Have you ever paid attention to the responses that hostels leave to reviews left about them on Hostelworld or Tripadvisor?
In our past four months of travel, I’ve found that these responses left by hostel owners, managers, or workers to reviews on hostelworld of tripadvisor often do more harm than good.
When I read in a review that a staff member at the hostel was rude, for instance, it ever so slightly lessens my chances of choosing that hostel. Maybe the staff member was having a bad day. Maybe the person leaving the comment was actually the rude one. You never know. But when I see sarcastic, rude, and/or accusing responses from hostel owners/managers on Hostelworld or Tripadvisor reviews my chances of staying at the hostel drop dramatically.
Not sure what I mean by sarcastic, rude or accusing responses? Here are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. These all happen to be from the same hostel, but unfortunately it’s not an isolated issue.
Pretty bad, right?
Clearly these reviews weren’t great to start with, but the owner only made things worse with his replies.
In my search, I’ve had trouble finding an example of a hostel that replies well to a negative comment. It seems that most don’t reply all, and those who do reply often don’t reply well.
Here’s an example of a good reply to a review from Local Hostel Manaus. It’s professional and polite.
I think that if a hostel wants to reply to a review they should always start by thanking the person for their review and mention how the review will help them improve. Local Hostel does just this in the above reply.
When it comes to responding to negative reviews, I think that hostels should never argue or get overly defensive. A simple apology and, when appropriate, a non defensive explanation will be much more likely to attract future guests. A person complains about the water going out? Thank them for their comment and mention that you’re sorry the water went out and and maybe note that it was a citywide problem. Tell them about efforts to work on the problem if any have been made, and thank them again. But, never, never, accuse the guest of being dramatic, of expecting too much, of being at fault for choosing the wrong hostel etc… even if that’s what you’re thinking.
In the end, when it comes to replies to hostel reviews, it seems that what our moms and dads told us as kids still rings true: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.