with impunity.

But, bad reviews are where your management responses matter the most. Your response is an opportunity to turn the reviewer’s opinion around by showing that you do care about their experience and will do what you can to rectify the problem. It’s also a chance to show anyone reading that you’re able to find solutions when things go wrong, accept and act upon constructive criticism, or politely and professionally tell your side of the story when faced with chancers and slanderers.

"With the manager response tool, the last word goes to the business owner which really is a huge benefit. So I would always suggest businesses view critical feedback as an opportunity to thank the reviewer for their feedback, use it as an opportunity to improve and also to actually attract more business – we know, for example, that thoughtful management responses can actually increase future bookings, so there’s really nothing to lose!
— Sally Davey, Head of Industry Relations at TripAdvisor

When responding to a poor review:

  1. Step away if necessary. Stand up, get some tea, cry in the cold room, do what you need to do to make sure your emotions don’t end up on the internet
  2. Address the reviewer by their chosen username 
  3. As hard as it is, thank the reviewer for taking the time to write a review
  4. Take responsibility for where the experience didn’t meet guest expectations, and apologise sincerely (without using the word “but”)
  5. Outline what you have done or will do to ensure it does not happen again 
  6. Invite the reviewer to stay again
  7. Sign off with your name and job title (the more authority the person responding has the better, especially in the case of negative reviews)

Example: good response to a bad review

Disappointed in Cabin's maintenance

Our visit was Monday, October 26 through Thursday morning, October 29, 2020.

Although Cabin 4A Heavenly Haven was adequate, there are many serious maintenance issues that Mountain Top Inn Management should address before anyone rents this again.

We have stayed in many State Park cabins, and other cabins and condos, and expected this one to be well-maintained. We were most displeased to find so many problems. When we asked the Office about it, we learned Mountain Top Inn DOES NOT own these units, simply handles reservations. Apparently the Inn does NOT maintain them at all prior to rental, but depend on the Owners. For the price we paid for this cabin for four, we were all surprised to find so many serious issues. Again, we expected these cabins to be maintained as well as State Park's cabins.

NEGATIVES:

Need at least one more Smoke Alarm. The only one is downstairs. There is a bedroom and bath upstairs, unprotected.

Downstairs bath vanity lights are a total FIRE HAZARD. They are close to ceiling, which shows burnt marks. (see photo) There is no vent fan. The vanity top needs replacing; it is marked and very unsightly, and looks dirty. (see photo)

Upstairs bathroom door will NOT shut completely, or lock. There is no vent fan, or shower.

The stair railing is completely black and filthy. We did a quick wipe as a precaution of Covid-19. We were shocked at the black cloth on the first wipe, so we wiped 3 more times, and still black. Gave up and did not attempt the left railing; too much work.

The Dining table is so sticky that our paper plates stuck to the table, every time. We solved this by using provided glass plates as a charger underneath. Even our elbows stuck. Must be something they coated it with, but really not acceptable.

And, there were only three chairs. This Cabin sleeps four and should provide chairs for four to dine. The paper towel holder is missing parts and falls down. The Icemaker DOES NOT work. Many of the dishes are chipped; should be discarded, as this is a harbor for bacteria. There are no potholders. No cutting board. Not one dishwashing cloth or towel.

The front porch was so nice, with a wonderful swing, but one more rocking chair would be so much nicer. And the back deck had nothing but splintery benches to sit on to be able to enjoy the outdoors, which is why we came to Warm Springs. We had to bring dining chairs outside for privacy, as the front porch is facing the highway. Also, the house has never been pressure washed, as mushrooms /fungi are growing on the back wall at the deck, and the front porch floor wasn't ready to enjoy.

The downstairs bedroom door will not turn and/or latch.

POSITIVE NOTES: The beds were very comfortable. The stove worked well, and the refrigerator did too, except no icemaker. The sofa and loveseat were so comfortable and we enjoyed that room very much.

The check-in office personnel, Felicia and Caroline, were very polite and helpful and we appreciated them. However, we were not given a detailed Invoice when we checked in to verify whether we wanted the Cleaning Fee charge of $75, and did not confirm if we had a pet (another $75). If we had been asked, or seen this info, we would have declined, as we planned to clean it ourselves, and we did NOT have a pet. (We rented this cabin for the 2 bedroom-2 bath, since we had 4 elderly adults). We discovered, on checkout, that we were charged $150 we did not intend to, and Management would not change this.

Mountain Top Inn is a lovely place, but we would not recommend it until Management makes sure these privately-owned cabins are maintained satisfactorily. We do hope the other cabins are not in the shape this one is.

Next time we visit, we'll go back to the State Park cabins we've stayed at many times there, and loved.

