How Tour Operators Should Respond to Negative Reviews

Whether we want to admit it or not, negative reviews are part of any business. It doesn’t matter how professional your service is or how good you are at running your roods. Even if you work really hard to earn great reviews, bad reviews might still come.However, they could actually help your business grow.

Dealing with negative reviews is just something that you will have to face at one point or another, just like you had to learn how to form a response to positive customer feedback as well.

Both take time and patience, but can absolutely be done. This isn’t rocket science, in this quick guide, we’ll review the right process to follow.

Reacting to bad feedback

The first thing that you need to know when learning how to respond to negative reviews is determining whether or not you need to respond to them. Stay with me; sometimes a negative is someone who is upset or angry and just starts spamming you.

These reviews are untrue and filled with all sorts of inflammatory comments that are used specifically for the reason of getting you upset and replying back. If you determine that the ‘unsatisfied customer’ is simply spamming you and there is no truth behind what they are, in fact, saying, you don’t need to respond to it.

If, on the other hand, you have a negative review that actually has some depth to it — and is clearly from someone who is upset about something in particular with your business, no matter how trivial it may seem to you — you will need to reply back to it.

How to respond to negative reviews

Responding to negative reviews requires taking a deep breath and pushing aside your own personal reaction to the situation, first and foremost. If you’re upset and angry, this will certainly come through in the message.  

responding-to-negative-reviews

You need to push aside your own thoughts and focus on the professionalism  of your tour company. How you respond to the negative review will reflect on your business and how much importance you give to your customers and the way you choose to make them feel heard and important. For this reason, you’ll want to get it right.

1. Get the facts & organize your thoughts

When you leave a response to the negative review, you will want to make sure that you address their points. Every point that they bring up, make sure you address it in your response.  Stick to the facts and make sure that you address the thoughts that they left on the review. 

For example: if someone says “I thought the tour was overpriced”, make sure that you acknowledge that with something along the lines of “I’m sorry to hear you were thought our tour was overpriced” etc.  Make the reviewer (and the public reading it) know that you read the review through, that you understood it, and can interpret their thoughts.

2. Craft a private response

When you strip it all away, remember that you’re going to be mad when you read the review.  Working hard and getting a negative outcome isn’t the best feeling. You’ll probably be thinking something along the lines of: “What the heck?  That’s not even accurate! They’re just making something sound worse than it is, and I hope they never come back…” etc.  

This is totally normal and expected, especially when it’s about  details that you can’t change.  However, you need to get your anger and frustration out before you respond in private and before you reply back to the review itself. Privately responding alongside a public response is a good idea. Also, remember that responding publicly to bad reviews also shows the rest of your customers and potential customers that you care and are attentive.

3. Prepare a public response

When you are responding to the negative review publicly, you need to remember that a lot of people will see it.  Especially those who are interested in your tours and are deliberately hunting for negative reviews to watch for any issues that will help them decide to check you out or not.  

As such, you’ll want to make sure that you check your emotions at the door and focus on responding to the facts and their thoughts. Stay calm, keep it professional, and if all else fails, use your “customer service voice”. Put your full attention on empathizing and offering solutions. 

A fluffy apology with zero solutions or actionable items could make things worse.

A superb example for dealing with negative online reviews by  andBeyond Travel, one of the world’s leading luxury sustainable safari tour operators.

The do's for dealing with negative reviews

Here are some great options to consider for what you should do when handling negative reviews: 

  • Do make sure that you respond quickly. After you’ve had your private response, create a public one in a timely manner.
  • Do respond with an appropriate emotion if applicable. The reviewer and readers want to know that you are not a robot and that you understand and empathize with their genuine concerns or dissatisfaction.
  • Do keep your tone pleasant and personal when talking. Again, avoid the monotone and also make sure that you aren’t stepping over the line in terms of being too personal.

The don’ts for dealing with negative reviews

There are also some don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with negative reviews. Take note of these important points:

  • Don’t take the bait to any of the emotional responses that they have put in there. No matter how much you may want to respond to their points, keep it professional.
  • Don’t argue with their genuine points, even if you feel they’re wrong. They have a right to express their opinion, so make sure you respect that. You don’t want to shoot them down, because it simply comes back on you.
  • Don’t delete or ignore the review. If a company only has positive reviews, it’s super sketchy. If they have negative reviews that a company doesn’t acknowledge, it’s not great either. Remember to respond to the deserving negative reviews and do not delete them.

Wrapping up

While we would all like to think that our own businesses are the exception to the rule, negative reviews are just part of how you grow. The key, of course, is to make sure that you learn from every negative review that your business receives. 

You can improve your business using negative feedback to guide you. You’ll also find that you gain customer respect and, as a consequence, strengthen your customer service skills as an individual as well as a public company profile.

All in all, the best way to respond to negative reviews is to do so quickly, calmly, professionally, and conclusively. This will keep the reviewers feeling like they’ve been heard, future searchers content, and your business looking its best.

The process of responding to negative reviews doesn’t have to be torture. You just need to focus on the right key elements to make the most out of it for your tour operator business.

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