Using AI to Respond to Travel Reviews
The Importance of Responding Professionally to Reviews
In the travel and hospitality industry, focusing on the needs of your customers is paramount. A scathing review can cause the ground to move in almost any company, and customer satisfaction forms the bedrock of your company’s reputation. It directly influences your growth, profitability, and sustainability.
Customer reviews, both positive and negative, provide a valuable lens to understand the customer’s journey, experience, and overall satisfaction. Negative reviews, while initially disheartening, should not be seen as a setback but as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.
Artificial Intelligence gives us extraordinary tools for responding to reviews. Below, we give an overview, Best Practices, and even Standard Operating Procedures that your travel company could use to perfect your processes.
How To Respond to Travel Reviews
If you don’t want to read this entire guide and would like AI to write review responses for you, just go to:
Simply copy and paste the review you would like to answer into the tool, and it will generate 2-5 different versions of pleasantly professional prose that shows your company’s commitment to service and the customer experience. The AI tool is trained on the best practices in this very guide and will let you focus on improving your service instead of searching for the words to answer that glowing, or not-so-glowing review.
Managing Negative Reviews
Here we have a not-so-glowing review that I found by Googling “worst TripAdvisor reviews of all time”. You know you are having a bad day when you open your inbox and see this lovely review:
“This so-called “hotel” is in fact some sort of large-scale psychological experiment about human suffering and gullibility…”
Take a Deep Breath – AI to Save the Day
Just use the MyTrip.AI Review Responder, go here to log in or create a free account.
After opening your account, you will be taken to the AI Travel Tools main page where you can select the Review Responder Tool.
Example AI Responses to the World’s Worst TripAdvisor Reviews
MyTrip.AI gives 2-5 responses, and it is important to pick the best option and then make any necessary edits, as it is not 100% perfect all of the time.
But as you’ll see here, nearly all responses are quite good compared to what you read in the wild on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.
These are the responses that we got on our first try with MyTrip.AI with a copy/paste the dreadful review:
Version 1: Dear [Customer], we’re truly sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. We strive to provide the best service possible, and it seems we fell short this time. We apologize for the condition of the sheets and the bathroom door. This is certainly not the level of cleanliness we aim for. We will address these issues with our housekeeping team to ensure they are rectified immediately. Additionally, we apologize for the inconvenience caused by the bathroom layout. We understand how frustrating it must have been. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our facilities and will take your feedback into consideration. As a token of our apology, we would like to offer you a complimentary upgrade during your next stay. We appreciate your feedback and hope to have the opportunity to better serve you in the future, when we can demonstrate the improvements we’ve made. Please email us at [email] or call us at [number] at your earliest convenience to discuss this further. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and bring this matter to our attention.
Version 2: Dear [Customer], we appreciate your feedback and understand your frustration. We’re sorry to hear about the condition of the sheets and the bathroom door. This is definitely not the level of cleanliness we strive for. Our housekeeping team will be retrained and reminded of our high standards to ensure such instances do not happen again. Furthermore, we apologize for the inconvenience caused by the cramped bathroom layout. We will evaluate the design and make necessary changes to enhance the comfort of our guests. We want to make it right for you, so please accept our offer of a complimentary one-night stay during your next visit. We value your business and hope to have the opportunity to exceed your expectations in the future. Thank you for bringing these concerns to our attention.
Version 3: Dear [Customer], we’re truly sorry that we failed to meet your expectations during your stay. We apologize for the condition of the sheets, which is not reflective of our usual standards. Our housekeeping team will be given additional training to ensure this does not happen again. Additionally, we regret the state of the bathroom door and the inconveniences caused by its design. We are actively working on renovating our rooms and facilities to provide a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for our guests. As a gesture of goodwill, we would like to offer you a complimentary spa treatment during your next visit to show you the improvements we’ve made. We truly value your feedback and hope to have the opportunity to restore your faith in our hotel. Please reach out to us via email at [email] or call us directly at [number] so we can discuss this further. Thank you for your review, and we appreciate your understanding as we strive to enhance our guests’ experiences.
