The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool has hit the UK press today – for charging one of their guests £100 for leaving them a bad review on TripAdvisor.
Aside from the negative review, the small hotel is now facing national press coverage, and has the ignited conversations about the legalities of such fines and also – what should or shouldn’t the hotel have done?
Review sites and the Hospitality Industry
With 315 million unique monthly visitors, TripAdvisor has grown to be the “go to” website for independent opinion and commentary online for the travel and hospitality industry.
Went it first launched, visitors were able to research freely, and as user-generated content increased leave unsubstantiated reviews, questions and comments.
The site is now seen as extremely authoritative in the eyes of the search engines and if the reviews mention the establishment or company name, it’s very likely that the reviews will rank highly.
The large hotel chains are employing full time teams to look after their TripAdvisor reviews. Most of the hotels that Igniyte work with take TripAdvisor extremely seriously, and where possible, respond to the negative reviews – along with the positive reviews. Apologising for bad service and thanking lovely comments is part of these re-adjusted communications plans.
KPI’s for the hospitality industry are now likely to feature +4 star reviews on TripAdvisor with the hopes of becoming one of the top 10 hotels in their location.
This is all great practice where larger hotel chains have the budget and resource to focus efforts on managing their online reviews – but Igniyte ask – what about the cheap and cheerful hotels – how does this small hotel in Blackpool get themselves out of today’s press focus, and recover from the negative reviews, comments and press that have followed.
Igniyte’s Advice The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool
- It was a mistake to charge the £100 fee – particularly taking the monies without the guest’s knowledge. There is no law in the UK that prohibits free commentary or expression, and unless the review was particularly defamatory or contravened TripAdvisor’s own T&C’s, it will stay. A heart-felt apology for their unsatisfactory stay would have been better reading for other potential guests researching them.
- A positive review strategy begins offline. Looking after guests well as they stay with you reduces the chance of negative reviews online – simple. If you’re getting re-occurring reviews about poor food, hard beds, noisy neighbours, and you’re not going to do anything about it – you need to face up to the fact that these reviews won’t disappear on their own.
- There is no point in posting fake reviews to combat bad reviews. Hotels have to get better at focusing on their happy clients and gently encouraging them towards the great things that other people are mentioning about the hotel online. You can’t make people leave good reviews, but you can have questionnaires that point you in the direction of happy clients. Then “lightly” drop into conversation how the hotel appreciates it when happy clients leave their opinions online. (Avoid this tactic for guests with issues).
- PR & Blogging isn’t just for the large hotel chains. The search engines such as Google don’t just like review websites. They like articles, blogs and guides – they also like local and national press. Make friends with your local Tourist Board and papers. Tell them about changes and the variety of people staying at your hotel. Link up with a charity and promote it. Set up your own hotel blog and write articles about the things can do in the local area. “Family Activities in Whitley Bay” could bring you online leads.
It’s so hard for smaller hotels to compete with the competitive rates of the larger hotel chains, and our last comment is to all you avid reviewers out there:
The next time you take offence to a flowery duvet cover or to the over-use of doilies in a hotel lounge – ask yourself was it really worth that two star rating and slating online? Is it not getting dull that all hotels now are aiming for “boutique” status, whilst looking to charge only £35 per night? Sometimes you need to manage your own expectations, rather than bring a small business down online.