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5 Ways To Get A Negative Online Review

By Rebecca White
Published on November 18, 2016

No-one really wants to receive a negative online review or recommendation right?

TripAdvisor Reviews, Facebook Recommendations and Google Star Ratings are just three of the many places customers can leave reviews about your experience. They are also three highly trusted sources used by your customers and visitors when planning and booking travel.

So, if you are getting negative reviews in any online website, this means lower position in that product category for your area, less chance of featuring in an organic search result of that platform, which leads to missed bookings or visitors for your tourism experience.

After working with many tourism experiences over the years, plus being a frequent traveller myself, I’ve put together 5 reasons why you may receive a negative review, including some tips on how to avoid them in the future.

1. Wrong Customers

The simplest way to get a negative review is to attract the wrong customer to your tourism experience.

A wrong customer is someone whose wants or needs are not met by your experience and dont love what you offer. For example:

  • A family with young kids booking into non-child friendly accommodation
  • A couple after an intimate wine tasting experience visiting a large cellar door packed with coach-loads of customers.

It’s really important to remember that you are NOT in business for everyone.

You are in business for those customers who love what you offer, be it your accommodation, tour, event, attraction, restaurant, cafe, visitor centre or hire product.

What you can do instead:

  • Identify your Ideal Customer – know who they are so well that you can describe them as a single person.
  • From there, focus your product development, marketing messages and marketing tactics only on your Ideal Customer.

When you do this, you will find over time that you will attract less non-ideal (aka wrong) customers and more Ideal Customers – the ones more likely to leave you a fantastic online review!

2. Overpromise & Underdeliver

When you overpromise and underdeliver, your customers will feel they were misled about your product offering and their expectations weren’t met.

If this happens to your customers, you can pretty much guarantee a negative review will be coming your way.

This can happen a couple of ways, such as:

Misleading name

A classic example is having a name that misrepresents what your experience is, such as using the word “Resort” or “Luxury” in your name, when that isn’t want your product is offering.

For example, having a pool at your 3-star motel doesn’t mean you are a Resort.

Misleading photos & descriptions

Wrong descriptions or omitting information is another an easy way to mislead and let customers down.

A while ago I booked a holiday house that said they had a “3-bedroom cottage, great for families”.

However they failed to tell us that one bedroom could only be accessed by walking through another bedroom, which was a fail on privacy and noise.

Photos that omit important information are another way to mislead.

Pictures may tell a 1000 words, but they can also omit a 1000 words!

In the same holiday house, it was described as “beachfront” with a beautiful photo showing the beach from the front lawn.

Unfortunately the photo was taken from the owners beachfront house of which was located between the cottage (no beach view) and beach, another important omission by the owners which was misleading.

What you can do to avoid:

Ensure your marketing messages, images and videos correctly show and explain your experience in full.

  • Ensure your business name correctly reflects your product offering
  • Describe your facilities in full and are factually correct
  • Include a video tour of your product, or a floor plan if relevant, so customers are very clear on what to expect

3. Annoying Your Customers

You can have the best experience in the world, but if you have a few small niggles, they may be enough to annoy a customer enough that they decide to leave a negative review.

From a recent holiday, here are some of the ways I got annoyed when travelling.*

  • Unable to find a cellar door/restaurant/accommodation due to poor signage or unclear numbering
  • Something broken or not working
  • Unable to work out how to use a TV or kitchen appliance
  • Getting no answer or a message bank when trying to contact the owner when we needed them for the above two issues
  • Given a wrong key-safe code for our accommodation key and then not being able to get hold of the owners for over an hour to fix the problem (this has happened to us twice after a long day of travelling with young kids – Not happy!)

*Note. I provided feedback to the relevant tourism operators in person or email (not via a review ) so they could fix for future customers!

What you can do to avoid:

Make it easy for customers to provide feedback or get things fixed when they are experiencing your product.

This means they aren’t left suffering in silence or feel they need to vent online with a negative review. 

  • Provide a 24/7 phone number customers can reach someone on who can solve their problem ASAP, and ideally not going to message bank
  • If customers tell you something is broken, fix it, or replace it
  • If customers need more explanation of how things work, provide that extra explanation

4. Ho-Hum Staff

If you run your own business and dont have staff, this isn’t normally an issue.

However, if you employ staff, you may find they aren’t as passionate about your tourism experience as you are, which may negatively impact a visitor’s experience of your business.

What you can do to avoid:

If you have staff who are your main contact with customers, it is ESSENTIAL they understand that looking after your customers is their #1 priority.

Make sure they understand that you will back them happily to go the extra mile to make sure customers have a fantastic experience.

To help you do this:

  • Employ staff who love people!
  • Clearly outline your customer service expectations from day one.
  • Share your vision with staff about why you love your tourism experience. Your enthusiasm and passion will no-doubt rub off!
  • Reward staff for fantastic customer service. This could be a regular customer service awards, a small gift etc.
  • Give staff permission to solve a customer’s problem as quickly as possible, without having to consult with you or other senior staff especially if there is only a small cost impact involved.

5. Incorrect Pricing

Set your prices too low and you may attract price-sensitive customers.

These are customers who are NOT happy that they have to spend extra money to buy/do/see other parts of your tourism offering.

They will happily let everyone else know they are unhappy about it online via a negative review.

Set your prices too high, and you will be attracting customers who have higher expectations of what your tourism offering can actually deliver, and you will be setting yourself up to overpromise and underdeliver (#2).

What you can do to avoid:

When you are clear on your Ideal Customer (#1), ask yourself:

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Over to you

  • Hopefully we have given you a few ideas on how to avoid receiving negative online reviews in the future.
  • Are there other ways you have attracted a negative online review for your Tourism experience our Tourism Community can learn from?!

 

This blog post was originally published in 2016 and was updated for accuracy most recently in December 2018

 

 

Rebecca White

Rebecca is a tourism marketing specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Rebecca loves working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies. Her specialty areas are tourism marketing strategy, visitor servicing, visitor engagement, social media, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing & blogging.

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  1. Les Wright on at

    Wonderful blog. This additional information helps me better understand the information that we assembled in the first session of the recent mentoring program. Thank you

    • Thanks Les, great to hear you found it helpful and it is helping pull some of your mentoring learnings together.

  2. Rosa on at

    Hi Rebecca, what a great post! Wrong custumer, wrong message, wrong client service or wrong price are equal to wrong marketing strategy. I think clients can forgive fails or honest mistakes, many of them will provide constructive feedback in private, but marketing issues are what more often take complains online and make them public

    • Thanks Rosa, glad you found it helpful. Yes, I believe customers will be forgiving of a few small things, but when they add it is when it can turn into a public complaint!

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