In the past decade, the growth of social media has not only made the world a smaller place, it has made the world of travel and tours much more accessible for those excited to see the world.
While this is a mostly positive aspect of our shrinking global community, it has also created more public systems of review and feedback. All tour and activity businesses have had to face upset or dissatisfied customers at some point, because pleasing everyone is an impossible feat.
The varying expectations of customers, and unforeseeable circumstances such as bad weather or accidental miscommunication, means that there will often be negative feedback in the world of tours. However, since public online negativity has become a problem, members of the industry have been pooling their wisdom in order to use these reviews as a way to thrive.
We at Booking Boss created this helpful post to give you a basic rundown on how to deal with any negative online reviews and comments your customers may throw from behind their screens.
Where do customers leave reviews?
Reviews can appear on numerous social media channels. Online feedback has stretched beyond casual comments on Facebook and Twitter. Websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp have a specific focus on customer experiences in order to discern the top tours and attractions for any particular area. This is where you are most likely to find negative reviews from your customers. If you haven’t already make sure you check out the 5 key ingredients of a great TripAdvisor page.
What should I do if I receive a negative review?
The first reaction of most tour companies upon first noticing negative feedback is to attempt to have it removed by those who run the forum where it appeared. This is an ineffective strategy, as the website owners are not obliged to remove any negative comments unless it is defamatory, or can be proven to be written by a competitor. Their purpose is to receive reviews - whether they be negative or positive. Tour operators have found that the most effective strategy is to tackle these reviews, and see if they can get them changed or updated by the unhappy customer. In doing so, it is important to reply in a timely manner and remember to be polite.
If you spot a negative review, a quick response shows that you care about customer experiences and rectifying your mistakes. The immediacy of online feedback allows you to consider and reassess your methods and ways, or to notify your staff about how they could improve. So before you get in a huff, make sure you consider what the comment said, and take action to make an improvement in your business.
How should I respond to negative comments?
The ability for a person to hide behind a keyboard and username tends to give people a sense of entitlement - they can be downright mean and nasty in their comments and still be safe and anonymous at home. As insulting as a negative review can be, it is important to keep a polite tone in your public response. Yes, public. A public response shows that your business is able to acknowledge mistakes and remain poised in the face of unfavourable reviews. Directly contacting your dissatisfied customer also shows extra care and attention, and this expression of concern and your desire to do whatever it takes to rectify your mistake is the most likely way to get the review updated. The customer may add to it, explaining the way you helped once you realise there was an issue, or even take their two star rating to a four or five. This could even contribute to future customer loyalty. Seeing these reviews as positively as possible will be the best way to help your tour business in the long run.
What should I avoid when responding to negative comments?
It is important to remember that meeting a response with continued negativity will only worsen the situation. The manager of a Glasgow hotel was fired in 2014 for the way she handled negative TripAdvisor comments. When customers complained about the quality of the venue, she responded with comments such as you pay little, you get little, and thanks for your money, sucker. Long may the idiot line continue. This resulted in a bad image for the hotel. This method of response should never be used when responding to reviews, as it can only end in negative consequences.
How else can I find out what people are saying about my tour?
Online trackers, such as Google Alerts is great free tool any business or person can use to monitor what’s being said about them online. And yes, this includes reviews or comments about your tour or attraction.
How can I avoid bad reviews online?
The accessibility of the internet makes avoiding these negative reviews virtually impossible. However, there are steps you can take to minimise them. By having feedback forms to hand out at the end of the tour, or any other method of receiving feedback that is less public, you can give your dissatisfied customers another platform to express themselves. These can be used just as effectively to reassess the way your business operates. However, it would be dangerous to assume nothing negative will appear online. Also, another great idea is just making sure you and your staff are creating memorable tour experiences that people want to boast about, not complain!
It is always important to consider what may appear online, making tracking and checking important. In order to manage these reviews, it is most important to remember to be polite and helpful. If possible, see these as a way to avoid further issues and grow as a tour business. The closer attention you pay to what’s being said in these reviews, the less likely negative ones will crop up.
If you want to discover more about working online with social media and your business download our on-demand 8 social steps to create the biggest impact for your tourism biz webinar.
Booking Boss is an online booking system for tour operators and attraction providers. Trusted by many in the tourism industry, Booking Boss is about getting you out of the spreadsheets and into the sun. We provide free education resources for operators like you, to make your business the best it can possibly be.