KIEV UKRAINE - MAY 16 2014: Man in a car planning a trip using Tripadvisor app on Apple iPhone 5S. Tripadvisor is a travel guide source providing reviews photos and advice for hotels and vacations.

Tripadvisor app on Apple iPhone 5S.

Why are online reviews important?

The tourism industry often sees online reviews as negative and something 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 to 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 travelers 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 them tells to customers you don’t care.  Responding to them tells the customer that you do care, but embracing them and using them to improve your business that’s the ultimate goal. Where else do you get all this business development advice for free!!

Handling negative reviews

So you embark on monitoring them, by setting up a Google alert...and then it happens a negative review, it’s bad, it doesn’t tell the whole story and what more everyone is going to think it’s the truth, it 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, remove the emotion, is the critcism valid? if it is, see it as an opportunity to improve your business. Fix the issue, thank the guest in your reply and let them know you’ve fixed it and don’t forget to upsell, with a “by the way”. If the criticism is not valid, write your reply and sleep on it, thank them for their review and apologise. Next focus on getting more positive reviews to push the negative to the bottom of the page. Keep a balanced perspective, but if you see a repeated negative review, act on it and address it.

How can you improve your online reviews?

Your customers are more likely to provide positive reviews with just and little encouragement from you and this in turn could improve your bottom line.

Let me explain how to go about it. You pride yourself on offering a great experience, you work hard to ensure the experience your guests have is the best you can offer, you train your staff, have process and policies in place to keep things running smoothly. Occasionally, you have the odd disgruntled customer but overall you’re pretty 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 them 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 guests after their stays and feedback is constantly monitored and analysed 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 traveller bookings

cycle

Most consumers will look at review sites before making a decision 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.
  • Commitment to solving problems when things go wrong and communicate.

These will reduce the likelihood of negative reviews. 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.

Learn how to better use Online reputation management in your Tourism Business

The Business improvement and Online reputation management learning hubs offer tutorials, support articles, webinars and the ability for members to ask a question via our support forum

About Wendy Smith

Wendy SmithWendy is the Head of Customer Service at the Tourism Tribe. With 30 years experience in the Tourism industry and a former small business owner herself, she brings a wealth of practical experience to the Tourism Tribe.

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