By Daniel Edward Craig
The Reputation Roadshow continues! Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Ciaran Fahy, managing director of social-media-savvy The Cavendish hotel in London, and Charles Yap, Director of Global Brand Communications and social media rock star of InterContinentals Hotels Group. I got some insight into how two very different hotel companies – an independent boutique and an international conglomerate – handle social media and do it with flair. More on this in future posts.
To day I’m at the Innovative Marketing Conference in London, where I’ll be sitting on a panel entitled “Online review sites: exploiting the opportunities and mitigating the downsides” with Christine Petersen, President of TripAdvisor for Business, and Hannah Clipston of Thomas Eggar.
The conference sponsor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, asked me to write an article on managing TripAdvisor reviews, which is featured as a pull-out section in the latest issue. I’m sharing it with you today.
How to Manage TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor – the online review site now has over 50 million monthly visitors worldwide. Daniel Craig explains how to respond to a review of your business – good and bad.
Why should I respond to reviews?
Responding to reviews shows that you’re listening and you care. It’s also an opportunity to set expectations for future guests. You may be responding to an individual reviewer, but your audience is the greater community of travel shoppers. In a Forrester survey commissioned by TripAdvisor, 79% of 2,100 travellers indicated that a management response to a negative review reassures them. You have the final word. Use it, but don’t abuse it.
Which reviews should I respond to?
Respond to any commentary that is damaging to your reputation or that calls for an apology or clarification. There’s no need to respond to all positive reviews; that can get repetitive and even off-putting. Respond occasionally to thank the reviewer and to highlight the positive. Or send a private note to express gratitude to your advocates.
What should I say?
Thank the reviewer, apologize if something went wrong, and say how you’re following up. Travellers are seeking reassurance the same thing won’t happen to them, so be transparent. If you can’t fix the problem, briefly explain why. This is not the place for marketing babble, stilted hotel-speak or defensiveness. Be sincere, conversational and professional. And bear in mind that review content is searchable, so choose your words carefully and proofread before posting.
When is it okay to ignore a negative review?
If a review is offensive or irrational, you may choose to disregard it. Travellers can read between the lines, and a response will draw unnecessary attention to the review. Consider adopting Intel’s social media policy of responding to “the Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly”.
How can I cope with bad reviews?
Social media gives voice to all types, from the easily impressed to the impossible to please. At some point every business receives negative criticism, sometimes unjustly so. It’s hoteliers, not travellers, who obsess over bad reviews. Criticism adds authenticity and sets expectations. Show leadership: listen, learn, support your team and soldier on.
What if a review contains false information?
Post a response to diplomatically set the record straight. Inaccurate information is often the result of a misunderstanding rather than mean-spiritedness; never accuse a reviewer of dishonesty. TripAdvisor won’t get involved in arbitrating disputes, but if commentary is sufficiently damaging, such as a false report of bedbugs or illegal activity, use the “Dispute a Review” tool in the Management Center.
What if I suspect a review is fake?
TripAdvisor has a zero tolerance policy for fraud and has sophisticated tools for detecting it, but also depends on its community to help keep content accurate. Says Kevin Carter, TripAdvisor’s Business and Trade Public Relations Manager, “We welcome business owners to contact us if they feel a review is illegitimate or does not comply with our content policies/submission guidelines. We investigate every inquiry.” Use the “Report as Inappropriate” tool in the Management Center.
When should I consider seeking legal advice over a false review?
According to TripAdvisor, fraudulent reviews are illegal in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France and the United States, among other countries. However, pursuing legal action can be costly and stressful. Use it as a last resort. Post a response first, send a private message to the reviewer requesting the review be taken down, and dispute the review with TripAdvisor.
What should I do if TripAdvisor accuses me of posting fake reviews?
Penalties for gaming the system may include a drop in your popularity index ranking and a red badge warning travellers that your reviews are suspicious. “Offending properties are encouraged to respond to the letter they are sent notifying them about the penalty,” says Carter, “providing any information or evidence that they have to refute or confirm the allegation.
What if I can’t reach TripAdvisor?
In the past TripAdvisor has been notoriously difficult to reach, but is making efforts to be more open and responsive. This year the company launched a Customer Care Center and recently announced a dedicated customer support number and Customer Care Manager for the EMEA region. You’ll find contact information and email forms in the revamped Management Center, which also features tips and resources and FAQs for managing reviews. Carter says most inquiries are reviewed within 48 hours. A dispute resolution can take up to nine days, though often less.
How can I improve my rating and ranking on TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor doesn’t reveal its popularity index algorithm, but does confirm that the quality and volume of reviews have a significant impact on rankings, and that recent reviews have greater weight than old reviews. The only sure-fire way to increase ratings is to exceed guest expectations time and again. Set objectives, use feedback to guide improvements, and recognize staff for achievements. Keep your listing up to date and complete, and don’t be shy about asking for reviews.