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How to Take Control of Your Guest Reviews

Depending on your perspective, reviews may be a great way to spread the word about your tour and activity business, or they might be a necessary evil. Either way, they’re necessary.  Let’s take a look at how you can take control of your guest reviews.

According to Bright Local’s 2018 Review Survey, 91 percent of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. They look to reviews of your tours and activities like they would look to a trusted friend, and they’ll take what they find there as gospel.

That can be a worrying statistic. After all, you can’t control what guests say about your tours and activities, and unhappy guests often say terrible things. But while you can’t control the content of your guest reviews, there’s a great deal you can control.

Providing the Venue

There’s no stopping guests from leaving reviews all over the Internet–on review aggregators, search engines and social media pages–but you can choose where and how to focus your efforts. Are your resources are really best spent sending your customers (and their data) to third-party services that are just as happy to point them to your competitors or take their bookings for themselves?

With Rezgo’s Verified Guest Reviews, you keep your guests’ reviews where they’ll matter most: where the bookings happen. Would-be customers don’t need to wander off to third-party sites that advertise your competitors. They can find everything they need to convince them to book without ever leaving your tours and activities.

If your booking software doesn’t offer a review system, there are still better alternatives to sending your customers to an aggregator. In 2017, two platforms were responsible for most of the growth in online travel reviews: Google and Facebook.

Google My Business is a valuable resource for business owners for any number of reasons, and reviews rank highly among those. It’s also unavoidable. Google is the first place most customers will encounter your business, and having a complete, active business profile will help you make the best possible first impression.

If you can’t encourage customers to leave reviews directly on your booking website, Google is a good second choice. It’s highly visible, it’s used by an overwhelming majority of consumers, and it prominently features reviews.

In fact, according to Review Tracker’s 2018 online review survey, 63.6 percent of consumers will check reviews on Google before patronizing a local business–giving it a huge advantage over other review sites.

Facebook has also seen a huge uptick in reviews over the past few years. If you already maintain a Facebook page for your business, it can be a great destination for any feedback you solicit from your guests.

Once you decide where to focus your attention, you can encourage customers to leave reviews there in your follow-up emails. With Rezgo, it’s even simpler. Automated emails will give verified guests their own unique review links, so they’ll know exactly where to go.

Customers may still strike out on their own and leave reviews in places you don’t suggest, so it’s worth keeping an eye on popular review sites. Giving them an easy, trustworthy way to leave feedback just makes it much more likely that they’ll use the venue you provide.

Owning the Conversation

Once you wrap up a tour or activity, the content of your guest’s reviews is out of your hands. But while you can’t control what your customers say, you can control what future guests see.

Negative reviews happen to everyone. Encouraging your satisfied guests to leave reviews can help drown them out, but even one untouched negative review might color future perceptions of your business. Turn that around by being diligent about responding to reviews.

You don’t need to respond to every review your guests leave. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Experts agree that too many responses to positive reviews can turn prospective customers off. Revinate, a hotel reputation management firm, recommends responding to all your one- or two-star reviews, half your three-star reviews, and just a quarter of your four- and five-star reviews. Overall, the research says if you’re replying to about 40 percent of your reviews, you’re doing well.

When it comes to positive reviews, be selective in your responses. Responses should consider the content of the review, so reply to the ones that give you something to address. You might offer to pass on kind words to a particular guide, for example. If the only way you can respond is to thank the reviewer for their feedback, it’s probably a safe review to skip.

As for negative reviews, remember to keep your cool. Vicious review responses might occasionally go viral but unless your business is built on snark, they probably won’t improve future customers’ impressions.

While it’s important to remain polite and professional, review responses are still a good place to correct inaccuracies and show off your dedication to customer service and fixing mistakes. They’re one of the few places you can safely get the last word, so make good use of it.

Do you struggle to come up with good responses to bad reviews? Check out our article on how to keep your cool when answering negative reviews.

Turning Down the Noise

Of course, all of this assumes that the reviews you’re dealing with are legitimate. When you’re dealing with fakes, a different approach is required.

Fake reviews are particularly tricky to tackle. While you might be certain that a review was left by someone other than a guest, Google requires a lot of evidence to take down a review. While this helps maintain the perception of integrity for Google’s users, it often leaves businesses in the lurch. Other platforms have similarly stringent policies.

With Rezgo’s Verified Guest Reviews, you don’t need to worry about fakes: legitimate guests are the only ones with access to leave reviews.

After all, you shouldn’t have to waste hours going after fake reviews. You should be able to spend that time building your tour and activity business instead.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Reviews are too important to leave to chance. It’s an investment of effort to solicit them, reply to them, keep them legitimate and provide a service worthy of five stars every time. Take control of your reviews, and you can be sure that investment will pay off.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is an author and blogger who covers tourism and technology . Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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