Every hotelier is striving to provide top-notch service to all of their guests, whether it’s a simple 3-star hotel or a luxurious 5-star villa. The way your guests react and respond to your efforts can influence your reputation in one way or another. Usually, the visitors go to such websites as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Booking.com., etc., to post a review about their stay at your hotel. And this is where the fun begins.
If a guest is dissatisfied with your service or has experienced a problem during their visit, they might address the issue to you right away, at the spot. However, others prefer not to inform you if they have a problem and just power through their trip. Other people can be extremely pleased with a vacation at your hotel and tell you that personally or online.
All these people regardless of their impression of your service can go ahead and leave a review of your hotel. And you will have to respond to them. What’s more, not all of them will be positive and cheerful, some of them can be toxic and ugly. And with that, you will have to deal as well.
So, what is the proper way to reply to your visitor’s reviews online? Or can you just ignore them? Let’s find out.
Well, first of all, there’s no such option – to ignore a review. Well, I mean, there is, but it won’t do you any good. According to the TripAdvisor study, 62% of travelers choose to book a stay at a hotel, the management of which engages with the users online and reacts to the reviews of the past guests.
Gaining reviews and interacting with them helps you build a reputation and trust with people. Even if you receive a negative review, it doesn’t mean that your reputation is automatically ruined. After all, we’re all people – you, your staff, your guests, and me, the writer of this copy, – everyone can make a mistake.
How to Respond to a Positive Review
Ok, we’ve established that you need to reply to the reviews always, non-optional. Now, how exactly do you do that? It’s always great to receive a positive review, and it’s easy to get over excited about it. It may seem that it’s simple to respond to a positive review, but sometimes people go wrong about it too.
So, stay positive, polite and professional. When you receive a great review, first of all, thank a guest who left it for taking some time out of their day and reviewing your service. Let them know that you appreciate it a lot. Then, tell them that you are happy they enjoyed their stay and you were happy to have them. Finally, welcome them back for their next trip.
Here’s a good example:
As you can see, it’s short, up to point. They thanked their guest for staying with them and invited them to come over again. It’s polite, respectful and simple.
Here’s another great example:
Noticed one little detail about it? They address a person by their name. This is an important step as it makes your guest feel more welcome, and your response is personal, it shows you care about them.
However, if you know which one of your guests wrote a review and you know their real name, don’t use it. They would probably prefer not to reveal it. Always use the username they specify on a service site.
Don’t Throw Offers
While responding to a positive review, keep it up to the point that you’re grateful for it and will be happy to welcome your guest again, and do everything to ensure they have a great time. Don’t start talking about new offers or events you have at your hotel. You can seem obsessive, and it can become annoying and backfire, as a result, you’ll lose a grateful client. They already like your service, there’s no need to convince them at this point.
Instead, you can mention that you have something coming up and suggest them to subscribe to your newsletter, so they stay updated on the offers, discounts, events, etc. if they would like to visit you again.
How to Reply to a Negative Review
Now, let’s move on to the interesting part. No matter how awesome your hotel is and how hard you try to provide perfect service, you can still get a negative review. How do you react in this case?
First of all, (and this is extremely important), don’t ever get defensive. If you received a negative review swearing at you in all ways possible, don’t take it personally and don’t get upset. Think of it as an error analysis session. Instead of excusing the mentioned problem or claiming it wasn’t possible, think what you can do about it to fix it and tell your guest about it.
Again, stay polite, respectful, honest and professional. Thank them for their review and apologize if they had a poor experience. You can tell them that you haven’t faced such an issue in the past if that didn’t happen. Be careful, though, if such a problem occurred in the past, there might be a chance that someone else had mentioned it. So, if you say it didn’t happen, make sure it’s true. The Internet doesn’t forget things.
Then, inform them that you will take all necessary measures to investigate and fix the problem to ensure the comfort and safety of all your guests. Let them know that you care and that you are doing everything to eliminate the problem and prevent it from happening again. Wrap it up with a sincere apology and invite them again so they can see the improvement themselves.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples here:
As you can see, the review is quite toxic. And now take a look at the reply. Honestly, if I received such a response, I’d probably feel like they told me “Well, what did you expect? No one told you it is great, so, deal with it”.
First, the hotelier is trying to excuse themselves saying they are a “no frills budget 3-star hotel” as if the guests should automatically expect the worst. In the last sentence, they state that they didn’t receive any complaints. This looks like they shift responsibility on the customer for the bad service. The overall response says, “It’s cheap, so what do you expect for this money? You didn’t like it? Well, none of our business”.
Perhaps, they didn’t mean to make it look like that, but the impression of this isn’t the best. Even if the customer went too far, reading such a response gives a feeling like they only confirm it.
On the other hand, here is another example of a response to a negative review:
This review isn’t all bad. This person does specify that there were positive moments. However, while they compare this hotel to the others of the same chain, they point out how different the service and quality are, in a bad way.
The hotel management replies in a polite and professional manner. There is a thank you for the review, there is an apology for any inconveniences the customer experienced. What is significant, they point out how they address the problem, and they are trying to do their best to eliminate it.
Another important point, they address all the issues specified by the customer. It’s an essential step. By doing so, you show that you heard them, you care, and you are doing your best to improve the situation.
In this reply, the hotelier doesn’t just provide a bold excuse but tries to get some understanding pointing out that the problem is being fixed. Also, they invite them again so that the customer can see the improvement.
Don’t Giveaway Perks
When you receive a negative review, it can be tempting to offer them something to make up for the inconvenience. However, it’s not always a smart idea. You can’t offer a discount or a free night to every customer who gives you poor feedback or you’ll drop out of business shortly.
On the other hand, you can consider it as an option if the problem was grave. For example, bed bugs. It’s something that can really ruin your reputation. Even if you get regular pest inspection, it can happen.
In this case, let them know you’re taking every step to get rid of the problem and every precaution to prevent it from happening again. Inform them, how seriously you take such issues and the safety of your guests. In this situation, you can offer them a free night, perhaps, since the damage could be severe.
Reviews are an essential part of your reputation that can influence your business greatly. It’s essential that you interact with people who give you feedback and let them know that you care about them and they can trust you.
By replying to your guest’s reviews, you show them that you are just another person like them and not just some business-corrupted bot.
Always keep your answers grateful, personal, polite, respectful, and professional. Don’t get rude or defensive, it can harm your reputation more than a bad review. Be honest with your customers, like you would like them to be with you, and your hard work and attention will certainly bring your better results than you have ever expected. Well, of course, make your service great, and then your reviews will only be 5-star. But that is another story…