Date of stay: October 2020

Zeb Alford, General Manager at Mountain Top Inn and Resort, responded to this review

Responded November 6, 2020

I2705GFteresah, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us, we truly appreciate the feedback. We strive to ensure that each one of our beautiful cabins is maintained to the highest standard, so I’m disappointed to read that may have fallen short. Please rest assured that we will do a complete inventory of the cabin to ensure that any possible discrepancies in the cabin inventory are noted and fixed.

With regard to the cleaning fee, it is listed on our website and on the confirmation email that was sent to you in last month. This fee is not optional and all cabin guests are responsible for paying it prior to or at check-in.

Thank you again for your feedback. I’m very sorry that your stay did not meet your expectations and would love the opportunity to regain your trust. Please let me know the next time your planning on visiting Warm Springs and I’ll make sure that your stay not only meets, but exceeds your expectations. Thank you and we wish you and your family a happy holiday season.

Very Respectfully,

Zeb Alford

General Manager

Mountain Top Inn & Resort

Read on Tripadvisor

Research has shown that negative reviews are likely to be longer than positive ones, and here is a perfect example of this trend. This review reads more like a report to management on the state of the accommodation than a travel review. Fortunately, the GM seems to have taken it as such, and not only responds admirably to the majority of the points raised in the lengthy review, but does so politely, professionally and patiently. 

The easy parts of writing a good response are all done right: The manager uses the guest’s username, he signs off the response using his own name and job title, and as the general manager, Mr Alford certainly has the influence necessary to affect the recommended changes. He also apologises for disappointing the reviewer, and invites them to come back and give the resort another chance. 

The manager also explains exactly what they will be doing to rectify the issues raised – a full inventory of the cabin in which this guest stayed, and the promise to fix any issues discovered. 

This review is also an excellent example of a professional but firm response to an unreasonable complaint. If anyone reading this review was about to be outraged on behalf of the guest because of the cleaning fee, the management response politely explains that this is clearly communicated in several places to guests (and does the job of communicating it once more).

Example: average response to a bad review

Avoid until up to Pre-Covid standard

Had just come from a superb stay at Fancourt and was let down horribly by a resort half open. Breakfast in a bag, a sub par golf experience with greens apparently scarified 2 weeks ago - looked like someone had taken a ploughshare to them and then sanded ion the holes - just not good enough for a premier resort course. No restuarant at all and no amenities like trips to beach etc. Thank goodness for our mates in Knysna who made our stay memorable. All said though, the staff were awesome and attentive but let down by owners and managers trying to cash in on South Africans starved of a holiday by COVID. Will taker a lot of coaxing to go back to a resort I have been to 3 times before.Show less

Date of stay: September 2020

Management response:

Responded October 21, 2020

Dear Fingus

Since the reopening of our hotel in July, we have been operating on a curated basis and due to limit staff compliment and Covid precautions, we only offered guest a Deli-style self-service breakfast option and could unfortunately not open all our facilities to guest use.

We have since opened the restaurant, gym, spa and now offer guest a light plated breakfast including coffee.

Kind Regards

Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa

Read on Tripadvisor

Although the misalignment in guest expectations and what the resort was able to deliver during the pandemic is understandable, the tone of the response is almost careless, and no attempt to acknowledge the guest’s disappointment is made. 

A better response would have apologised for the disappointment, and invited the guest back now that more of the facilities are operational. And of course, it would have been signed by name. 

Example: bad response to a bad review

Did not live up to the glowing reviews

We were looking forward to staying at Ouse Bridge House for two nights as the reviews were all so good. The team had done their best to adapt to meet Covid requirements but were perhaps over-stretched when we stayed in early September. Breakfast and lunch orders were placed in the 'magic' box to improve efficiency - a great theory, but we assume the 'magic' was what happened to the orders as we did not receive what we ordered on either occasion. The fruit and yoghurt was lovely, but anything cooked, not so much. Having ordered baked beans both days we were at a loss to receive hash brown with breakfast (not on the menu). The addition of ham to the requested cheese salad sandwich was not a welcome addition. We expected better than basic sliced bread and Happy Shopper crisps in the packed lunches.

The room was tired with much dust around the windows as was evident when they were running with condensation in the mornings. The bathroom certainly needed updating with several loose fittings (taps, towel rail etc).

For a reasonably priced stay this would have been OK, but we paid a premium that was not reflected in our experience.Show less

Date of stay: September 2020

Management response:

Responded October 6, 2020

Thank you Ennon2G[ for your review]

We are clearly very surprised to read your review and even harder to determine who you are and what room you stayed in.

The great joys of Tripadvisor - nobody has to give a name or be held accountable for the comments.

We are clearly surprised that you did not speak to us or give us an opportunity to try and look into the issues with your breakfast order during your stay - did you actually sit at the correct table?