That Feels Better!
You Don’t Want All 5-star Reviews
Research from GetApp has shown that the most influential reviews for product purchases fall within an average star rating of 4.2 to 4.5. Products flaunting perfect five-star ratings surprisingly wielded less influence. This counter-intuitive trend can likely be attributed to modern consumers’ skepticism, with a sense of “too good to be true” when they encounter flawless reviews. It appears that the presence of a few less-than-perfect reviews not only lowers a product’s average star rating but can actually contribute to business growth.
Why is there skepticism toward five-star reviews? It likely boils down to authenticity.
A measure of skepticism is ingrained in all of us. We understand that nothing is truly perfect. Thus, when consumers encounter a product with only five-star reviews, their instincts kick in, triggering a sense of suspicion. This natural skepticism functions as a sort of authenticity detector, questioning the credibility of a product with only perfect ratings.
Best Practices for Responding to Negative Reviews
Responding to negative reviews can sometimes be challenging, but it’s a crucial aspect of customer service and reputation management. Each response should be thoughtful, empathetic, and solution-focused, always keeping in mind the customer’s needs and concerns. This not only helps in resolving the immediate issues brought up by the unhappy customer but also shows potential customers that your company is committed to service quality, values feedback, and is constantly striving to enhance the customer experience. Remember, every negative review is an opportunity for improvement, and a chance to demonstrate to both current and potential customers that you genuinely care about their experiences.
20 Tips and Best Practices
- Acknowledge and Apologize: Start by recognizing the customer’s concerns and apologize sincerely for any mistakes.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re truly sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. We strive to provide the best service possible, and it seems we fell short this time.”
- Avoid Being Defensive: It’s natural to feel attacked when you receive negative feedback, but avoid responding defensively.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we appreciate your feedback and understand your frustration. We’ll take your comments into account as we work on improving our service.”
- Address Specific Issues: If the reviewer has mentioned specific issues, address each of them directly.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re sorry to hear about the long waiting time and the quality of the room service. We’re addressing these issues with our team.”
- Provide an Explanation if Necessary: If there was a valid reason for the issue, explain it without sounding defensive or making excuses.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we apologize for the delay at check-in. There was an unexpected system glitch that caused the delay, and we’re working on preventing such issues in the future.”
- Show Empathy: Make sure your response shows understanding and empathy towards the customer’s experience.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we can understand how frustrating it must have been to face such issues during your stay. We’re really sorry for the inconvenience.”
- Offer to Make It Right: If possible, offer a solution or compensation to make up for the negative experience.
Example: “Dear [Customer], as a token of our apology, we would like to offer you a complimentary meal during your next stay.”
- Ask for Another Chance: Ask the customer to reconsider your business in the future, assuring them you’re making changes.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we hope to have the opportunity to better serve you in the future, when we can demonstrate the improvements we’ve made.”
- Take the Conversation Offline: If the issue is complicated or sensitive, suggest moving the conversation to private messages or a phone call.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we would like to discuss this further with you. Please email us at [email] or call us at [number] at your earliest convenience.”
- Thank the Reviewer: Regardless of their feedback, thank the customer for taking the time to leave a review.
Example: “Dear [Customer], thank you for taking the time to share your experience and bring this matter to our attention.”
- Keep the Response Professional and Polite: No matter how negative the review, maintain a professional and courteous tone.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we regret that your experience did not meet your expectations; please accept our sincerest apologies.”
- Publicize Your Improvements: If you’ve made improvements since the review was posted, let the customer know.
Example: “Dear [Customer], since your visit, we’ve upgraded our booking system to ensure a smoother check-in process.”
- Show You’re Learning: Indicate that you’re taking their feedback on board and learning from it.
Example: “Dear [Customer], your feedback is invaluable in helping us improve. We’re taking immediate steps to address the issues you’ve raised.”
- Reiterate Your Commitment to Customer Satisfaction: Make sure the customer knows that their satisfaction is your priority.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re committed to ensuring our customers have a memorable experience, and we’re sorry to hear that we did notmeet that standard in your case.”
