Scott from Brewster House just wrote a blog post today: 3 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation – Good, Bad, and Ugly which ties in perfectly to this.
Guests do talk on Yelp about B&B stays, while not as many review as on Tripadvisor, it’s enough that there is at least one review for more then half the B&Bs in the US.
There are also people that talk on twitter about B&Bs and link to their Yelp Reviews, I see several twitter posts per week about B&Bs and the guests are linking to their Yelp review.
While this is a good example of people tweeting about B&Bs and Yelping about there, I have also seen less then lovely reviews.
There are also MANY reviews out there that are over a year old and while it may seem like they ARE too old to be addressed, keep in mind, the one review a B&B has out there, even from 2009 is still the ONLY review someone will see if they search Yelp to find you.
Recommendation is to address the old reviews, better late then never. Apologize and acknowledge, even if the reviewer was loopy as a loon. Remember you can’t please everyone all the time, but ignoring it totally is worse then not responding at all.
Remember while the irate (possibly loopy or more possibly just someone that had a bad experience) guest may never return, the review is there to influence future guests who may be reading and even if it’s dated and old, it still leaves a negative impression in the subconscious.
The good news for B&Bs, is I had to search a bit to find some reviews that were recent that should be addressed.
Most of the B&B reviews (as opposed to hotels) were very good.
But it’s important that B&Bs address this review outlet, I could list at least 20 recent posts about B&Bs from the last month that should be addressed and many times that number that are older that should at least be followed up on.
But there are still lessons to be learned from ANY reviews, even ones that left “decent” ones.
A very brief mention of cereal that was stale, cold coffee, itchy (but clean) sheets, overly perfumey or harsh cleaning product smell comments are things that should be investigated. (I came across in many “good” reviews mentions of these things) And especially address it if there was more then one comment about it. It will improve your overall business. Don’t have a cow about it, instead learn from it.
Good reviews that have these mentions should be responded to as well to acknowledge and thank the reviewer for bringing it to your attention as well as thanking them for the review itself.
B&Bs need to find out if they are already listed and either claim their business page (free) https://biz.yelp.com/support or start a business page for the property. Yelp will send you activity updates as well as notifications if anyone has written a review, as well as the ability to respond to reviews.
As a side note, responding is good, responding when your defensive (and it’s very hard not to be) is not good.
I’ve seen a number of responses on both Tripadvisor and Yelp that it was very obvious to the reader that the owner response was written while the responder was in a state of having their knickers (understandably) in a twist instead of taking a couple of deep breathes first.
I’ve also seen responses to reviews that overall were very good and owner response decided to seize on the one small thing (out of 20 good things they mentioned) that a guest had a small problem with and pick it apart.
It’s important to remember that responses to reviews are public and while I encourage inns to respond, respond carefully, I’ve seen responses to good reviews that have done infinitely more harm then good in the eyes of potential guests that may read them.
Responding with “Check out our 62 perfect 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor if you’d like a real picture of guest satisfaction at “Jane Doe Inn”. There’s always one…..” to a review posted on both Yelp and Tripadvisor; to the future guest reading this is a big turn off. While it might be true, it’s not great review response etiquette and comes across as a very arrogant response.
Apologize, Acknowledge and Learn from them. Right or wrong, they are past guests and responses (or lack thereof) will be evaluated by future guests.
Considering reviews can detract or add to your bottom line and revenue stream, it’s important to address them. No one knows how many guests they have already lost by leaving a less then stellar review out there on the internet ignored and un-responded to.
Some related reading: The Art of Responding to review sites for restaurants and lodging.