Dealing with Complaints and Negative Feedback

1 Flares 1 Flares × is pleased to announce their recent partnership with longtime vacation rental professional, Heather Bayer. In this new capacity, Heather will serve as the Director of Owner Community at, and provide vacation homeowners with a trusted voice to lean on for guidance and insight. Heather has been renting out her vacation homes for over 20 years and is the author of “Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit”.


Your property is pristinely presented, spotlessly clean, and in a wonderful location. You’ve left a gift basket and a nice note and feel totally confident your guests will love the place.  Then out of the blue you get a complaint or get negative feedback that seems to be entirely unjustified.  What do you do?  Here’s some tips to deal with complaints.

1. Don’t respond in anger – it’s easy to get defensive and adopt a ‘how dare they’ attitude.  If the complaint is made by telephone and comes as a complete surprise, take the details and say you will call them back.  This gives you time to evaluate the feedback and consider your position.  If it’s by email, the same applies.  Avoid the temptation to hammer out an indignant reply – give it a few hours then draft a more thoughtful response.  A good indicator is an adrenaline rush – your natural fight or flight reaction – if you are feeling that, it’s better to hold off for a while until you feel more balanced.

2. Acknowledge the complaint – accept that the issue belongs with the client and, providing you have delivered what was promised, you can react with empathy and understanding.  These issues often have underlying causes outside of your control – it’s like referred pain where a symptom in one part of the body creates pain in another.

3. Avoid becoming defensive – you will probably feel affronted by any complaint but if you can avoid taking the issue personally, it makes the situation much easier to deal with.  Reacting from a balanced and non-emotional perspective can resolve a problem in a shorter time with less stress.

4. Accept that people have different perceptions – this may create expectations based on incorrect assumptions and you will be held to blame.  We live in a culture where it is easier to pass blame off to someone else rather than take responsibility for a poor decision. For example, a guest complained about the lack of a beach at a property and wanted to leave.  There was no mention of a beach in the description of the property but a ‘sandy, shallow walkout to the water’ created an assumption that sand meant beach.

5. Deliver a solution – Before entering into lengthy arguments about the situation, consider the type of solution you want to offer. It may not make everyone happy, but think about how to make the outcome a healthy compromise all around.  Don’t try and score points or insist on being right – it’s really not worth it.

6. Recognize a serial complainer – Sadly there will always be people who have found that complaining works for them. They do this often so are skilled at creating stories that sound plausible, and do it in such a way that it’s difficult to establish how genuine the complaint is.  My next blog post will deal with serial complainers in more detail.


The bottom line is, you can reduce the risk of complaint and negative feedback with honesty, transparency, and a detailed description backed up with well written supplementary information.  Get that part right and you’ll have done your best.


Posted in Tips for property owners

One Response to Dealing with Complaints and Negative Feedback

  1. Pingback: How to Recognize a Serial Complainer | Vacation Home Rentals Blog

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *