In my last post – Take back control from TripAdvisor – Part One – I looked at how negative reviews can have a catastrophic impact on a business if the business owner is not managing their own reputation. Here I will suggest how you, as an owner or senior manager of a hotel or guesthouse, can start to manage your online reputation.
I will begin by considering a statement made by one of the participants, a Bed & Breakfast owner, in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Attack of the Trip Advisors’. During an interview sequence she stated: “I am powerless to change what has been written about me!” I was left with the impression that she had generalised that sense of powerlessness and indeed a postscript at the end of the programme stated that she had put her business up for sale.
I can empathise with that sense of helplessness when faced with a seemingly unassailable force but for me the key is to realise that you, me, we all have choices in any situation.
You Have A Voice
To start with, unlike some review sites, TripAdvisor gives the property owner the right to reply. Admittedly from a quick search on the net, from sites like Hotels Against TripAdvisor and innspiring.com, it is obvious that the industry does not think the company goes far enough to create an even playing field. However, while I do not wish to make light of the damage a negative review can do, my aim here is to simply give an owner the sense that they do have options. My philosophy is to focus on what you, as an individual, can control. If you consider you have a legal case then you can decide to take action or not; but what you probably cannot do is make TripAdvisor go away.
As the owner or manager of a hotel or B & B you do have a voice, no matter how compromised you might believe it to be; and, if there are no legal considerations, I suggest you use that voice. However you must use it wisely or risk making the matter worse.
Use Your Voice Wisely
I suggest you should respond to both positive and negative reviews but I want to focus on negative ones here since, naturally, those are the ones that give owners and senior managers the most anguish.
When responding to a negative review my fundamental advice is:
- Make sure you read the review in a calm frame of mind.
- Actively look for what you might learn from the review.
- Avoid taking comments personally.
- Refrain from angry or abusive comments. Be professional at all times.
- Deal with specifics. Avoid responding in a generic, template style.
- Thank the reviewer for their feedback and explain what steps you will take to address the points raised.
Customers do not expect any company to be perfect and by responding to criticism in a professional and positive way you will start to build trust with the audience.
Next time: Take back control from TripAdvisor – Part Three, accept a TripAdvisor Review as a gift.