- Avoid Generic Responses: Tailor your response to each individual review, it shows you value each customer’s feedback.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we appreciate your comments regarding the cleanliness of our rooms. We take pride in our cleanliness standards, and it’s clear we missed the mark with your room.”
- Act Promptly: Respond to negative reviews as soon as possible to show that you’re attentive and proactive.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we just came across your review and we’re very sorry to hear about your experience. We wish to address this immediately.”
- Ask for Details if Necessary: If the review is vague, ask for more details so you can properly address the issue.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re sorry to hear about your negative experience. Could you please provide more details about the situation so we can address it appropriately?”
- Highlight Positive Aspects: If the review has any positive points, thank them for that and assure them of improvement in areas they found lacking.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re pleased to hear that you enjoyed our location and staff. We’re sorry that our room service didn’t meet your expectations and we’re working on it.”
- Admit Your Mistakes: If you know you were in the wrong, admit it. Honesty builds trust.
Example: “Dear [Customer], you’re absolutely right. We failed to deliver the level of service we pride ourselves on and for that, we sincerely apologize.”
- Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews: Ignoring negative feedback can make the situation worse. Always address them.
Example: “Dear [Customer], we’re sorry that we missed your previous review. We appreciate your feedback and are eager to address your concerns.”
- Follow Up: If you promised to take action, follow up with the customer to let them know what steps you’ve taken.
Example: “Dear [Customer], as promised, we’ve spoken to our staff about your feedback and have taken steps to ensure a similar situation does not happen in the future. We hope you’ll give us another chance.”
Remember, every negative review is an opportunity for improvement and to show potential customers that you care about your service quality.
Benefiting From Positive Reviews
Positive reviews can be powerful assets that contribute to the overall success of a travel company. Here is how to get maximum benefit from your positive reviews.
First, request permission from satisfied customers to use their reviews as promotional materials.
The importance of this first step cannot be understated. You may be violating privacy laws, risking legal threats or action, or just being insensitive to your guests.
Second, these guests, with permission, should become your “evangelists”.
By implementing these ideas, you can harness the power of positive reviews to strengthen your marketing efforts, boost company morale, build trust with potential customers, and showcase the exceptional experiences your travel company offers.
Top 15 Ways to Use Positive Reviews
- Create visually appealing graphics featuring snippets of positive reviews and post them on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn.
- Incorporate positive review quotes into your email marketing campaigns and in your company’s newsletter.
- Use positive reviews as testimonials on your website’s homepage or dedicated testimonial page.
- Feature customer testimonials (again, with their consent) in promotional videos.
- Create a video series highlighting different positive reviews and share them on YouTube.
- Design attractive infographics that showcase key statistics from positive reviews.
- Use positive reviews as part of your company’s print advertising campaigns.
- Incorporate positive review quotes in your digital ad creatives.
- Collaborate with influencers or bloggers to feature positive reviews in their content.
- Collaborate with local tourism boards or industry associations to share positive reviews in joint marketing campaigns.
- Create case studies based on positive reviews to showcase customer success stories.
- Develop customer success stories in the form of blog posts or articles.
- Organize live events or webinars where satisfied customers can share their experiences.
- Create a dedicated section on your website to showcase positive reviews and customer feedback.
- Use positive reviews as social proof in your sales proposals and all of your sales materials.
Use Positive Reviews to Boost Team Morale
A positive review is a cause for celebration, and here are some ideas of how to share positive reviews with your employees to boost company morale and reinforce the impact of their work.
- Display positive review quotes prominently in your physical locations or office spaces.
- Celebrate positive reviews internally by highlighting them in team meetings or newsletters.
- Create a “Review of the Week/Month” program where outstanding reviews are recognized and rewarded.
- Share positive reviews in internal communication channels to inspire and motivate your team.
- Use positive reviews to enhance your recruitment efforts and showcase a positive work environment.
- Incorporate positive review quotes in your company’s annual reports or financial presentations.
