First things first: you are replying to all TripAdvisor (and Yelp) reviews, right? I hope you are.
In fact, it’s a good idea to make it an everyday habit to respond to your reviews. A few of you might wonder if you should even reply at all to reviews. Does it actually help, or is it just a waste of time? Here’s the answer — in a user survey conducted by Phocuswright, one of the results was this: “57% of users agreed that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally makes me more likely to book it.” I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to suggest that this is also relevant to tour operators.
Other statistics from TripAdvisor:
- “78% of users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews ‘makes me believe that it cares more about its guests'”
- “64% of users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review ‘makes me less likely to book that hotel'”
We’ll deal with negative reviews in a second, but let’s get to some general principles.
How should one respond to a review? To know the answer to this, we need to consider WHY we are responding to reviews. A lot of tour operators respond to reviews without taking the time to think, “Why am I actually doing this?”
The primary goal of responding to a review is to help you get bookings. Will you get more? Sure. TripAdvisor’s own statistics show that listings with 50% of reviews responded to are 24% more likely to receive an inquiry!
The secondary goal of responding to a review is make whoever is reading want to keep reading. We shouldn’t be responding to reviews just for the sake of it.
There’s three basic rules to achieve this:
- Keep It Informal
- Keep It Short
- Keep It Personal
Make your response read like a personal email you would send in private.
It’s amazing how many people screw this one up. I’ve looked at hundreds of profiles on TripAdvisor, and maybe 5-10% of tour operators get this right.
What are people looking for when they read responses? Why would they read it? They’re looking to see if you are a likable person. This means you’ll get more bookings if people can see that your guests make a personal connection with your business.
Here’s how to achieve that:
1. Be Casual. Taking your marketing cues from the pages of the AT&T Manual for Customer Service is not clever, yet so many do it!
I find the advice on the internet about “how to respond to reviews” inadequate. Avoid those formal, corporate-sounding replies that no one would ever want to read yet which so many are telling you to write. Use your reply to show a bit of PERSONALITY (unless you actually enjoy boring people!).
The following example (edited to make it anonymous) is what I mean. It might seem fine to you, but stop for a second here: what is the business owner actually saying? It’s nothing besides empty words. Dragging your words straight out of Corporate Customer Service 101 is not going to help you get more bookings.
“Thanks so much for your review. I’m delighted you found that booking our tour was the right decision and you and your family had such a good time. We trust you will all enjoy the rest of your travels here just as much! Thanks again for the feedback and choosing our tour. Regards”
This is generic. How would this reply ever help an operator get more business?
2. Keep It Short and Sweet. Use as many words as necessary and not one more. Here’s an example straight from TripAdvisor that did a decent job:
“Thank-you for taking the time to leave a review. Your family was a lot of fun. You were a champ! It was a pleasure showing you around.”
3. Be Personal. Remember that people on holiday want to come home with precious memories. You may not think you’re special, but a lot of people get a real kick out of building a personal connection with their tour guide. The tour guide will often be the only local they ever meet! Show that this could happen in your responses.
The above-quoted response was good and gave a sense of personal connection, but it still could have been better. It didn’t mention personal details or a fun thing that happened on the trip.
This response, copied straight from TripAdvisor, is perfect:
“First review you have ever done I can see! Thank-you. Loved showing you around. Best wishes in your future together and thanks for letting me share part of your honeymoon with you :)”
4. Skip the Sales Pitch. Many tour operators wisely see responding to reviews as the opportunity it is to help sell their business. But that doesn’t mean you should be outright selling your service in the MIDDLE of a personal response. Avoid any naked selling. As above, you “sell” your tours in your response by showing real humanity, warmth, connection and personality.
This is an actual example of someone inserting a sales pitch into their response:
“I am especially pleased you enjoyed the food – we invest a significant amount of time into sourcing and maintaining the quality and value of this part of our service from our local suppliers.”
People have a lot of reviews to read. If the first response they see from you is boring and pitchy, they won’t read any more. Lose the sales stuff, and show your human side. If your TripAdvisor responses are full of personality and warmth, they’ll keep on reading, and you may just land the booking.
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