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Hospitality 101: How To Respond To Reviews

Posted on: August 27 2013 | Posted in: Client Help

Customers are online and talking about the hotel they stayed in, the restaurants they dined in and the tours they took while on their vacation. Other travelers are listening to their reviews and hoteliers, and other business owners need to join in the conversation or face the possibility of losing business because of bad reviews.

Hotels and restaurants can no longer ignore reviews without expecting to pay a high price. There are no more than 100 million travel reviews on TripAdvisor with 70 more posted every 60 seconds. Yelp has 42 million local reviews and counting. Consumers are using these and similar review sites before booking their hotel, making restaurant reservations and making other buying decisions.

[caption id="attachment_12832" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Example of a great management response. Names have been removed. Click for large image."]Example of a great management response. [/caption]

Where to start

Unless a hotel, restaurant or tourist attraction is brand new, it will already be listed on the major review sites.  A guest may have added the business, or the review site themselves may have created a listing for it. Either way, the first step is to claim or verify ownership of the business with the review site.

Each review site has their own system, some requiring more hoops than others, like mail or phone confirmation. Others just require a form to be filled out before the business owner can start responding to reviews.

After the business listing is verified, reviews need to be monitored at least once a week. If the business is receiving many reviews, then they should check in on them daily. Some sites like TripAdvisor can email business owners every time their hotel or restaurant receives a review.

How to handle negative reviews

No matter how professional or courteous the staff, how clean the hotel room was or how well prepared the food, all businesses receive negative reviews from time to time - some more often than others depending on their customer service and quality of their product.

Negative reviews hurt, but ignoring them won’t make them go away. In fact, ignoring them could hurt a business since, to the consumer, unanswered reviews make a business look like they don’t care.

Negative reviews should have responses that are professional, polite and brief. If possible,  the business should suggest a solution to the customer's issue or ask the customer to contact the business so that  the problem can be further investigated. If the issue can’t be resolved, then the business should explain why without using any hotel jargon or marketing speak. This is the business’s chance to create a human side to their corporation. The reviewers shouldn’t be attacked or blame for the problem. The owner needs to remember that potential guests will be reading the response.

When to ignore negative reviews

If the review is irrational, offensive or just doesn’t make sense, then businesses can ignore the review. It’s best to avoid arguing with someone that is just looking for a fight. Other travelers will understand and read between the lines. If the review is unfair, it can be disputed with TripAdvisor. If the review is fake (from someone that has clearly never stayed at the hotel), the business can report it to the review site.

How to respond to positive reviews

The positive reviews also shouldn’t be ignored. They’re guests too and they took the time to write a good review, so they should be thanked for their feedback and taking the time to write the review.

We’re here to help

If you need more help, whether technical or strategy related, we can help you. We can setup and optimize your hotel’s or restaurant’s listing, as well as monitor and respond to reviews. Contact us via email or call us today at (504) 779-5188 to learn more about how we can help control your business’s reputation online.

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