In my last post – Take back control from TripAdvisor – Part Two – I made the point that the owner, or senior manager, of a hotel or other lodging business is not powerless in the face of TripAdvisor: there are always choices. The most important choice to make is to accept that TripAdvisor is not an enemy (although I can understand why it sometimes might seem that it is), it is just one of many ways to listen to your customers.
A review on TripAdvisor, or on any other site, is feedback and as such it is a gift: it is free market research. You might not always like what you read but I guarantee you will learn at least one thing from each review (granted on occasion you might need to look very hard to find it).
Customer feedback is essential in finding out what is broken in your business. If there are cleanliness issues then they should be addressed; if customer service is lacking in certain areas, introduce some appropriate training; if guests are disappointed with their room, find out why and what needs to change. And what needs to change does not have to be any physical aspect of the room: it could simply be the way you describe it.
Of course the best way to handle negative reviews is to do everything possible to ensure you do not receive any. This means having in place, at a very early stage, a robust Customer Engagement Strategy and this strategy must include a customer feedback loop or Voice of the Customer programme, which essentially means collecting customer comments at every opportunity, feeding those into your management processes and taking action.
Creating a positive online reputation is simple but it is not easy; yet in the ‘Age of the Customer’ it is crucial to the sustainability of your business.