Nobody offering a product or service to the public wants to be given a bad review for what they sell or provide. If you’re a hotel owner, you’ll no doubt want every guest to go away singing your praises and recommending you to all of their friends and colleagues.However, this is unrealistic. No matter how much a brand strives to be the best, there will always be the odd complaint or gripe from someone – you can’t please all of the people all of the time, after all. But in the age of the internet when a throwaway comment is published for all to see (and there forever), what can be done about bad reviews? How can hotel marketers prevent negative comments from putting future guests off booking a stay?
Here’s some advice you could use to dilute the impact of a poor review – and perhaps even make such comments work in your favour. Don’t hide constructive criticismIf you vet reviews before publishing them, it’s tempting to want to bury the bad ones and put only the good online. This can look bad to guests, though, who might be suspicious if they just see glowing praise. Also, a recent study by Emory University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business discovered that brands were seen as more honest and wholesome if they received polite customer complaints than if they did not. You should therefore put up a mixture – although this leads us on to the next step. Respond to bad reviews Scathing comments might make you want to crawl under a rock and hide, but the best way to address them is to respond rather than ignore them completely. Do so professionally and calmly, firstly by thanking the person for their feedback and apologising for the issue they have encountered (or for their perceived slight if you don’t think there is an issue).
Next, tell them how you’re going to address their concerns – whether it’s by fixing a problem within the hotel or offering them a free night’s stay at a later date – and invite the reviewer to contact you directly so you can move forward. Following these steps not only placates the person who complained, but also demonstrates to others that you are proactive and take responsibility for problems. This looks good when so many complaints are sent via hotel social media and are therefore published for all to see; the original review is there, but so is the timely response. Always move the conversation offline If you are dealing with a review on Twitter, Facebook or another social channel, you can respond there initially by following the steps above and then, as we suggested, inviting the person to contact you directly.
However, never be tempted to go back and forth via a visible online channel like this, even if you think you’re being constructive. Not only does it give the reviewer more opportunities to write negative things, but it also ends up looking like an argument – and that’s not professional. Never react defensively Hotel owners will always feel protective of their properties, so any negative comment can really sting, particularly if you feel as though you’ve spent a lot of time and money getting things just so.
Similarly, bad reviews that you just don’t agree with can make you want to come out fighting and defend your accommodation. Remember, though, the old adage that the customer is always right. If someone criticises, for example, your decor, simply respond with an ‘I’m sorry you feel this way’ and assure the poster that the hotel takes all feedback on board.Never tell the person they’re wrong or get into a slanging match. It looks extremely unprofessional, might result in further negative publicity and, as has been in the case already, could even go viral and end up as a Buzzfeed article. Keep on top of review channels in order to have the opportunity to implement all of the tips above, you need to see negative reviews in the first place. This can be difficult in an age of so many different communications channels, but it’s vitally important. It is therefore a good idea to have at least one member of staff tasked with monitoring sites like Twitter and email accounts at all times, so that nothing slips through the net. This means you should be able to respond to anything negative within a few hours, or, at the very least, within a day. Technology can help you with this, so set up alerts using tools like Google or TalkWalker to flag up when anyone is talking about your business anywhere online. Make changes where necessary You might think your hotel is practically perfect in every way, but the fact is that if more than a few people make the same negative comment, then it might be you with the problem and not them. Don’t be too proud to accept their feedback and make alterations, as it can only improve your property in the long term.
For instance, if people complain that the showers have no power, could it be beneficial to replace them with new ones and then advertise the upgrade?Always ask yourself how you can improve, what you now know about your guests and how the hotel could operate differently in the future if necessary.Don’t let negative reviews hurt you personally – it’s purely business and could help you grow in the long run.