Bad Hotel Reviews and Their Financial Impact

Calculating the Financial Implications of Unsatisfactory Guest Experiences on New Customer Acquisition

Calculating the Financial Implications of Unsatisfactory Guest Experiences on New Customer Acquisition
Article by
Bram Haenraets
Article update
February 28, 2024
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Table of Contents

In today's interconnected digital landscape, a single negative customer experience at a hotel can set off a chain reaction, eventually culminating in a damaging online review. For hoteliers, comprehending the vast implications of such adverse experiences is essential, yet often obscured by layers of intricacy. These incidents not only affect immediate revenue, but also ripple into areas like brand perception, operational costs, future guest loyalty, and most critically, the acquisition of new customers. This blog post hones in on this latter factor, highlighting the potential revenue losses stemming directly from unsavory experiences that lead potential guests to second-guess their booking decisions. While the overarching impact of a poor customer experience is immense, by concentrating on its role in influencing new customers, hoteliers can gain a clearer understanding and be better poised to tackle this central aspect of their reputation management.

The inverted impact of preventing one single bad review

When discussing the impact of negative reviews on a hotel's reputation and customer acquisition, it's intuitive to think that adding one more negative review to a hotel with many bad reviews would have less impact than adding it to a hotel with very few. This concept is often described as diminishing returns: the more negative reviews a hotel has, the less additional damage one more will do. Conversely, the fewer negative reviews a hotel has, the more damage a new negative review will inflict.

But there's an inverse consideration when it comes to preventing a bad review, especially in relation to how many negative reviews a hotel already has:

  1. Hotels with Few Negative Reviews: If a hotel has very few negative reviews, preventing an additional bad review can be paramount. For these hotels, their pristine reputation is a major selling point. A single negative review can cause a disproportionate amount of damage, as it stands out more prominently against a backdrop of positive feedback. Therefore, the benefit of preventing that review is significantly high.
  2. Hotels with Many Negative Reviews: For hotels already burdened with many negative reviews, the immediate impact of one more might seem relatively minor. However, the opportunity and benefit here lie in the potential to start turning the tide. Preventing a negative review in such cases can signify the beginning of a positive trend or a change in operational practices. Furthermore, for hotels with numerous negative reviews, the areas of dissatisfaction are often more evident, making it easier to identify and address root causes. Consequently, the chances of preventing multiple bad reviews increase. So, while the impact of preventing a single bad review might be less pronounced in immediate revenue terms compared to a hotel with few negative reviews, the overall potential for reputation recovery and long-term revenue impact can be much greater.
The inverted impact of preventing 1 bad review for hotels with a varying number of total negative reviews per month

In essence, the inverted impact suggests that while the immediate revenue implications of preventing a negative review might differ based on a hotel's existing review profile, the strategic importance remains high across the board. For top-performing hotels, it's about maintaining their high standards, and for lower-performing ones, it's the potential start of a much-needed positive transformation.


Hotel Size and Occupancy:

  • We’re considering a 100-room hotel with an average occupancy rate of 66%.

Revenue Metrics:

  • The Average Daily Rate (ADR) for the hotel is pegged at $125.

Review Patterns:

Guest Breakdown:

  • The guest distribution is split evenly, with 50% being new guests and the remaining 50% returning patrons.

Influence of Online Reviews:

  • Online reviews play a significant role in a potential guest's decision-making process, influencing 67.7% of decisions, as per Moz (2015).

Review Impact Metrics: Depending on the review profile of the hotel, the impact of preventing one negative review varies. Using industry data from Moz (2015), the potential guest loss due to negative reviews are (for a hotel with a pristine reputation):

  • 1 negative review results in a loss of 22% of new customers.
  • 3 negative reviews escalate this loss to 59%.
  • 4 or more negative reviews can lead to a staggering loss of up to 70% of new potential customers.

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Number of bookings influenced by online reviews

For our 100-room hotel at a 66% occupancy rate, it fills up 66 rooms each day. That's 1,980 rooms over a month. With the guest breakdown, 990 rooms are occupied by new guests each month. Considering the significant influence of online reviews, 670 of these bookings (67.7% of 990) are influenced by them.

The Costly Impact of One Negative Review

The damaging effects of a single negative review can be quantified, giving us a clearer picture of its financial repercussions. Let's delve into the arithmetic based on the data provided:

For our 100-room hotel, with an average monthly occupancy rate of 67%, we find that each month, 67 rooms are occupied daily, totaling 2,010 room bookings a month. Given that 50% of the guests are new, this translates to 1,005 new guests each month. Furthermore, considering the influence of online reviews on 67.7% of these new bookings, 679 bookings are directly swayed by online feedback.

This is how the math breaks down: The very first negative review in a month for a hotel affects 22% of the 679 bookings by new guests next month that are influenced by reviews, which equates to 149 potential guests deterred. Now, considering the Average Daily Rate (ADR) of $125: 149 rooms x $125 (ADR) = $18,625

The influence of the first 4 bad reviews per month is even more daunting. They can cause a loss equivalent to 70% of the revenue impacted by new guests, which amounts to a whopping $59,533.69 per month.

