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Reviews are Gifts from Guests handed on a silver-platter

‘We chose your place because of your reviews’

‘We chose your place because the way you respond to the reviews made it seem like you care about your guests’  

‘I always read the negative reviews, and see what people complain about’

‘Reading the responses to the negative reviews tells me what a place is like’

Reviews are gifts from your guests, handed on a silver-platter. ALL reviews. Cherish them, ask for them, and learn from them. Some clients will automatically give you feedback, some OTA’s automatically ask for it - sometimes YOU have to ask for it. Reviews are really important to you, it is direct communication from your guests to you, often in their own words. It is absolutely priceless.  At best reviews work better than your online marketing material, and at worst they serve as a reality check.

Here are five important pointers about reviews to help make the best of All of your reviews: 1 - Respond to every review.  If you choose to only respond to the negative reviews, you are only fire fighting and it shows. Responding to every review, on the other hand, shows that clients are important to you. Giving attention only to the negative reviews becomes counterproductive.

2 - Respond to every review as if it were the only review that you have received: do not copy/paste and repeat the same positive or negative phrases over and over again. Treat each comment as one-and-only. Of course after you have hundreds of reviews and you are grateful for every single one, some repetition is obvious, but ‘Thank you so much for your review’ is about the same as ‘So glad you took the time to review us’ as ‘We thoroughly enjoyed reading your review’ – if you get the idea.

3 – Use your responses as an opportunity to high-light features of your property.  If someone mentions that they enjoyed the common guest kitchen (which is new), use the opportunity to high light its features, like ‘The common kitchen with the gas bar-b-que which you enjoyed is in fact a very popular feature, especially amongst our guests who don’t want to go to town every day for a dinner’ or ‘Our new, free, parking area has really proven to be so useful now that the street-parking is increasingly scarce and expensive’.  You get the drift.

4 – Don’t panic at the first sign of negative news.  One person’s view, negative or positive, is just that: one person’s view.  It is right to respond and validate the writer’s experience as it shows you care, and it is worth looking into any mentioned problem and fixing it as necessary.  Changing procedures in panic after one comment is not. 5 - You will want to identify tendencies and patterns, both positive and negative.  Your clientele as a whole will tell you what you do right and what needs to be developed. It is useful to gather the information immediately according to a few key client segments.  For instance, if your establishment has reviews on 5 different review sites regularly, it might be interesting to be able to analyse if your feedback is similar on each site.  You can also try to divide the information by another segment that is important to you - nationality or length or the month of stay for instance. I had a fellow guesthouse owner that once told me after her first year of activity that she really loves the business.  Except for one thing: dealing with the guests.  If that is you, if being with and talking to the guests is not your cup of tea, make sure you are not in the front line of things; personally OR on-line. No matter what, it shows.  Choose your co-workers carefully.  More about that next time.

Virpi Oliveira

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