The Review Management Process SOPs for Travel Companies
This comprehensive guide provides Standard Operating Procedures for managing customer reviews effectively in your travel company. Regularly reviewing and updating your SOPs to ensure they continue to meet your business needs is also essential. This will help maintain a positive brand image, foster better relationships with your customers, and ultimately lead to business growth.
SOPs and best practices for managing customer reviews:
1. Claim Your Business Listings and Understand the Policies of Each Review Site
Task: Claim your business on all relevant review sites.
Responsible Party: Manager or designated team member
- Register your business on all relevant review sites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Google Reviews, etc.
- Fill out all business information accurately and completely.
- Understand the policies of each review site.
TripAdvisor, who has a little experience with travel reviews, has these different subjects that cover the finer points of ethically managing your reviews:
- Review Fraud Consequences
- Owners Reporting Blackmail by Traveler
- Owners Reporting a Review
- Write a Management Response
- Reported Reviews that Remain Published
- Owners Offering Incentives
- Editing or Deleting Management Responses
2. Set Up Review Monitoring
Task: Monitor all major review sites daily.
Responsible Party: Assigned team member(s)
- Use a review monitoring software such as Birdeye, or Mentionlytics, or alternatively log into each review platform daily.
- Check for new reviews.
- Document each review in your tracking system (software or a spreadsheet, for example) including the reviewer’s name, date, key points of the review, and the rating.
3. Categorizing Reviews
Task: Categorize each review as either positive (4-5 stars), neutral (3 stars), or negative (1-2 stars).
Responsible Party: Assigned team member(s)
- Based on the rating, categorize each review.
- In your tracking system, mark each review with its respective category.
4. Drafting Responses to Reviews
Task: Draft a response to each review.
Responsible Party: Assigned team member(s) or manager for negative reviews
- For each category of reviews, draft a response according to the SOP provided earlier.
- Utilize review response templates for common scenarios but customize them for each specific review.
- Use the MyTrip.AI’s Review Responder Tool to generate responses based upon these best practices.
5. Review Approval and Posting
Task: Review responses to ensure they’re appropriate and in line with the company’s tone and values. Post approved responses.
Responsible Party: Manager or assigned team member(s)
- Review each response to ensure it’s respectful and professional, and addresses the customer’s comments.
- Make any necessary changes.
- Post the approved responses to the respective reviews on the review platforms.
6. Follow Up and Improvement
Task: Follow up with customers if necessary and make note of common issues for improvement.
Responsible Party: Manager
- If a customer has been asked to contact you directly or if you’ve promised further action, ensure this is followed up on.
- Regularly review the tracking system for common issues or complaints.
- Address these issues in team meetings and implement necessary improvements.
7. Encouraging Reviews
Task: Encourage satisfied customers to leave a review.
Responsible Party: All team members
- After a customer’s stay or tour, thank them and ask if they were happy with their experience.
- If they were, encourage them to share their experience on review sites.
- If they weren’t, address their concerns directly and take feedback for improvement.
Review Gating Special Concerns
When a business first asks customers for their feedback privately and then only directs those with positive feedback to leave a public review, this is known as “Review Gating”. However, it’s essential to note that review gating is against the guidelines of some platforms, like Google, as it may create a biased, skewed representation of customer satisfaction. With that said, it can still be approached in a way that respects the rules of review platforms and maintains ethical business practices.
Here is what Google says about requesting reviews:
“Use best practices to get reviews
You can request reviews from customers by sharing a URL specific to your business.
You can encourage your customers to spread the word about your business through Google reviews with these best practices:
- Verify your Business Profile: This makes your business information show up on Maps, Search, and other Google services. To respond to a review, you must have a verified business.
- Remind customers to leave reviews: Let them know it’s quick and easy to leave reviews. Business owners shouldn’t offer incentives to customers to leave reviews. You can also get customers to leave reviews if you create and share a link.
- Reply to reviews to build customer trust: Your customers will notice your business values their input if you read and reply to their reviews.
- Value all reviews: Reviews are useful for potential customers when they’re honest and objective. Customers find a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy. You can always respond to a review to show the customers that you care and provide additional context. If the review doesn’t follow our posting guidelines, you can request its removal.
