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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Pino

Bad Reviews: Prevent Them and Deal With Them

There is no industry in the world that relies on reviews more than tours and attractions, so getting and managing reviews is a key skill for operators looking to grow their business. FACT: Our data, compiled from several tour and activity operators around the world, show that 97% customers will rate their experience positively. Nonetheless, reviews online usually tell a different story. Why? Well, because an angry customer is 7x more likely to review a business online, than a happy customer.

So how do we prevent bad reviews from going online?

1) You need to let your customers know how they can contact your business BEFORE they even arrive.

  • This might seem obvious, but a lot of customers don't actually know who or where to call if they are disappointed about their experience. Maybe they booked through an OTA and they didn't get your company's details? Maybe they booked diretly through your website, but didn't find any phone numbers there?

  • Include your phone number and customer service email address on your booking confirmation email, on your vehicles (if you have them) and on any printed material you give out to customers.

  • Send them text reminders before their tour or simply give them a call. Make sure they know you care and how to reach you, if needed.

2) Ask customers about their experience AFTER their activity or tour is over.

Make sure you focus not only on getting more positive reviews, but also on preventing bad reviews and the algorithm behind TripAdvisor and Google will reward you highly. Taking the steps above will significantly reduce the amount of bad reviews on your profiles, but there's always going to be on that fall through the cracks. So what do you do when you receive a negative review?

Dealing with negative reviews effectively is the art of Reputation Management.

Soliciting many reviews makes it a near certainty that at some point a negative review will be posted to the public. However, in the digital era, where any potential new customers can see the full correspondence between business and reviewer, a bad review can become an opportunity to show you care – and that you’re willing to take action to save the relationship.

Consider the following points from a recent TripAdvisor survey:

  • 79% of travelers said personalized responses from owners make reviews more useful, highlighting the importance of management responses.

  • 89% of travelers said a thoughtful response to a negative review improved their impression of a business, showing the effectiveness of owners responding to all types of reviews.

  • 84% of travelers said polite and respectful response from business owners is important to them when reading reviews, and as a result, they plan a better trip.

There are a few tips to keep in mind if you find yourself dealing with a negative review.

Keep a level head

People write bad reviews for a whole host of reasons that do not equate to a substandard operation or any addressable problem with employees. Both customers and employees have bad days and unforeseen situations do arise. It’s important to be realistic, a bad review is not the end of the world.

That being said...

What is there to learn from the review to help you reduce bad experiences going forward? Bad reviews provide clues to small tweaks in your offering or operation that may provide great value at minimal cost. Bill Gates said “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Maintaining that mindset, and growing from criticism, can do wonders for your business. A lot of times, bad reviews can be prevented by managing expectations BEFORE the customer arrives. Consider these examples:

Complaint: "The tour was too long"

Possible Solutions:

  • Remind customers ahead of time to bring comfortable clothes and shoes.

  • Train your tour guides to recommend customers to take a break once in a while and let them seat down.

Complaint: "We didn't get to see the mountains you see in the pictures"

Possible Solutions:

  • Let your customers know in the tour description and through tour reminders that weather might affect some of the sights on the plan. And of course also tell them what you will do to ensure they still enjoy it.

  • Train your tour guides to begin the tour introduction reminding them that you don't control the weather and that it will take some luck for them to enjoy the views on the pictures.

Address the review

Make reasonable attempts to rectify the situation. In the case that there was an error or oversight on behalf of your company, a voucher or refund can do wonders for goodwill. Since this can be posted as a public response, future customers will see how you handled the situation. It is another opportunity to impress them.

Stand your ground

In some cases, a review is outright rude or unfair. It is important to be diplomatic in this situation, but certainly make it known that unnecessary rudeness will not be tolerated in your operation. This is most important when one, or a group, of your valued employees is targeted by an unhappy customer. Making sure that you publicly back them goes a long way for morale among the team and should earn the respect of any future customers who see the classy way you handled the situation.

Elements of a great response The team at reviewtrackers has analyzed many negative reviews and are the experts on effective reputation management. Here is their seven-step template to form the basis for your publicly posted responses:

  1. Answer each review directly.

  2. Acknowledge that you appreciate reviews of all types by saying “thank you”.

  3. Apologize and sympathize, to make each reviewer feel they’ve been heard.

  4. Take responsibility and reinforce that you do expect a high standard of performance.

  5. Make things right. Whether that’s a refund, future discount or just an apology is up to you to decide based on the circumstance.

  6. Take the issue offline, if there is additional follow up needed.

  7. Ask for a second chance, and you may turn the negative into a positive.

Here are a few examples of well-crafted responses for inspiration:

This response leads with empathy and reinforces high standards of operation. |

This dentist does a great job of taking responsibility and defending his team.

This is the ideal outcome – turning a negative review into a positive testimonial!

Remember, a negative review can be looked at as a great opportunity to learn, improve your operation and impress all stakeholders with your decisive and fair action. Following the above guidelines can help tour and attraction operators, and their staff, bounce back from a negative review – perhaps better than they started.


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