10 DOs & DON’Ts for Managing Good (& Bad) Reviews

There are good + bads ways of dealing with guest reviews.
There are good + bads ways of dealing with guest reviews.

We’ve all been there, whether we’re accommodation owners or not. We’ve all imagined we’ve done something well only to be brought up short when we’re told we haven’t. It leaves us feeling baffled and hurt – especially if we imagined we’d done our best.

If you’re the owner of a B&B, guesthouse or cottage and you receive a less than glowing review, the feeling is even more acute, because your property is your home – it’s not just a building where you go to work every day. The temptation is to take any negative feedback personally and react instantly. But if you allow yourself to do so, it can result in real damage to your online reputation. And in the modern digital world, where there’s so much scope for people to review absolutely everything, that’s something you want to avoid at all costs. What you need to do is take a deep breath, count to 10 and keep these (appropriately enough) 10 DOs and DON’Ts in mind…

1. DON’T Ignore it, no matter how unjustified or unfair it is. You might imagine that you’re maintaining a dignified silence, but to other users of the site (e.g. TripAdvisor) it’ll look as though you don’t care enough to respond. The review in question will therefore acquire unearned credence.

2. DON’T Respond in a defensive way that personally attacks the reviewer. You’ll do just as much harm as you would by ignoring it.

3. DO Thank the reviewer for his/her contribution.

4. DO Highlight any positive aspects mentioned in the review first.

5. DO Express surprise and disappointment that the reviewer had an experience that was in any way negative (thus implying that it was extremely unusual.)

6. DO Point out any factual inaccuracies in the review, but politely. By being polite and expressing regret you not only show that you care about your guests’ experiences. You also take the higher ground.

7. DO Take the conversation off-line: suggest that the guest contact you at your private email address, thus defusing the possibility of a public row.

But it’s not just negative reviews that require a response. Positive feedback on review sites is an incredibly useful free marketing tool, so it needs to be acknowledged too…

8. DO Once again, thank the guest for taking the time to write.

9. DO Highlight any specific aspects that they praised – if it’s good, it’s worth repeating.

10. DO Make sure your response includes details of your website, making easier for any fans of your property to pass on those details and book again.

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Think before you respond to reviews

With the huge increase in the number of people using social media, a guest’s opinion of your property is no longer limited to whatever site it originally appeared on. Reviewers can now also link back to their opinion on Twitter or Facebook. Other Twitter/Facebook users can then retweet/share it, allowing it to gain more and more traction online. You can’t afford not to be part of this conversation. But by getting involved in a dignified, circumspect way, you can turn it to your advantage and defuse its potential threats or get added value from the positive.

What’s Your Unique Selling Point?

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USPs can be powerful sales tools

USPs are all the rage these days, because they make you stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Given how full of character – and, yes, “quirky” even! – B&Bs and guest houses can be, they’re in a great position to sell themselves in this way.

Having said that, figuring out your USP can sometimes be a bit of a head-scratcher, so here’s some food for thought.

For one thing, the great advantage that all independent properties have is that they’re unique in relation to chain hotels: they’re smaller, more intimate and offer a more personalised service. But, as the owner of a bed and breakfast or guest house, how do you distinguish it from all the others in the area? Here are some things to think about…

  • Are you family-run?
  • Do you grow your own fresh produce?
  • Do you have a herb garden?
  • Do you do some home baking?
  • Are you pet-friendly?
  • Do you have a log fire?

If you can think of something, you’ll find it a lot easier to attract customers and get extra bookings,

Mind you, it’s not just a case of being unique; it’s also important to be unique in the right way. If you’re looking for a unique attribute that you can use to sell your property and nothing comes readily to mind, it might be a good idea to start by looking at your recent customers:

  • Who has booked your property in the past few years?
  • What kind of people are they? What are they interested in?
  • Have they written reviews on your website, or on TripAdvisor? If so, what have they said?
  • Have any of them told you that they booked your property for a special reason?
  • Has a certain local event or landmark brought them to your area?

In terms of finding something unique, customer feedback can be your most valuable resource.

USP_ebookIf, having done all this, you still feel that your property still doesn’t have an obvious unique attribute, there’s always the option of creating one. If you’re in an especially beautiful part of the world, you could study some local history and offer walking tours that focus on that. Seasonal unique selling points are another great way to keep business coming in all year round: you could focus on an outdoor facility, like a patio garden, in summer, and an indoor facility, like a real log fire, in winter.

Once you’ve settled on a unique attribute that you’re confident about, the other most important strategy is not to undersell it. Make sure it’s prominent on your website and try to complement it, if possible, with the best possible photos.

Tripadvisor Business Listings to have booking and availability Q4 2013

TripAdvisor has just let us know that they are planning to enable properties with business listings to display rates and availability and booking functionality (planned for Q4 2013). An official press release is due later this week from TripAdvisor. No final decisions have been made about what the interface will look like or what the bidding model will be.

This is an interesting addition to the TripAdvisor offering coming hot on the heels of their new meta search rate comparisson. This will give small properties worldwide the chance to show their rates and availability alongside some of the biggest travel companies.

Look out for further details and compare it with the current TripAdvisor Pay Per Click advertising explained in a previous blog.