• Nancy Arsenault, Managing Partner

Please Give Me a '5'

Love or hate review sites, they are part of the tourism information pipeline and they influence choice. What I love about them is the diversity of opinions and unique perspectives that are shared that go beyond what a typical marketer may share to 'sell'. I also know, being an educator in the tourism industry that many businesses don't like the review boards as they can't control the message, can't control the rating, don't want their shortcomings posted on the internet, and are wary that all systems are subject to potential falsehoods and abuse.

So that is the reality so as a business owner you need to think about how to optimize having a social presence on review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp or sharing economy sites such as Uber and Airbnb where you rate each other. I personally think the two-way feedback approach is great, I rate you, you rate me. Was I a good customer? Gets you thinking before you write!

What you should NOT DO.

1. Ask customers upon departure 'Please give me a 5.' Personally, this drives me nuts! I have had this happen at hotel checkouts, leaving an Uber or Airbnb and I find it offensive. It automatically makes me want to drop the ranking. Why not ask me, when we are face-to-face "Did I deliver a 5-star service?" Have the courage to hear the answer and thank the guest for the input. Your perception of 5-star and mine may be different and your customer could gain insights on how to tweak and amend your business and personally thank the guest. This may impact how they rate you.

2. Send email attacks back to your customers who give you less than a 5 (which you asked for). Consider instead of entering a dialogue -- again to learn what you could have done better.

3. Not respond to guest comments or only respond to people who give you 4s and 5s, or 1s and 2s. Consider all comments worthy, the customer has taken the time to share. If your practice is to not respond to all comments, then ensure you cover all bases, all comments.

4. Have boilerplate responses, they appear disingenuous.

What you SHOULD DO.

1. Deliver excellence in quality and customer service.

2. Accept the fact that some people just don't give 5's. Perfection is not the goal, excellence in consistently high ratings with positive comments is.

3. Reflect on the advice given and consider if it is worth amplifying and/or amending what you offer guests.

4. Respond promptly and respectfully and trust other travellers are intelligent enough to read the review, recognize a potential rant, and see your response.

5. Appreciate that a 1 or 2 may mean you may not have attracted your ideal guest. I recall a TripAdvisor site once where a property received a 1 because it was not pet-friendly. That was great news to me as I do not want to stay at a pet-friendly place. If I was the business owner I would use the 1, thank the customer and let them know you have taken corrective action to better advertise your pet policy on your website.

6. Understand that travellers will cross check with other sites, blogs, Facebook pages, ones you may not know exist. As a cyclist, I trust the online communities I belong to for advice and information, formal review sites are only one input source in my decision making.

7. Use the information to review your strengths and weaknesses, help staff see where they can contribute to improving the customer experience and customer journey.

Remember, you most likely didn't get 100% on every test you ever wrote, every paper you ever submitted, every performance review you had at work. Feedback, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn.


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