Sooner or later you are bound to receive a negative review or two. Yes, these will sting a bit at first, but in the end they can become a valuable tool to help you improve your business and hone your customer relationship skills.

But how should you respond? What should you say, if anything?

Here are a few tips on how to respond to negative guest reviews:

Don’t be too hasty in your response.

A wise maxim in general, but especially true here. An aggrieved customer has to be addressed with a cool head.

Be objective.

Negative feedback can present a valuable opportunity. Try to separate the facts from the emotion of the guest criticism. Take note and plan to prevent the next complaint by fixing the problem. Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention and let them know how and when it will be fixed.

Refute false information and correct inaccuracies.

Posting a gently and diplomatically worded correction when misrepresented online can neutralize the effect of a poor review. In the case of blatant falsehoods you can also contact the site administrator and request that the posting be removed, although many sites have very strict criteria for removal.

Show you care.

You can further reduce the impact of a negative review by expressing regret that the customer had a poor experience, including an apology if it seems appropriate.  On third-party sites this is also an opportunity to publicly express your commitment to a positive customer experience and to present a professional and conscientious public persona.

Reply selectively.

While you may feel the need to address every negative comment, it’s a good idea to post responses selectively. One reason why travelers rely on these sites is that they contain objective reviews from other travelers. You don’t want to be seen as trying to dominate the conversation or being overly defensive. Feel free to disregard rude or irrational guest reviews – most people can see through these for what they are.

Overall, keep the message simple — thank you for the business and your feedback. If the reviewer perceives you as being disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance he or she will get angry and make the situation worse.

Take this opportunity to establish a deeper relationship with your guest and maybe even change their perspective for the better.