You could have 500 ‘excellent’ reviews, and people will still read the three ‘terrible’ ones. Life is cruel.
If the internet is a reflection of human psychology, what does that say about our species? Here’s five reasons why guest reviews suck… (even the good ones):
What does this actually mean? How can you avoid disappointing people? Where do they get their expectations from? It’s certainly one thing if a property has failed to measure up to the basics: clean, tidy, polite. But when a three-star motel gets a review headlined ‘disappointing’ with no reasons why, it’s a source of frustration for managers and staff, I’m sure. One way to curb disappointment might be lowering expectations: if you haven’t had a refurbishment in 20 years, you might want to remove ‘luxury’ from your property description. But aside from that: people need to get off their Obi Wan high horses..
2. Sensitive sleepers
There’s always gonna be one dopey bloke who can’t figure out how to work the blackout blinds. Or a couple who requested a cheaper room but complain about the road-side noise. Or a family that neglected to request extra kids’ beds beforehand so ended up bunking in with a toddler. Mattresses don’t come in one-size-fits-all, so there’s always gonna be folks who find your selection uncomfortable. Blankets too hot, quilts too cold, sheets too rough or too silky. Let’s not get started on room temperature control. Moral of the story: even if the general consensus is a good night’s sleep, you’re bound to get a few guests ranting online about their lack of Zzzz.
3. Isolated incidents be damned.
There’s no such thing as a one-off mistake in online-review-land. Once someone’s written up their SHOCKING, AWFUL, APPALLING experience on TripAdvisor (or the like), it becomes an experience shared by all who read it. A perfectly written response from a property manager can settle the situation but it’s still an ordeal that will be read time-and-time again. Hopefully, common-sense prevails and most onlookers will take extreme reviews with a pinch of salt. But sometimes a wronged guest can really put a dent in a property’s reputation. Remember that one time a double-booking meant a guest had to wait an extra hour to check-in? Or that time housekeeping dropped the ball or room service lost an order or the front desk manager was having a bad day? Well, TripAdvisor does.
4. Repeating yourself?
If you have to keep using the same defences when responding to bad (or mediocre) reviews, it starts to look a bit glib. If you’re getting a trend of comments on the same thing, it might do to add something to your description addressing the matter. Or else, just respond to a couple of the top comments in full and then use a shortened version for others. If you’re a brand-new property training young staff, for example, it’s tough to see a shed-load of comments slating customer service. Sure, the guests might not be aware of the circumstances but it doesn’t help to see so many of the same criticisms. Especially when it’s something you’re actively working to improve. Sometimes, replying to every single bad review can come across like replying to every tweet you see on Twitter, or picking at every comment you don’t like on Facebook – it might feel like a moral duty, but it’s just drawing attention to negativity.
5. Money talks, perhaps even more than guests
Guest reviews that specify every extra fee they’ve been charged for different services or in-room beverages; perhaps wifi or extra cleaning fees, are a particular nuisance. Not so easily overlooked by future readers, those perusing your property’s reviews are probably more likely not to book with you over the prospect of paying for water or wifi than the threat of a noisy room. What’s especially annoying about money reveals in guest reviews, is that changing prices or doing away with wifi fees (for example) won’t erase the original post. So, you better hope people pay attention to manager replies!
All-in-all, guest reviews are great for getting constructive feedback: when you have lots of guests saying the same thing, often quite bluntly, you know it’s something to take seriously and improve on. Online reviews are especially useful in that way because people don’t mince their words in a comment section: John Smith might be passive aggressive but RoboJS77 will tell you exactly what he thinks!
At the same time, people think they have a license to kill with their words online and don’t contemplate the very real consequences of their comments when they’re protected by anonymity. Perhaps online reviews shouldn’t be so anonymous?