Consider online reviews as free business improvement advice!
Consider online reviews as free business improvement advice!
August 31, 2018

Consider online reviews as free business improvement advice!

Why are online reviews important?

The tourism industry often sees online reviews as negative and something that needs to be dealt with. After all, the old adage still applies, doesn’t it: consumers are more likely to comment when they have something negative to say. Apparently not, especially when it comes to social media. Consumers like to share their experience online good or bad.  Your business now has a giant magnifying glass on it and if you’re smart you’ll use this to your advantage.

Here are some figures you might find interesting!

92% of travellers indicate that their decisions are highly influenced by reviews and other user generated content. (e-tailing group)
38 is the average number of websites travellers visit before booking a trip. (Expedia Media Solutions/Compete)
53% of consumers say they won’t book a hotel if it has zero reviews. (PhoCusWright)
33% of travellers changed their primary choice during the booking process after using social media and review sites. (World Travel & Tourism Council)

Managing online reviews is a choice, you can;

Ignore them (not recommended)
Monitor them (again not recommended)
Respond to them
Embrace them
Ignoring or just monitoring online reviews shows customers that you simply don’t care.  And while responding shows that you care, embracing those reviews and using them to improve your business is the ultimate goal. Where else do you get all this business development advice for free!!

Handling negative reviews

So, you embark on monitoring reviews, by setting a Google alert…and then it happens a negative review; it is bad, and it doesn’t tell the whole story! What makes things worse is that readers will believe it to be true and it is sitting right at the top where everyone can see it!
Don’t panic and don’t change your strategy, see it as an opportunity and here’s why. Firstly, set emotions aside and ask yourself “is the criticism valid?” if it is, then this is an opportunity for you to improve your business. Fix the issue, thank the guest in your reply and let them know you’ve fixed it. If the criticism is not valid, write your reply and sleep on it, thank them for their review and apologize. Next, focus on getting more positive reviews to push the negative one to the bottom of the page. Keep a balanced perspective and if you see a repeated negative review, then you should take action and address the issue.

How can you improve your online reviews?

Your customers are more likely to provide positive reviews with just a little encouragement from you and this in turn could improve your bottom line.
Let me explain how to go about it. You pride yourself in offering great experiences, you work hard, you train your staff, have process and policies in place to keep things running smoothly. Occasionally, you have the odd unhappy customer, but overall, you’re satisfied with how things are going.
So, why not encourage your customers to provide reviews on whatever platform they choose? You don’t actively source them but encourage them by training your staff to ask for feedback and reviews at checkout or providing links to the platforms in your thank you email.

How positive reviews can influence revenue

Successful tourism businesses employ a cycle of customer engagement.
They encourage reviews from customers and guests after their stays and feedback is constantly monitored and analyzed They then make improvements based on customer feedback
Improvements lead to more satisfied guests, better reviews and higher visibility online
Enhanced visibility results in more traveler bookings

Most consumers will look at review sites before deciding to purchase and most of them have a common-sense approach. They look for patterns and repeated negativity and would probably dismiss the “odd” negative comment as someone having a bad day!

The Keys to Success

In summary;
Develop a culture obsessed with operational & service excellence.
Focus on excellence when it comes to the guest experience.
Consistently exceed expectations & deliver great experiences.
Communicate with guests and commit to solving problems when things go wrong.
Finally, if you have a particular issue with online reviews why not share them in our member forums? By doing that you’ll get varying perspectives from other members on how they address similar issues.