We are very clear with our process, each table has a number which is as per your room number, this ensures that people are kept safe and sat at the same table, but often people will choose to sit where they want and if the numbers are not aligned then you will get the incorrect order.

Talking is a very very easy option, maybe I would recommend that you do this in future, as b&b owners are not mind readers.

We are all doing our best in these crazy COVID conditions to make the place safe and all I can imagine is that your orders were confused as you sat at the wrong table.

Read on Tripadvisor

If you’ve worked in hospitality, you know that there are times when the customer thinks he’s king, but acts like the village idiot. We have all had moments when we would like to be sarcastic, snide and condescending. 

The guest may indeed have sat at the wrong table, they may have been the umpteenth person to do so, the manager may dread catching covid themselves, or having to close their establishment because one of their patrons does. The hospitality industry is stressful at the best of times, and during a pandemic, the stress has increased exponentially. This anonymous manager has reached the end of their tether, and it shows. 

Hospitality, however, is only about sincerity when you’re being hospitable. When guests begin to tip you over the edge, good hospitality requires a deep breath and a healthy dose of diplomacy (or acting).

This hotelier would probably have done better to stand up and get a cup of tea before writing their vitriolic response. It might feel cathartic at the time, but a management response preserved for eternity online in the public eye is possibly the worst place to take out your pent-up frustrations on your guests. 

Of course, the management response does give you an opportunity to tell your side of the story, and the possibility that the reviewer’s order was wrong because he may have sat at the wrong table is valuable information for anyone taking this review into their decision-making process. However, by couching this comment in condescending tones and sarcastic digs at Tripadvisor, the manager also illustrates to the reader that their temper is able to get the better of them – not a good trait if you’re in the service industry.

A note on cancellations…

As a result of the numerous unpredictable lockdowns, changing travel bans and fluctuating regulations. Many trips over the course of the last year and a half have had to be cancelled or postponed. This has meant that booking policies have been thrust to the forefront of guest experience, and online reputation. In their 2021 Traveler Value Index, Expedia stated that the ability to get a full refund was the number one most important factor for travellers deciding where to go, and one of the other major deciding factors was flexible policies to change bookings.

Unpleasant experiences with cancellations, refunds or postponements accounted for a number of particularly unhappy reviews on Tripadvisor. Of course, safeguards like deposits and cancellation policies exist for a reason, and there are circumstances in which offering a full refund simply wouldn't be practical. However, even if the guest never actually ended up even staying at your establishment, your response to their review is still vitally important. 

When responding to a cancellation complaint:

  • Address the reviewer by their username
  • Show empathy for the traveller – not only did they not get their holiday, they also lost money
  • Explain your cancellation policy clearly for the benefit of other readers
  • If appropriate, offer an alternative solution for the reviewer, or explain any flexibility you have already offered – they may not have taken you up on it, but others reading will appreciate your attempt to find a compromise
  • Sign off the review with your name and job title

The management response that follows is a perfect example of how to respond to a disgruntled almost-guest:

Cancellation Policy No Refunds for Overseas Travellers

The Strand Palace Hotel is happy to take your money upfront but is not willing to issue refunds to overseas travellers instead has offered a credit which they already know can’t be used by Australian Travellers due to COVID 19. Notification was provided in April 2020 to cancel the booking giving them ample time to rebook, however not willing to issue refund. Beware this hotel as they will rip you off if you need to cancel

Date of stay: August 2020

Room tip: Don’t book this hotel

Management response:

Responded September 21, 2020

Dear Wayne,

Thank you for your recent review regarding your cancellation request.

We understand that these are difficult times and it is because of this that we are being increasingly flexible with bookings and guest requests. Whilst we are not offering refunds on non-refundable bookings, we are offering credit to be used at a future time in the hope that we are able to welcome our guests back to travelling, and of course to Strand Palace. Whilst we understand that at the moment, some of our international guests cannot travel, we are offering flexible credit which can of course be used when restrictions are lifted. At this moment, we are not asking for new dates just the commitment to travel when restrictions allow this.

I do apologise that on this occasion you felt we were unable to assist in your request, I can see a change of date was offered but denied.

I hope you keep well in these unpresented times and we look forward to hopefully seeing you here at Strand Palace in the future.

Kind Regards

Holly

Front Office Manager

Read on Tripadvisor

Another good response to a review about a cancellation 

It might seem a thankless, time-consuming task, but responding professionally and politely to online reviews can do wonders for your reputation. In a 2015 study, 85% of Tripadvisor users said that a thoughtful response to a bad review improved their impression of the property, and 65% said they would rather book at a hotel that responds to reviews than one that doesn’t.

Having software like GuestRevu’s ORM that collects those reviews from across the web and collates them on one easy-to-manage system can make managing your online reviews much quicker and easier. Click the banner below to see what it's all about.

Topics: TripAdvisor, Best practices, Reputation

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