Summer vacation is upon us and this means extra quality times with my littles. So I took them down for a treat at our favourite local pizzeria. All kids love pizza, especially when being eaten in company of a happy mama sipping bubbles. Even better if the pizzeria is owned by a lovely lady we are lucky to call a friend.

“How is business ?” I inquire. Women in business tacitly know that this is one of the main subjects playing on the mind of any entrepreneurial soul.

“Oh quite good, packed as usual as you can see.” My friend replies.

“Quite lucky we got a table then.” I’m happy to notice.

“Always for my best customers.” Comes the warm, yet polite reply. “You’re an expert in online marketing. Do you know anything about reviews on Tripadvisor ?”

“I know enough. Anything I can help with ?” As I sip slowly from my delicious glass of bubbles.

“Rather worried. We got two bad reviews. Would you have a look ?” And she gives me an anxious look.

So I pull out my iPhone and look up her business on Tripadvisor and start going through the reviews. There are indeed a few that stand out as particularly negative. One of them even gets quite personal, commenting on the owner’s family, which is totally uncalled for.

Digitally empowered consumers

Now I love the digitally conntected world we live in. Consumers are more empowered than ever before, having information available at the click of a button, allowing him to make informed decisions. Yet why does this newly found empowerment mean that you have to be repetitively negative towards people.

Indeed, when I pull up both profiles for the negative comments, I see that these are Tripadvisor users only when it suits them, ie only if it’s to leave negative feedback. Neither one of those users ever left a positive review anywhere else. It’s sad really, if that is all that your personal power amounts to. Being unable to open your mouth and engage in a discussion with somebody. Tell them straight to their face that you’re disgruntled and why. Users are thus avoiding the possibility that the restaurant owner might not have been aware of the unpleasant experience and depriving this owner of an opportunity to make a commercial geste.

No instead, such individuals prefer to be safely in the comfort of their room, hidden quietly behind their computer screens as they spit out their venom and then proudly hit the submit button. It’s just pathetic. Learn to speak up. And preferably in a normal conversation way, without being aggressive or demeaning.

My own bad experience on Tripadvisor

Have I ever left negative reviews ? Hell yes, I sure have. But those reviews were written way after I had clearly expressed my dissatisfaction and that the establishment’s management didn’t value my custom enough to do something about it.

One particular incidence which I would recount is a visit to Athens when I stayed in the Crowne Plaza Hotel with my boyfriend. On our last day there, our hotel room was subjected to theft. We had lost valuable items like two iPads, perfume, cigarettes, jewellery and make-up. Hotel management checked the logs for enters into our room and noticed only the maid had been in. But the maid had been working at the hotel for more than twenty years, so it couldn’t possibly be her.

Snort ! She’s the only one who entered. Things were stolen. I rest my case, right? But no, the hotel did nothing to compensate for our loss. When I looked it up on Tripadvisor later, I found other similar reviews, for the same hotel, same scenario, same reaction from hotel management.

At that, I’ll admit I didn’t hesitate to write my bad review. A review which I had warned the hotel I would write if they did nothing to compensate me. They were given a choice and chose poorly. What more can I say. Here I am again today still talking about this bad experience.

However those other losers on Tripadvisor, instead of telling my friend what was wrong with their dinner at her restaurant, they just went home and wrote a stupid review. Full of spelling mistakes at that.

How to react to negative reviews on Tripadvisor

If you’re a business owner, you won’t like bad reviews at all. Nobody likes critique. Yet it might be an important place to learn and to grow. So take a step back and examine with a critical mind what is in fact being said. Could there be truth in the comment ? What can you do better to improve the experience for your guests ?

Next I strongly advise you to react to the review. Also for the benefit of other people reading the review. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. See if there is something you can do in return to make it up to that unhappy customer. Remember, it’s always cheaper and easier to keep an existing customer happy than to win a new customer.

 

Now I warmly recommend our local pizzeria. The food is good and the price is right. The setting is cosy and the service always has a personal touch. Besides, I love going there for bubbles and cocktails. It might be a secret to some, but my friend makes wicked cocktails.

 

What do you think ? Do you first voice your concerns before writing a negative review, or do you think that’s your prerogative ? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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