How to handle negative online reviews

It shouldn't come as a surprise that 95% of travellers read reviews prior to making a booking. The truth is, bad reviews can make or break your business. It can be frustrating to think that anyone with an internet connection can damage your reputation so easily. So how do you mitigate the risk of bad reviews impacting your business? Here are some tips to help your business handle negative online reviews and encourage positive ones.  


Open the door

In most cases, people leave bad reviews because they feel like their concerns weren’t properly addressed, or they could not share them with your staff during their stay. Encourage your staff to talk to the guests during their stay and make sure you address their concerns immediately 

The same goes at the end of their stay. Ask your guests about their experience and respond professionally to their feedback. You should be open to hearing their feedback - the good, the bad and the ugly. Taking criticism can be hard, but it's necessary if you want to improve the quality of your service in the long run.  


Follow up 

Another thing you can do to invite feedback is to send guests an automatic follow-up email. You can ask your guests to reply to the email with any feedback they may have. Make sure to outline how you will address their concerns in detail in your response. Remember, if people are given the opportunity to discuss their issues or concerns directly (whether over the phone or via email) they are less likely to take it online

You can also include a link to your Google review and TripAdvisor pages in your follow-up email. If you've done your job, happy customers will want to sing your praises. Make it easy for them to do that. 


Check reviews regularly 

What you don't know can't hurt you, right? Wrong! Not when it comes to reviews. Keep on top of what people are saying about your operation across a range of review sites. You can't control what you're not monitoring, so keep an eye your reviews. 


Carefully process negative online reviews 

It's easy to get emotional when you see a bad review of your business. However, before you reply, it's important that you take a step back and consider your reviewer's perspective before taking any action. 

Read the review carefully. Process every bit of information included in the reviewThe first thing you can do is to find the customer’s records in your systemInvestigate further on the customer’s experience. Talk to your staff and ask their side of the story. It's important to have all the information before responding or making any changes to your service.  


Respond as soon as possible 

Carefully processing negative reviews doesn’t mean you have to take a week before sending a response. People will appreciate it if you acknowledge their sentiments. The best thing you can do is respond to their comments as soon as possible. This shows them that you care about their opinion and you’re sorry about their bad experience. It also shows other people that you’re active in the review sites and you care about your guests’ experiences. If you've reviewed their comments and deemed them to be valid, then tell people how you will mitigate the problem and make sure it will not happen again. Be genuine in your response. 


Verify and ask the review site for help 

Some people will not tell the full story. Some people will even lie. Some people are just straight-up jerks. Fortunately for you, review platforms like Google Reviews and TripAdvisor will let you flag inaccurate reviews. They can help you manage those reviews that violate their policies.  


Negative online reviews are part and parcel of any business. And while they can be hurtful and destructive, how you choose to handle them will determine the impact on your business.  


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