Dealing with criticism – the bad review!

These days there are blogs and review sites popping up everywhere and the chances that your establishment will get a glowing review 100% of the time, is slim to none. However, in the unfortunate circumstance of an unfavourable review, how you deal with it says more about your business than the review itself.

Firstly, is it true?

Read the review carefully, consider the comments that have been made. Is this a genuine review or a malicious attack? Most of the time, the reviewer does not have something against your business or enterprise – they are simply being honest about their experience. Does some of what they are saying ring true?

Secondly, reach out to the reviewer

This obviously all comes down to your PR guidelines, but we would suggest contacting the reviewer – not in a public forum (i.e. send direct messages not Facebook posts or tweets). Thank them for their review. Ask them if they would be willing to set up a call or a meeting to discuss the review.

Listen to what they have said

This is valuable information on your client / customer’s experience. Put away any anger or embarrassment you may feel and address the concerns raised. Often the issues are very easy and simple to fix and improve the overall experience.

What to do when you've received a bad review!

What to do when you’ve received a bad review!

Fix the problem

Remember that although it might seem like a PR nightmare, the problem is actually not the poor review. The problem is the poor experience one of your client’s had at your establishment, and the likelihood that others feel the same but are just not voicing  their concerns, but they will talk with their feet…

Once you have reached out to the reviewer in question, consider a public response. Something along of the lines of an apology to the reviewer for the awful experience, thanking them for bringing this to your attention and followed by an undertaking to rectify the issues.

Invite the reviewer again

Once you have addressed the concerns raised, invite the reviewer to come and try your establishment again. Throw in a free night’s stay or some other encouraging factor to get them to come back and ask them to let you know how they have experienced their second stay at your hotel, meal at your restaurant or spa experience.

We are not suggesting you specifically ask the reviewer to write a positive review, but hopefully they will be so pleased with the changes that they will want to let their readers know that you have taken their criticism to heart and improved the customer experience for everyone!

What not to do :

  • act in a defensive manner, sub-tweet, defame the reviewer;
  • ignore the review altogether, block the reviewer and put your head in the sand;
  • send threatening letters to the reviewer demanding they remove the post/publish an apology (this will only result in them writing further articles or posts about how poor your management style really is and how you have threatened them…);
  • any other action that is aimed at trying to “silence” the reviewer and/or the bad review.

Prevention is better than cure

Of course, your best option is to ensure that you never receive such a review, by contacting Guestwho Mystery Guest Services to come into your organization and conduct a review for you. Remember that our reviews are confidential and private and will not be published – the information is for your eyes only, so you can rectify any issues and ensure that you only receive a sparkling review from the public!

Surprises are great – just not on the bill! (our mystery guest views)

The most amazing hotel, lodge, restaurant or spa experience can be ruined (beyond repair) by a nasty surprise on the bill (check) or account at check-out.

Those hidden costs

Guestwho, a mystery guest services company, has noticed a trend among hotels, lodges and spas to offer a great rate or special but then have a number of add-on costs.

There is no big issue with additional costs, but the problem comes when these are not clearly explained to the guest or patron and/or where the additional costs are not displayed prominently or at least in an accessible manner (such that a guest knows that if they want to make use of that service it will cost x amount of money).

In respect of services, amenities or facilities, the use of which would ordinarily be expected to be included in the fee, it is all the more important to ensure guests are aware that these carry an additional cost.

First and last impressions

It is said that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and while we at Guestwho firmly support this and the importance of making a great first impression, even if everything else at your hotel, lodge, restaurant or spa has been absolutely perfect and the guest has had the most amazing time, nothing can ruin that experience more than a nasty surprise on the bill for some cost that the guest had thought was included or a complimentary amenity.

The effect can be so damaging that even though the guest may not complain, their memory and recollection of their experience at your establishment will be forever tainted by the unwelcome expense, to such an extent that they may never return.

What is expected?

These are some items or services that guests would expect to be included in the room cost / treatment cost –

  • Hotels – use of hotel gym, swimming pool, tea & coffee service in room, hotel breakfast, in-room hotel amenities (toiletries), wifi;
  • Lodgesgame drives, non-alcoholic drinks, all meals (if your lodge advertises as “all inclusive”);
  • Spas – use of swimming pool, steam room, sauna, non-alcoholic drinks, light snacks and fruit.

We are not suggesting that you cannot charge for the use of these services or amenities, but rather that if you choose to charge for these, that you make this clear to your guests  – preferably on your website, as well as at the time the guest makes a reservation and again when they arrive at reception. Consider included a price list in guests’ rooms or readily available in the spa.

Mystery Guest Additional Expenses

Are there any other items that you (as a guest) would typically expect to be included?

Free Wifi – a necessity?

Does your hotel / lodge / spa / restaurant offer free wifi?

If not, why not?

In this instant age, connectivity is of the utmost importance.  If you don’t have wifi available for your guests, this is something you should seriously consider.

Do you charge for the use of your wifi?

Guestwho has identified that certain well-established luxury hotel chains charge their guests a flat rate per day for access to the wifi network. Considering the price per person per night at these establishments, charging a hefty fee for wifi on top of this just seems rather “cheap”, for lack of a better description.

Do what you must to build the cost in elsewhere to recover your expense, but expecting a guest to pay an additional R150 (or more) per day for wifi does not sit well with most people.

Image Source : youmustbetrippin.com

Image Source : youmustbetrippin.com