Share a link to leave a review
You can create and share a link for customers to leave reviews. To get customers to use the link:
- Include it in thank you emails.
- Add it at the end of a chat interaction.
- Include it on your receipts.
- Go to your Business Profile. Learn how to find your profile.
- To find your review link:
- With Google Search, select Ask for reviews.
- With Google Maps, select Customers Reviews Get more reviews.
- Share the link with your customers directly or use the sharing options provided.”
Complementing Google’s recommendations, here’s a detailed approach:
Step 1: Encourage Private Feedback
After a customer’s stay or tour, send them an email or a message thanking them for choosing your services. In this message, ask for their feedback on their experience. This could be in the form of a simple question like, “How did you enjoy your stay/tour with us?” or you could provide a feedback form for them to fill out.
Example: “Dear [Customer], Thank you for choosing [Your Company]. We hope you enjoyed your stay/tour. As we continuously strive to improve our services, we would greatly appreciate your feedback. Please share your experience with us.”
Step 2: Respond Based on Feedback
After receiving their feedback, you can then respond accordingly.
If they had a positive experience, thank them and ask them to share their experience on a public review site.
Example: “Dear [Customer], We’re delighted to hear that you had a great experience with us. It would mean a lot to us if you could share your experience on [Review Site] so others can learn about our services.”
If they had a negative experience, apologize, and address their concerns directly. Offer a resolution and reassure them that you’re working on the issues they faced.
Example: “Dear [Customer], We’re very sorry to hear about your experience. We appreciate your feedback and are working to address the concerns you raised.”
This approach shows all customers that you value their feedback, and it gives you the chance to rectify any issues before a negative review is publicly posted. But remember, it’s crucial to handle this process transparently and ethically, as customers value authenticity and may not respond positively to perceived manipulation.
8. Regular Team Training
Task: Conduct regular team training based on review feedback.
Responsible Party: Manager
- Identify common areas of complaints or suggestions from reviews.
- Develop training programs to address these areas and improve customer service.
9. Conducting Periodic Review Audits
Task: Perform an audit of your reviews and your responses.
Responsible Party: Manager
- Regularly perform an audit of your reviews and responses.
- Look for trends in the feedback and identify any changes in the volume or nature of reviews.
10. Integrating Reviews into Your Marketing
Task: Use positive reviews in your marketing materials.
Responsible Party: The marketing team
- Identify positive reviews that can be used as testimonials.
- With permission, feature these testimonials on your website, social media, and other marketing materials.
11. Implementing Review Management Software
Task: Implement a review management software to streamline the review management process.
Responsible Party: Manager, IT team
- Choose a review management software that fits your needs and budget. Some top options include Feefo, Trustpilot, EmbedReviews, NiceJob, and Reputation.com1.
- Set up the software with the help of your IT team. Make sure it’s integrated with all the review platforms you’re using.
- Train your team on how to use the software effectively.
- The benefits of using an online review management software include saving time, giving authority to your brand, ranking higher in Google search, providing social proof, and increasing conversion rates and sales.
Online Reputation Management
In today’s digital world, the importance of monitoring your online reputation cannot be overstated. With the proliferation of social media channels, review sites, blogs, news sites, and forums, your brand’s reputation can be shaped in countless ways and across myriad platforms. Be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Yelp, Google Reviews, Airbnb, Expedia, Hotels.com, or hundreds of other sites, every mention of your brand matters.
Real-time updates whenever your brand is mentioned give you the power to get ahead of the curve and own the conversation, rather than simply being a participant in the discussion. The real power of Social Media Monitoring lies in its ability to discover feedback, both positive and negative, that might otherwise remain hidden in the vast expanse of the internet. By proactively monitoring and responding to these mentions, you can control the narrative, rectify issues, and leverage positive feedback to further enhance your brand’s reputation.
Managing your reputation and your reviews online can be challenging and have major impacts on your travel business. AI, and innovative tools such as MyTrip.AI’s Review Responder Tool can help you transform the pain of responding to negative reviews into a pleasure that helps your travel company improve and transform the travel experience for future customers.