In 2019 online reviews are extremely important for the small hotel. They have changed the game of online marketing since the inception of the first online review sites. It allows hotels to take an active role in building an online community with their guests. It also provides future guests with trust, which in turn can drive new business, so it makes sense to stay in control of your reputation.
However, the occasional hiccups are part of everyday business and most hotels have had their fair share of unhappy guests. Here are concrete steps in dealing with the different kind of negative reviews your hotel may receive.
1. Dealing with fake negative reviews
First of all, establish whether the review you have received is legitimate. You can do this by attempting to identify the guest who left it by looking up all your guests which checked out close to the date when the review was posted online. If you can’t identify or have reasonable doubt that this guest never stayed at your hotel, it’s possible for the review to be fake posted by a competitor. Online review sites have procedures in place when dealing with illegitimate reviews so, whether this was left for you on Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor, you should attempt to contact the review site to raise their awareness about the review. Make sure to include any information with your suspicion as to why this might be the case and wait for their reply.
2. Dealing with legitimately negative reviews
If the review is from a legitimate guest, don’t despair. Tons of research has shown that both positive and negative reviews help your overall business growth. You can read more about that here. Make sure you reply to whatever the review is, that way you can show the world that your hotel cares. Needless to say, if there’s something in the review that can be fixed systematically it should be dealt with for any future guests.
3. Dealing with positive reviews
Happy guests are your biggest advocates in the world. Make sure to make the most out of it, by asking them about their stay. If they were happy politely ask them to leave a positive review online. You can instruct your reception team to this regularly, or use a guest feedback platform that can send automated reminder emails after your guests check out. Don’t forget to publicly reply to any positive review you receive by thanking the reviewer.
4. Dealing with bad review threats
With online review sites representing electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) marketing, each review can either be helpful, damaging or neutral to your hotel. Realizing the power a review holds, some guests attempt to blackmail hotels into getting free gifts and services.
One of David’s customers tried to do just that, threatening to leave a bad hotel review online unless he upgraded her room for free. He told her that won’t be possible. At that point, the customer went ahead and left an unrealistically bad review. After considering even court action, he decided it made more economic sense to just acquiesce and do what she wanted because in the end, it would cost less money in the long run. In exchange for the free room upgrade, she agreed to remove the negative review.