Handling Bad Reviews Online - A Guide for Hotel Managers
Up to 80 percent of people consult online reviews before booking a room. What are they going to think when they look up your hotel? You want more reservations, not less, and even just one bad review can be very bad for business. As a hotel manager, here are some things you can do to handle negative reviews online.
Closely Monitor Your Reviews
The sooner you learn about a bad review, the better you’ll be able to deal with it. If you haven’t claimed your hotel listing on all major review sites, like Google Places, Yelp, and Trip Advisor, do so now. After providing proof that you’re who you say you are, you’ll be able to update information on your hotel’s profile, and you’ll be alerted whenever someone posts a new review.
Surveys have found that people are influenced not only by the reviews themselves, but how management responds to them. You should always write a public, sincere, considerate, and apologetic reply to bad reviews. Sometimes your reply might convince a reader to think better of your hotel despite the negative comments. Address the issues, but never do so in an aggressive way. If you are defensive or even rude, it will make readers think even less of your hotel.
Make It Right
Privately respond to bad reviewers, and do something to right the wrong whenever possible. Offering a future discount, merchandise, or a partial or full refund can satisfy the reviewer. They might change the bad review, or they might write a new, more positive one. Even if they don’t, it’s just good customer service and will reflect well on your hotel.
The best way to combat bad reviews is with good reviews. Do everything you can to encourage your guests to review your hotel. You can do it directly by asking the guests at checkout to rate your hotel online, and you could even provide them with instructions for how to do so (but not what to say). Also consider placing links or announcements that encourage reviews on the homepage for guest Internet access, on your website, and in any email correspondence you send to guests.
As extra incentive to leave a review, you can offer your guests some kind of reward for doing so. Consider offering them a discount on their next reservation, or some other type of voucher for a free service during their next stay. Not only will this help your hotel get good reviews, it will also help you get more business.
Prevention is the Best Policy
Finally, the best thing you can do to handle bad reviews online is to prevent them in the first place. Make excellent customer service your number one priority as manager, and do everything you can to ensure your employees help your guests have a great experience at your hotel. Strictly enforce service and behavior rules and expectations, and make sure your employees always ask guests how their experiences are and if there’s anything they can do to improve. Also try to do something unique that will stick out in people’s minds and impress them, like a complimentary drink.
Henry Collins is a hotel manager who works as a freelance writer when he has time. He often gives advice to other small business owners about review trackers.