Even in small towns, hotels and motels have to cope with online reviews. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Local let every traveler become an instant expert. And small town hotel owners are left wondering how to respond.
(Don’t see the video? Click through to What do we do about a negative review.)
You already know how to respond when someone walks up to you at your front desk with a complaint or a compliment. It’s a skill as delicate as art, and you’ve probably honed it through years of experience. Responding online is an extension of that skill. How you respond gives you your chance to change someone who is displeased into a fan.
My Tourism Currents co-founder and frequent traveler Sheila Scarborough told me she booked a hotel not based on the reviews themselves, but specifically based on the owner’s interaction on TripAdvisor. When she first looked at the hotel details, it looked “a little funky,” Sheila said. But the reviews were positive, and the owners were interacting. That gave her a sense of confidence. She booked it, and it turned out to be very nice.
The magic is in taking the step of responding. You can influence the behavior of people who will be your future customers.
The Big Secret
The secret is that this is not a chance to tell your side of the story. We know you want to, but don’t.
Every review site has its own reply standards. Some don’t allow any responses. Some allow you to post very limited replies. Some allow you to contact the reviewers individually. Then, you also have to listen for people mentioning you on Twitter or on their own personal blogs.
A Cheat Sheet
Because so many hotels and motels need a cheat sheet to responding to reviews, we made one at Tourism Currents. It’s a two-page guide to only what you need to know:
- What should happen before you respond
- 6 steps of how to respond effectively
- The role of the observer – who’s listening in?
- Two ways to get more positive reviews
- Tips on specific sites, including TripAdvisor, Google Places, Expedia and more
- How to respond to comments on Twitter and Facebook
You can pick up your copy of our cheat sheet for $17 here: Responding to Online Reviews.
- About the Author
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.