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.
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.