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How Can Your Hotel Turn Negative Social Media Reviews into a Positive?

Christian Guinzburg
Senior Director, Hotel Pre-Sales

Has your hotel ever received negative online reviews?

Don’t fret. You are not alone.

With almost 3 billion social media users worldwide, there has been a drastic change in the way people choose to communicate, research and spend, with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor and Instagram making it quick and easy for guests to comment about virtually every aspect of their hotel experiences.

And such feedback holds tremendous sway. Millennials, in particular, are greatly influenced by online reviews. According to a consumer review survey from Bright Local, nearly 97% will read reviews before selecting a brand or business, and 86% acknowledge that their buying decisions are influenced by negative online reviews.

Which makes it an imperative for hoteliers to manage social media commentary. Fortunately, there is a tried-and-true process to address the issue. And it’s important to maintain perspective when criticism comes your way. No matter how hard you may try, in today’s world, negative reviews are inevitable. From a lumpy pillow to a disappointing dinner, it is common for guests to share their story, tag brands on social media, naming and shaming and even sharing photographic evidence.

The key is to deal with negative reviews wisely and not just look over them and move forward. Follow these five tips we have gathered from online review experts Trust Pilot and an article from author and strategist Joel Goldstein to discover how to turn a negative review into a positive outcome for your hotel:

1)  Do your research

After reading a negative review, do your research and dig deeper into what happened or how the mistake occurred. Talk to staff, review booking details, watch CCTV if necessary and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. This will help plan an appropriate response and answer any questions.

2) Respond promptly

Always reply to your customer. Never ignore the negative review as there may be a way to resolve the issue and encourage the guest to re-visit your hotel in the future. Send sincere apologies and explain why the problem may have occurred. Keep it concise and to the point to avoid creating a toxic, social media reply chain. Then execute on making things better.

3) Make it personal – chat offline

After posting a public response, invite the guest to have a conversation offline; it’s the first step in attempting to rebuild the relationship. Ask guests for their advice to prevent the problem from occurring again. Going offline also provides you the opportunity to offer some type of compensation for their misfortune. The level of compensation should be dependent on the severity of the review. But always propose something that allows your hotel to show the guest the type of service you normally deliver. This may be a complimentary dinner, spa service or even a free night stay.

4)  Solve the issue and review your objectives 

Make sure you solve the issue, speak to staff and implement new rules and guidelines, if necessary. Use technology to your advantage; record the incident in the customer management system, enabling staff to be informed for the guest’s next visit. Evaluate your goals and objectives and modify them to align with new procedures.

It’s important to note that negative reviews do have a silver lining. How else are you going to know how to improve your hotel if you never receive any constructive feedback from your customers? Appreciate that you have learned and gained something from the review and move forward.

Also, remember that no business is perfect; we all make mistakes and guests are aware of your fallibility. Having a mixture of positive and negative reviews on your social pages demonstrates your hotel’s transparency and authenticity, which guests appreciate as being genuine.

An effective social media strategy always should strive to build relationships with guests during good times as well as bad times. The reward? Winning their trust – and their repeat business.

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