How to turn negative guest feedback into an opportunity

People who are running a business want other people to talk about it online. They want their business to be mentioned as much as possible to enable potential new customers to find it easily. The same goes for hotel owners, and that is why hotel marketers should always encourage their clients and guests to leave feedback after their experience and to leave a review of the service that they received. This is especially important since BrightLocal's 2018 Consumer Review Survey found that 78% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.




However, where there are reviews, there are negative reviews as well. People are bound to leave negative feedback at some point and it's your job to decide how to handle it. But negative feedback, while often disappointing to receive, can be used as an opportunity to market your business.

Let’s break it down and see how to turn a negative review into a marketing opportunity by:

  1. Showing you care
  2. Apologising
  3. Solving the problem
  4. Asking for a second chance
  5. Showing professionalism

1. Showing You Care

First things first, negative feedback can and should be used to show just how much you care about every single guest who has stayed at your hotel. In other words, use negative feedback to express how important each individual client is to you.

In order for you to achieve this effect, you need to respond to every piece of feedback.

Yes, that’s right.

If your guest took the time out of their day to write something about your business, you need to acknowledge that.

To show your guests the respect they deserve, you need to respond to all feedback, including negative reviews. Always try to:

  • give each review the same amount of your attention
  • don’t ignore negative reviews (or take positive ones for granted)
  • address every customer with the same amount of respect, regardless of the nature of their comments

By doing this, you’re rising above the situation and showing how caring and professional you are. You’re using the opportunity given to you by the negative feedback to show off your quality.

Now that we've covered that you have to respond to the reviews, it's time to look at the possible ways of doing just that.

2. Apologising

The customer is always right. At least that’s what the old saying claims.

When a customer leaves negative feedback, you can either agree with it or disagree. However, your response needs to have an apology, regardless of your personal opinion.

It could be something as simple as:

We’re sorry to hear about this unfortunate experience you’ve had.

Or, you could go a bit deeper and write something like:

Hi there! One of our major goals is to have satisfied customers and always provide top-notch service. We are deeply sorry to learn about your negative experience and will give our best to ensure this never happens again.

This way, you’re showing everyone you’re professional in every sense and there’s no reason for people to avoid you.

3. Solving the Problem

The best thing you can do about a negative review is to read it, learn from it, and use it as an opportunity to improve your business.

Let’s say an unsatisfied guest leaves the following complaint:

What I didn’t like about this accommodation is that the bed sheets were very old and shabby, it made me feel uncomfortable to sleep on.

This is a clearly defined issue which you need to address. A response like this one will go a long way towards acknowledging the guest’s concerns and showing them that you take their feedback seriously:

Dear Sarah, thank you for your feedback. We deeply apologise for this inconvenience. We were unaware of this issue but managed to solve it thanks to your review. We've now replaced the old bed sheets to new ones in all of our rooms.

This way, the people who read the negative feedback while they consider which property to stay with will be able to:

  • see that the problem is solved
  • see that you’re actively listening to and trying to please your customers

This way, you've used negative feedback as an opportunity to improve and grow your business.

4. Asking for a Second Chance

Since every customer matters and you need to fight for each one of them, you could turn negative feedback into an opportunity to make things right.

Instead of trying to convince your former guest that they’re wrong about their feedback, that the problem they’ve supposedly experienced isn’t true, or simply telling them that you’ve changed, you could invite them to stay with you once again and see the difference for themselves.

You could:

  • offer a super discount and invite them back over
  • give them tokens or company credits to use as they wish
  • or assure them that should they not be happy the second time around, you’ll refund their stay

Naturally, your response will then explain that you’ve worked on solving the problem that they experienced, and you hope they’ll come back to give your property a second chance.

This way, you’re doing more than just apologising and promising to remove the issue. You’re asking them to come back and see for themselves, and that shows serious dedication to your guests and the experience that you provide.

5. Showing Professionalism

Finally, the way you deal with criticism and negative reviews will tell potential visitors a lot about your business. To ensure you show off your professionalism and all your skills, you have to pay attention to several things:

  • Responding quickly

Over 40% of customers leaving a review on social media expect an answer within an hour! Once a customer leaves a review, they’ll be expecting a response very soon. You should always stay alert and give every client a reply as soon as possible. It would be best to do it within 24 hours.

  • Responding accurately

Everything you write online remains there for a long time. This is why you don’t want to have any grammar or spelling mistakes in your written comments. Make sure you proofread everything before you post it. If you’re insecure about this, you could check out writing companies which may help.

  • Responding concisely

Nobody wants to read huge blocks of text with long elaborations. Keep your responses short and to the point. The bottom line is, your responses represent your business online and you have to make sure they’re accurate, professional, and to the point.


No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid receiving a negative review. That’s why, once it happens, you need to stay professional and try to make the most of it. Use the advice given above to turn negative feedback into an opportunity and don't allow it to throw you off track.