Often we hear from independent properties that they are not on review sites like TripAdvisor because negative reviews damage their business. But research shows it’s actually more damaging not being on these sites.

Not only do TripAdvisor have 280 million unique visitors a month to take advantage of, but their reviews generated £2bn in visitor spending in the UK 2014. Research conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor found that 400,000 trips to the UK were made after viewing the site. 

This shows us that online reviews have a significant influence on users. In fact, a massive 89% of people are influenced by reviews. So, if your property is not found on a review site you are missing out on hundreds of potential guests.

Plus, if your main concern is negative reviews, the way you respond to reviews can actually help you generate more business! 79% of people we asked said they would actually agree with the manager’s response if a good response is made compare to the 64% that would be put off booking if they saw a defensive or aggressive response. 

So how should you reply to a negative comment?

  • Acknowledge and thank them for leaving the review.
  • Don’t get defensive.
  • If possible, explain what action will be taken to resolve the issue.
  • Take the response to private message, to resolve the problem.
  • If it is a problem with infrastructure issues, thank them for bringing it to your attention and say that you may consider changing in the future.

Here is a good example of how to respond to a negative review:

Thank you [customer’s name] for taking the time to let us know about your stay. I am sorry that the toilet flush in your room was loud. We will take action based on your review and we thank you for bringing it to our attention. Kind Regards [your name].

Diffuse the bomb before they leave a bad review

In an ideal world, you would be able to resolve any issues with your guest before they leave a less than favourable review.  It’s important to always be one step ahead with any kind of complaint.

However, on the odd occasion, a guest may be particularly hard to please during a stay at your property. The mattress is too hard for their liking, the curtains let too much light in, the bath fills up too slowly etc. And though this is rare, when this kind of situation happens, you have to know how to calm the customer down and get them back onside, at least as much as you can. Ideally, you want to deal with this as it’s happening, however on the odd occasion a guest may only raise these issues at the end of their stay.

In times such as these, there is still a chance to turn the situation around. Perhaps giving a discount off the bill, or something free is a good way of showing customers that you do really care about the quality of their stay, and that you want to fix any problems that may have arisen.  If it’s a repeat customer, you may want to offer a discount on their next visit. However: Do not give in to blackmail… we’ve all heard examples of guests demanding a discount at the end of their stay and using TripAdvisor as a weapon to get a cheaper rate for no reason at all. ONLY give a discount or freebie if the guest has a legitimate complaint.

Encourage great reviews

But, how do you inoculate yourself against the guests who use reviews as a weapon to get discounts? Well the best way is to encourage lots of positive reviews, if you have hundreds 4* or 5* reviews then one bad review won’t hurt you as much, it will look like an anomaly, you need quantity as well as quality.

How to encourage great reviews:

  • Place a reminder on the guests invoice to leave a review
  • Email guests 2-3 days after their stay to thank them for their business and ask them to leave a review
  • If a guest tells you they’ve had a great time and you have a good relationship just ask them if they could, explain honestly how important it is to you
  • But don’t impose, use your judgement on when to ask and if a guest isn’t keen there is no need to be pushy.

How do I respond to positive reviews?

  • Acknowledge and thank them for leaving the review.
  • Re-iterate the reviewer’s positive response and use it to upsell
  • Make the response personal.
  • Share the review on social media.

Here is a good way to respond to a positive review:

Thanks [customer’s name] for taking the time to let us know about your stay. I am pleased that you liked our breakfast options. We take pride in our breakfast selection and encourage guests to tell us what they like so we can accommodate their needs. Hope to see you again soon. [Your name]

Psst: Also by being on review sites like TripAdvisor you open up the possibility of being put forward for review based awards.