Clearly, responding to guest reviews is a hot topic! We had a record-breaking 1,000 registrants from around the world for our latest webinar, and the questions came in fast and furious. Here are answers to a few from our presenters Daniel Edward Craig and Josiah Mackenzie.
“Can we suggest guests post a review on a specific site?” – Sandra M.
JM: Yes – it’s a good way to build your overall visibility on review sites. What I recommend is looking at a summary of where your reputation stands on each review site. Here’s how ReviewPro clients look at their presence across more than 100 sources in 36 languages:
Once you understand your feedback distribution, you can try various things to incentivize more positive reviews on specific sites. You could just ask guests. You may provide a different sort of follow-up for guests coming through certain booking source. But however you decide to do this, be intentional about how you build your web presence in this area.
“If you resolve an issue with a private message, what should you say in your public management response? ‘Please check your inbox’?” – Alexander P.
DC: From what I’ve heard it’s rare to receive a response to a private message. Bear in mind that while you’re addressing your public response to the reviewer, your real audience is all the travel shoppers trying to decide where to stay. I suggest saying something like, “I have sent you a private message and look forward to discussing this matter with you further.” This shows that you’re listening and trying to resolve the issue.
“What is the best method of dealing with reviews from a couple years ago?” –Mark R.
JM: Begin by explaining any changes – large or small – that have taken place since the review was written. In many cases, the cause of old complaints may have been addressed by a renovation or a change in staffing or some sort of product or service upgrade. Be clear and communicate this when responding to older reviews.
While you may wonder about the value of responding to review that is 2-3 years old, it’s important to do because any piece of guest feedback could come up in the search engine results page. Setting the record straight now is the key part of defending your reputation and protecting your overall web presence.
“What do you suggest doing when you request a review site take down a clearly fake review and they refuse?” – Camilo O.
DC: The integrity of reviews is as important to review sites as it is to travelers and hotels. That said, disputing a review is no guarantee it will be taken down. TripAdvisor wants proof, and that’s not always easy to provide. If it’s blatantly false, be persistent. In the meantime, post a response to set the record straight.
In your response express concern. “We have no record of this incident and take such matters seriously” or “We were surprised by your comments.” Don’t accuse or provoke. Reviewers can’t respond to management responses on TripAdvisor, but they can take up their gripes on other social networks.
At some point you may have to let it go. Focus on generating positive reviews to push the false one down. Misinformation is a natural product of social media, but in the long run the wisdom of crowds prevails.
“Is it necessary to respond to every good review?” – Agnes B.
JM: No. But recognizing your happiest guests should be a priority since advocates are golden in this social media era where feedback from other consumers carries more weight than anything you can say as a hotel company.
A few reminders when responding to positive feedback:
- Thank them – they’re helping you
- Share the excitement: “We are thrilled …”
- Keep responses varied by commenting on specifics: “I was particularly happy to read your comments about…”
- Say you look forward to welcoming them back
“What if the review is about a third party vendor based on your premises?” –Rashmi C.
DC: It depends on the circumstances, but if the vendor has a distinct name it may qualify for a separate listing, in which case you can request to have reviews moved over. If it’s a mixed review that mentions your hotel, you’re probably stuck with it.
I asked Kevin Carter at TripAdvisor about this a few months ago, and here’s his response: “[Hotel] restaurants are normally listed separately. That way, they appear in the “Restaurants” list when users are looking for someplace to eat … Once it’s listed, the reviews that are only about the Restaurant would be moved over. It would need to be a Restaurant that’s open to the public and has a name. (Example – we wouldn’t list a B&B as a Restaurant even though they serve food because dining is for guests only.)”
Travelers typically don’t distinguish among brands within a hotel; they expect consistent quality and service throughout. If a vendor isn’t upholding your standards, the issue needs to be addressed directly with the vendor.
“One of the most common complaints we cannot solve are about location. How do we deal with these types of reviews?” – Fernando V.
JM: Location is always difficult because not many hotels can pick up and move to another place!
What I often find is when you look at the sales and marketing material for hotels that received a lot of location complaints, they are usually – intentionally or unintentionally – misrepresenting the location of the property. If you say your hotel is very close to a popular tourist attraction that really takes a long time to get to, that can spark a lot of location complaints. So be very careful on how you’re describing your property’s location – especially in proximity to other areas.
“Should we apologize for high price complaints when we have done nothing wrong?” – Karl M.
DC: Pricing complaints are often less about price than perception of value. If a guest feels we didn’t offer good value, we share responsibility. Maybe we’re overselling the property or dumping rooms at low rates and attracting travelers unused to our prices. If you fail to deliver on expectations you set, an apology is in order. Otherwise there’s no need. Remember, however, that perception is reality. An apology costs us nothing, and it’s sometimes all the traveler wants.
For more review tips check out From Pricing Complaints to Personal Attacks: How to Respond to Challenging Guest Reviews.
And don’t forget to enter our Review Response Contest for a chance to win a free digital strategy session with Josiah or Daniel.