TripAdvisor is the biggest online travel community in the world. The website now has more than 150 million reviews and 260 million unique monthly visitors.
The scale and popularity of the site makes it difficult for hotel and holiday park owners to ignore, and it has become the first port of call for many people when deciding where to book their holiday. It plays on the keen sense of anxiety that comes with holiday booking – you know you might only get one opportunity to go away in a year, so you had better not choose somewhere bad!
TripAdvisor reviews can offer reassurance that a hotel really is as good as the brochure says, and this goes some way to accounting for the site’s tremendous year-on-year growth in terms of popularity.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing a series of blog posts about different aspects of TripAdvisor, with the aim of showing that when you approach the site with an open mind and a and a carefully considered strategy, the site can actually be harnessed to benefit your business, improve your reputation, and bring in new customers.
This week’s article focuses on one of the questions we most frequently get asked about TripAdvisor –
How should businesses respond to their reviews?
TripAdvisor gives you as a business owner the right of reply for any review posted about your business. If you’re not sure whether you should be replying to your reviews on TripAdvisor, the answer is unequivocally that you should be. Engaging with feedback shows you are listening, and that can make an enormous difference to how your business is perceived.
The caveat here is that it is no good just replying to bad reviews – that makes you look defensive and suggests you are more concerned with your reputation than with your guests’ experiences. Get into the habit of replying to ALL reviews, even if it is just one line thanking the reviewer for taking the time to write something nice about your business.
Here are six top tips for you to bear in mind when responding to reviews:
1. React Fast
Once you have claimed your TripAdvisor listing, TripAdvisor will notify you by email whenever a new review is posted. This enables you to respond quickly to each review as they go up, showing that you are listening and are receptive to your feedback. Remember also that the more prompt you are with your response, the more people are likely to read it.
2. Be Polite and Professional
It can be extremely frustrating to get negative reviews on TripAdvisor, particularly when the criticism is unwarranted or there is an obvious agenda on the part of the reviewer. It is tempting to let your feelings show in your response, but remember you are not just talking to the individual reviewer, but also to the hundreds/thousands of potential customers who look at your TripAdvisor listing.
With this in mind, it is a good idea to sleep on a bad review, and then come back to it the next day and write a considered point-by-point response. Where criticisms are warranted, offer an apology, along with a thoughtful explanation of what went wrong. Where they are unjustified, set the record straight in a firm but courteous manner.
3. Draw Attention To Changes
If your listing has reviews complaining about issues that have since been addressed, it is essential to go back and reply, highlighting the changes you have made to improve matters. This shows you take your feedback seriously, and are committed to providing the best possible experience for your guests.
There is no age limit for TripAdvisor reviews, meaning that someone could potentially be put off visiting your business by a seeing bad review on your listing, not knowing that in fact you had fixed the problems described in the review years ago.
4. Ensure Individual Privacy
TripAdvisor emphasises the importance of anonymity in its reviews. While this does leave the door open to fake reviewers, TripAdvisor believes people in general give more candid appraisals of their stay if they don’t have to give their real name. This means that if you do happen to know who was behind a certain review, you should in no way use their name, phone number or any other personal information to identify them when you respond.
5. Be Interesting and Original
One of the most difficult (but also most important) aspects of responding to your reviews is trying to make each one unique and tailored to suit the review in question. People will always appreciate an individually written response, and are likely to be less impressed by an obvious stock answer.
6. Say Thank You
Your responses to reviews are a great opportunity to let guests know you are grateful for their comments, and that you welcome both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Showing your guests you appreciate them goes a long way towards ensuring customer loyalty and keeping people coming back year after year.
In the next part I’ll take a look at how businesses can add photos and information to their TripAdvisor listing page in ways that add value and complement the reviews added by guests.