How to Tackle Bad Reviews

TripAdvisor’s Country Manager for India, Nikhil Ganju takes us through what hoteliers should think about when looking at reviews on their property and tips on how to maintain a positive reputation online.

REVIEW AND other social media sites are essential tools for many travellers who are increasingly using them to share their customer experiences online and to research future trips.

Travellers are keen to find something special, a unique experience they will remember fondly and tend to seek out reviews from other travellers like them to ensure they choose the right property for their trip. While travellers tend to know what they’re getting when they choose a branded hotel, with independent hotels there is more of an unknown factor. For that reason, reviews become critical for independent and boutique hotels – they give potential guests an idea of what they can expect before they book.

Every hotel has issues, even the best ones. Even though, the hoteliers go out of their way to satisfy the customers, it’s impossible to satisfy each guest every time. Hospitality providers on TripAdvisor are passionate about their businesses and customers hence, a bad review can be discouraging.

Here are three things to think when managing and responding to reviews, especially the negative ones:

Review What’s Happened

You’ve just finished reading a bad review. Take a deep breath. If needed, walk away for five minutes. Then look at the review objectively with your team. What was the core problem that your guest experienced? Is this the first time you’ve seen this feedback or is a trend developing? Understanding the background situation can help you identify the root cause of any problem.

Incorporate the Feedback

Once you have some background, develop a strategy with your staff on specific improvements that need to be made. Come up with an action plan for what your property will do and which team member will take the lead. If the issue is something you can’t fix, consider how to better-set expectations for guests, perhaps with updates to your website. Either way, be sure to monitor future reviews to make sure the same problems don’t come up again.

Complete a Management Response

Write Management Responses to bad reviews as soon as possible. Your response explains the review to other potential guests on your property page. Be sure to share details of the action plan you’ve developed in your response. And don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. The most important thing your response should do is to answer unknown questions for future guests that the original review implied.

It’s always recommended to embrace negative reviews because it allows you to respond and highlight the changes and improve guest experience. The guests will also recognise and appreciate the hotel’s interest and the fact they run a respectful, attentive and thoughtful business.

It is also essential to respond in a manner that can make prospective guests think highly of the management – often time, this can help minimize any damage caused to the hotel’s reputation.

The tips below can help ensure that the hotel maintains a positive reputation and this can sometimes also help repair the relationship with an unhappy reviewer.

Respond quickly: A timely response is expected and appreciated. It shows you are attentive and receptive to feedback, and it leaves a lasting impression

Keep the tone professional, whatever the concern: Whether the review is critical or glowing, your reply should always be polite and professional, just as you would handle any other customer service reply.

The vast majority of people recognise that not all customers raise reasonable concerns, and that it’s almost impossible to please everyone all of the time.

They will give you a lot of credit for offering a courteous and thoughtful explanation, especially when the criticism is unwarranted. This is your chance to set the record straight.

Avoid jargon: Don’t be tempted into using online jargon. The use of ALL CAPS, HTML tags or excessive typographic symbols can appear abrasive or result in miscommunication.

Highlight positive changes and updates: Use the opportunity to communicate new improvements you’ve made to your business. If you’ve addressed a situation that has generated comments from customers, this is your chance to state that you’ve taken their feedback seriously and made positive changes.

Be careful of individual privacy: Your responses should never contain the personal information of any person, including names, addresses, phone numbers or other information that may be used to identify an individual.

Be original: Customers don’t respond well to stock answers. They appreciate an individually tailored response, because they will realise that you are addressing their particular situation.

It is tempting to post material from other sources that support your point of view, but customers prefer direct and unique comments from you. It’s especially important to avoid posting correspondence from another guest.

Show gratitude: Gratitude builds goodwill. Management responses are great opportunities to tell guests and customers that you are thankful for their positive comments, as well as their constructive feedback.

The Internet has revolutionised the way consumers engage with businesses and more often than not, when people go online to share their opinions, they are just hoping to be heard in some way. 

This opportunity to take ownership of your presence and engage in conversation with them may not just change their mind about you, but may win you more fans (and more business)!

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