This stark arithmetic underscores the significance of each review, positive or negative. In a world where a hotel's reputation can be significantly bolstered or besmirched by online feedback, the financial ramifications of even one adverse review are evident. Hoteliers must, therefore, be ever-vigilant, continually striving to elevate guest experiences, and address concerns promptly to minimize the odds of a negative review. The potential revenue at stake is too substantial to be ignored.

The potential revenue impact of preventing a single negative review

Calculations are based on Different Scenarios: Considering hotels with different proportions of negative reviews:

  • Scenario Hotel A (3 negative reviews - 5% negative feedback)
  • Scenario Hotel B (7 negative reviews - 10% negative feedback)
  • Scenario Hotel C (14 negative reviews - 20% negative feedback)

Scenario A - impact of preventing 1 bad review for a hotel with 3 negative reviews/month:

The potential guest loss difference between having 1 and 3 negative reviews is 37% (59% - 22%).

Breaking down this 37% to understand the incremental impact of each review, we get 18.5% (37% ÷ 2).

Thus, for a hotel with three negative reviews, preventing one of those negative reviews could mean safeguarding 18.5% of its new customers influenced by online reviews for that month. In revenue terms, this equates to:

Revenue retained per month = 670 rooms (new guests influenced by reviews) x 18.5% x $125 (ADR) = $15,494 per month.

Scenario B - impact of preventing 1 bad review for a hotel with 7 negative reviews/month:

The potential guest loss difference between having 3 and 7 negative reviews is 11% (70% - 59%).

Since we're analyzing the difference one review makes for a hotel receiving 7 negative reviews, the average impact per additional review between 3 and 7 reviews is 11% divided by 4 = 2.75%.

So, for a hotel with seven negative reviews, avoiding one negative review could help in retaining an additional 2.75% of its new customers influenced by online reviews for that month. Translated into monetary terms:

Revenue retained per month = 670 rooms (new guests swayed by reviews) x 2.75% x $125 (ADR) = $2,303 per month.

Scenario C - impact of preventing 1 bad review for a hotel with 14 negative reviews/month:

The change in potential guest loss, when having more than 3 negative reviews but less than 14 (since our previous threshold for 70% loss was at 4 or more reviews), is 11% (70% - 59%).

When assessing the influence of one review for a hotel with 14 negative reviews, the impact per additional review between 4 and 14 reviews is 11% divided by 10 = 1.1%.

Therefore, for a hotel that generally receives fourteen negative reviews, sidestepping a single negative review could potentially retain an additional 1.1% of its new clientele that are influenced by online reviews for that month. In terms of revenue:

Revenue retained per month = 670 rooms (new customers influenced by reviews) x 1.1% x $125(ADR) = $921 per month.

Limitations of this study

Besides above assumptions which might not reflect your specific hotel's numbers, our research has another important limitation. Our estimates show the financial benefit of preventing just one negative review. It's crucial to remember that hotels with more negative feedback (like the one with 20% bad reviews) inherently have more areas needing attention. Therefore, they have a greater potential for improvement. Addressing key issues in such hotels could prevent not just one, but multiple negative reviews. So, while our calculations are conservative, the real-world monetary benefits for a "high-complaint" hotel could be substantially higher when problems are tackled proactively.


In the intricate web of the hospitality industry, every guest experience carries weight, potentially tipping the scales of a hotel's online reputation and, by extension, its revenue stream. As our analysis underscores, even a single negative experience that results in a detrimental review can have cascading financial consequences, particularly in terms of new customer acquisition. For hoteliers, understanding these dynamics offers more than just a lesson in revenue calculation—it offers a roadmap. By proactively addressing areas of concern, especially in hotels with a higher propensity of negative feedback, there lies an opportunity to not just mitigate losses but to amplify gains. The digital age is unforgiving of missteps but equally rewarding for those who listen, adapt, and prioritize their guests. Moving forward, it's imperative for hotels to invest in enhancing guest experiences, as the return on such an investment is clear—satisfied guests, positive reviews, and a robust bottom line.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How does one negative review impact hotel revenue?

One negative review can deter up to 22% of new customers, translating to a significant revenue loss, potentially costing a hotel with a $125 ADR about $18,625 from the affected bookings.


Is preventing a negative review more crucial for hotels with fewer bad reviews?

Yes, for hotels with few negative reviews, each additional bad review can disproportionately harm their reputation, making the prevention of even a single negative review critical to maintaining their positive image and revenue.


What's the benefit of preventing negative reviews for hotels with many bad reviews?

Preventing negative reviews in hotels with many bad reviews marks the start of improving service quality. It has a less immediate revenue impact but significant long-term benefits for reputation recovery and potential revenue growth, potentially saving $921 per prevented review.