If you’ve ever gotten bad hotel reviews you know the hassle that goes into mitigating the rippling effects. Statistics show that travelers are 21% more likely to leave a review after a negative experience at a hotel than a positive one. This is why managing your online reputation as a hotelier is a crucial step to avoiding potential negative reviews. Understanding where your weak points are and how to improve them before they become a problem is one of the first places to start. 

In this article we’ll look at the impact of bad hotel reviews, the reasons why guests leave negative reviews, how to respond, and how to avoid getting bad reviews altogether.

Table of contents

The impact of bad hotel reviews

It has been shown that 35% of internet users would think twice about booking if they found more negative than positive reviews about a hotel online. Furthermore, a hotel risks losing 22% of its bookings due to negative reviews. This is catastrophic for a hotel’s reputation because it will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in bookings, and as a result, overall revenue will go down. In peak season, a bad review can translate into several thousands of dollars’ loss in traffic and bookings generated by online sites such as TripAdvisor.

On TripAdvisor or on other OTA sites, reviews are available in a breadth of languages. A negative review in any single language could have a global impact. For example, a negative review in French would not only impact the French market in France, but also in other French-speaking countries such as Canada. This could thereby lead to lost bookings across this language market. Since negative reviews cannot be deleted, this negative feedback has the potential to damage your global online reputation indefinitely.

Top reasons why guest leave negative reviews

Every guest has different needs or expectations that they want to have met by a hotel experience, and sometimes without proper guest management a hotel can fall short of these expectations. Now that we understand the impact of bad hotel reviews, let’s take a look at the top reasons why this happens.

Overall bad service

There is no excuse for bad service in the hospitality industry. In a customer-facing role, your biggest asset is your human resources, so making sure the front desk is trained on what is proper service for your hotel and that they are able to deal with any kind of complaint or problem is key to avoiding bad reviews. 

If you have a hotel front desk software like the one Mews offers, make sure your staff use this software to enhance the customer experience, understanding guest profiles and tracking tasks that need to be done. You can also use the software to message between your staff about important things that need to be taken care of such as room maintenance or housekeeping. 

If the steps outlined above are not followed, this can lead to an overall bad experience where guests feel like they are not being prioritized and issues that need to be taken care of in their rooms are not being taken care of, which could then mean a bad hotel review.

Bad service could also be a result of a less than perfect welcome, a staff member who treats guests with an attitude, or even if guests have to ask for something to be done over and over. This lack of coordination between the operations can be potentially very harmful to the overall service perception.

Billing mistakes 

There’s nothing more frustrating for a guest than being charged more than what they should pay. Maybe a discount wasn’t applied to the final bill, maybe there was a problem during their stay and one of your staff members said they would comp a night’s stay, and then this wasn’t taken care of. Whatever it is, billing mistakes cannot happen; this is one of the main reasons for bad reviews.

Wait times

Having a delay during check-in or check out or other services is another cause of a bad review. Imagine after a long flight and your guest has requested an early check-in and then their room isn’t ready when they arrive. When guests are tired or under stress from a long trip it’s a common reason that they can have a negative experience that they later will share on a review site. 

Room not up to par

Your hotel’s main asset is its rooms and they should be impeccable. If maintenance is left to the last minute or should the rooms be missing supplies, this is a strong motivation for negative reviews. Another motive for bad reviews is if there is a discrepancy between the pictures of the room online and what it looks like in person. 

How to respond to bad hotel reviews

If you get a bad hotel review, don’t ignore it. Instead, you should respond to the review and apologize for what went wrong.

First, thank the guest for taking the time to write the review. Whether it’s positive or negative, the important thing is recognizing the guest’s feedback is valuable to your hotel. Then you should apologize for what happened and don’t make excuses. Be sure to address the guest by name, and recognize where you fell short, and what plans you as a hotelier have in mind to implement to make sure whatever happened doesn’t happen again. 

As a final step, if you have access to their personal information, send a follow-up email and offer a discount or free night’s stay to counteract the negative experience. The guests still might not want to come back but at least they won’t be left with that sour taste in their mouths.

What should you do to avoid bad reviews?

There is a lot you can do to avoid bad reviews. Let’s look at some tips one by one.

Listen and apply feedback

Be attentive to guests throughout their experience; that way you can catch shortcomings before they turn into a negative review. Make it clear that their wellbeing matters to the hotel. If a guest has a problem or gives you negative feedback, make sure to resolve the issue immediately and then let the guest know what you did to apply their suggestion. For instance, if their room was missing an extra blanket, send up a courtesy bottle of wine with the missing blanket. Little details will turn negative thoughts into positive ones.

Be proactive

Don’t wait for guests to tell you what’s wrong; check in frequently with them to see how they're doing and if they need anything. However, it’s a fine line between being annoying and letting them know you’re there if they need you. Fine tune your procedures so that there is a protocol in place to work on guest satisfaction. You can also use Mews’ hotel data analytics to fine tune your daily operations and keep track of historical data.

Provide an optimal guest experience

As always, do your absolute utmost to provide an optimal guest experience from the pre-trip through to the post trip. Make sure your pre-arrival emails find the right tone and set expectations that you can meet. 

See how the guest behaves when they check in so you can judge what kind of service they are expecting. Do they have a lot of questions? Check in regularly with that guest and make sure to answer all their questions. Most importantly of all, your staff should be friendly and helpful and rooms and other amenities should be above-par. 

Do online reputation management

As we’ve mentioned before, make sure to respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative. Take some time before responding to a negative review as you never want to do it in the heat of the moment, but rather once you’ve had time to ponder the situation about what went wrong and what you could do better. If you can follow all of the above suggestions, the chances of a bad review will be mitigated. 


We’ve outlined the top reasons why guests leave negative reviews, how to handle them and how to avoid them. With the proper reputation management you can use reviews to make improvements where necessary and keep striving for optimal service, turning potentially negative reviews into opportunities for improvement.