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How to handle and learn from negative guest feedback

As a holiday cottage owner, you'll provide your guests with paper-based or online feedback forms so that you can learn exactly what they thought of your property and the experience they had there; but you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

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Being told your property is gorgeous is – obviously – very nice to hear, but you need to know how to handle and learn from negative guest feedback too. While their holiday, on the whole, may have been fantastic; some guests may feel let down in some way by the quality of the cottage or by one relatively small part – but it is the little things that count as we all know.

“Most guests in today’s marketplace expect smart TVs, iPod docks and Wi-Fi”

Constructive criticism, as some cottage owners see it, can be highly beneficial when it comes to making improvements to the property and can even go some way towards increasing bookings down the line – we’ve all got to learn some time, right?
It’s always important to read the negative feedback as well as any positive responses you get, especially when it provides suggestions on how to improve your property. Staying on-trend and up-to-date is always important, especially as most guests in today’s marketplace expect smart TVs, additional home entertainment like iPod docks and free, good quality Wi-Fi.

“Most guests in today’s marketplace expect smart TVs, iPod docks and Wi-Fi”
There's a lot to be said for welcoming touches such as mood lighting

How to handle negative guest feedback

If you’re going to learn from the negative feedback from your guests, it’s important that you understand how to respond to it and that, as difficult as it may be, you don’t take the negative review too personally.

The best method is to issue a professional response to the guest, informing them that you’ve received their comments and explaining how you will resolve the issue, whatever it may be.
Imagine if someone left a review saying they found the bed to be uncomfortable. This would give you the opportunity to test the bed for yourself and replace it if you agree. You could then answer the review by thanking the person for their comment and showing how you’ve addressed the issue they raised. e.g. "Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry you found the bed uncomfortable. While the mattress was only 3 years old, it has now been replaced".

In our experience, there’s a lot to be said for welcoming touches such as mood lighting in the lounge, a place to put muddy boots and a welcome pack – all of which make a customer more inclined to provide a positive review and to book again. This could be something you look to implement ahead of your next guest’s arrival.

a small amount of negative feedback can have a positive long-term effect

How to respond to negative feedback

Some holiday home owners will be inclined to reject negative feedback, but getting back to your guests in some way may help to encourage them to book with you again in the future. A polite, personal response will show that you’ve taken their feedback on-board, understood their frustrations and are keen to ensure that the same issues don’t happen again.

Making essential repairs and improvements based on guest feedback is important, but it’s just as important that you acknowledge the feedback. Sure, your guests may have been disappointed in something relating to the property, but by getting back to them in a friendly and apologetic manner you could persuade them to book again next year.

Here at cottages.com we use an independent review system called Reevoo to collect feedback from guests who have stayed at our owner's properties. Having online reviews show we're confident in the quality of the properties we offer and it helps to set us apart from competitors who may only be on unregulated sites such as TripAdvisor.

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Don't worry if you get a negative review. You may be surprised to know that a small amount of negative feedback can have a positive long-term effect. That’s because it helps you improve your property for greater customer satisfaction. Remember that it’s almost impossible to please everyone all the time. A negative review could simply be someone’s personal taste or judgement. Look at your overall score and other comments. If one comment goes against the general tone other people will often write that their experience was better.

To find out more about letting your property, contact cottages.com today.

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