09 Jul TripAdvisor – hoteliers, it’s time to stop the excuses!
I know full well that as I type this, I am about to bring on the wrath of almost every hotelier out there, but I for one am sick to the back teeth of hearing hoteliers create excuse after excuse after elongated drawn out over-explained excuse for not handling TripAdvisor properly, because to be fair, there is no reason for failing to manage what people see about your hotel. Here I accumulate the top excuses I hear all the time (and see posted on forums and articles everywhere), and counter-argue each point – be ready to get annoyed if you use any of these excuses, because there really is no excuse….
Excuse 1 – The reviews are false
It is such a sad world we live in where people really do fall under the belief that every single review that is negative, is faked by a rival business! Anyone who truly thinks this is the case, needs to take a severe look in the mirror and re-assess their values. I am fed up of people using the ‘it’s a fake review’ excuse – if it is fake, report it to TripAdvisor, they may do something about it, they may not, but better to try than just sit contentedly back in your armchair safe in the knowledge that because you believe it is fake, then surely every of the 50 million visitors to the site each month will know that too! I am not saying that false and fake reviews do not exist, after all, some people are unscrupulous, but to spout that every positive review is genuine but every negative one is false, just smacks of narcissism and an egocentric attitude.
My point here is that anyone who believes that every review on TripAdvisor that differs to their own opinion, is false has a very distorted view of what their business is like – you cannot please everyone and you have to accept this. Bad reviews will happen, but what sets you apart from your competition is how you handle these issues and move on. I bet every hotelier that thinks every bad review of their business is false, will happily read bad reviews of their competitors and believe they are true, whilst revelling in the poor comments about their competition, safe in the knowledge that they themselves are perfect….hmmm… something not quite right there if that is the case!
Excuse 2 – It’s too time-consuming
I respond to reviews for my workplace; it takes me less than 30 minutes a week to respond to them all and log them in our records, as well as review whether complaints were logged throughout their stay! Anyone who says they cannot find 30 minutes or even an hour a week to respond to reviews, desperately needs to re-assess their workload. The point here is that actually responding to the reviews is not time-consuming and can be done in small blocks – responding to one review only takes 5 minutes or so, and that is not likely to be a hardship that will mess up your daily schedule. Responding to a review takes less time than going to the kitchen and making a coffee or smoking a cigarette or chatting inanely about your weekend; so forego the cigarette, the coffee or the gossip and respond to the reviews that are there for millions of people to see – there genuinely is no excuse for not doing it. If something requires investigation, simply ask the user to contact you and take the time to investigate it in between them leaving the review and actually contacting you.
It is imperative to ensure issues are passed on and investigated, alongside appropriate responses being given to guests; this is an integral part of any service recovery strategy and I fully accept that in some instances, the investigation can take a long time, but a guest would sooner wait for investigation and outcome, than have a half-baked response that fobs them off, or even worse, no response at all!
Excuse 3 – I do not know how to respond/I do not know how to use TripAdvisor
Really? Is this actually an excuse people still use? The actual response process is self-explanatory when you get in to the management centre of TripAdvisor; there are also plenty of guides and information through their help centre and online forums, alongside an entire community of people willing to help, so this is surely a redundant excuse.
Responding is easier and actually not as complicated as you may think – the rules are generally to stay professional, and remember that each response you write is in effect another review of your customer care, so do apologise for problems – think how you would respond to your grandmother, as this will pretty much guarantee you get it right!
Excuse 4 – I want to prevent new issues rather than deal with old ones
Psychologists would have a bit of a field day with this excuse as you are not only adopting a risk-adverse and confrontation-avoidance strategy, you are also showing very little empathy for your guests once they have departed (otherwise known as ‘We have had your money, now f#*k off!’). You are not tying yourself to a desk as has been touted by some, and you are actually going to achieve very little – the point here is that by failing to respond to complaints, you tell both old and new guests that you do not care. By also not bothering looking at the reviews, how do you know what needs fixing and what complaint issues are trending – how can you train your staff if you don’t know what to train them on? How can you establish where processes are going wrong if you do not examine instances of where they have gone wrong? How can you get new clients if you can’t even demonstrate you can look after the old ones? Finally – how can you be sure the processes you put in place as a result of complaints are actually enabling the outcome the guest wants, if you don’t ask the guest what they want after they complain?
Excuse 5 – I do not have the language skills
Okay, maybe there is a point here, but is one that can be overcome. There are multiple things you can do – perhaps get someone to help you or write on your behalf, or get someone to proof-read your responses before posting them; perhaps you just need an online language course (there are plenty of free ones out there) – you would be surprised how many people actually just appreciate the effort of responding!
Personally, I see that a lot of hoteliers do not respond or ‘bury their heads in the sand’ because they have heard horror stories from other hoteliers, and quite simply have a fear of the site – either from lack of skill, fear of negative reviews or lack of awareness of the power of the reviews. Many hoteliers have such a fear of responding badly to reviews, and this is justified (just from some of the responses I have seen people write), but just be nice; you should be doing this on a daily basis with guests anyway and just because they waited to get home to rip you apart does not give you the justification to rip their review apart – remember that the response from you says more about your customer care than all the great reviews people have written about your hotel!
So stop the excuses, pick up a laptop and respond to the reviews people write – if you can take the time to respond to online articles and complain about their content or argue why they are wrong, or socialise online with contacts, then you can afford the time to respond to a review on TripAdvisor!