bad online review of a hotel

That nasty review of your hotel isn’t as bad as the one above, but they still gave you only one star because they found mold on the walls in the bathroom.

Or the drunks in the next room carried on all night.

Or the surly waitress in your restaurant smelled like cigarette smoke.

When you get a bad review online, like at TripAdvisor or Yelp, that’s bad publicity, period. You must take the time to respond. Here’s why:

1. It shows you care and that you take complaints seriously. Not responding is akin to saying “no comment.”

2. It gives you a chance to apologize and fix the problem.

3. In certain cases, you can offer unhappy customers something to make up for the less-than-stellar service, like a free dessert with their next meal.

4. It gives you a chance to correct the record if the complaint includes inaccuracies. But don’t argue, and don’t sound defensive.

5. Your comment might discourage other unhappy guests, some who just like to complain, from piling on.

6. If a journalist or blogger wants to write about you, and their research includes checking you out at these sites, you want to be there and put your best foot forward because it could affect what they write.

7. Your comments might be read not only by the person who wrote the bad review, but by thousands of other potential guests. Remember, bad reviews sometimes live online forever.

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

Read this very helpful article on Top tips for hotels when responding to reviews on TripAdvisor. It was written by Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor, and much of it is equally helpful for any business that gets a bad review online and has a chance to respond.

I’d add one thing to Payea’s list. Don’t comment on bad reviews when you’re angry. Cool off first. You need to be rational, level-headed and empathetic.

You can also watch these videos of how two businesses respond to to bad reviews on Yelp and hear how one business owner actually can sometimes turn a bad review into a good one.

Have you responded to reviews, good or bad, at these consumer review sites? What was the result?

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