Part Six: Why Positive Reviews Are Essential for Getting Ahead of Your Competition and Showing up Online Locally

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes | 1374 words

This article part SIX of an 8-part course titled “How to get your hospitality business found locally online”

Business owners are increasingly understanding the importance of optimising their Google My Business listings and the role this plays on whether or not their business gets found online. Because of this, we are increasingly having to look for new ways to stand out amongst our competition.

We already know that optimising our business listing is good practice, so if your competitors also have their NAP content (business Name, Address and Phone number), questions and answers filled out, website link, compelling images, etc. on their listing, how else can we stand out?

Consumers increasingly trust online reviews as though they have received a personal recommendation themselves

The deciding factor that will push people to choose you over your competitors will be your reviews and your location in relation to the user. As there is not much that we can do about your business’ physical location in relation to the user, let’s instead learn some more about how we can optimise our reviews to make the best of our business listing.

Optimising your review responses

There are two reasons why people leave reviews, it’s either because they want to support and promote a business or to warn other people away from doing business with a particular brand. So, it’s really important that we know how to respond to both positive and negative reviews to make the best out of each show of support or demonstration of disappointment.

As we can see in the graphic above, it is essential that we respond to all reviews, many brands only respond to negative reviews which is bad practice. Show your audience that you care about their opinion whether they left a good review or bad and thank them for taking the time to do so. Don’t post a generic response, instead make an effort to keep responses personal and professional. Potential customers are reading your responses. The worst thing you can do is not respond at all to reviews.

Studies have shown that the more recent a review the more it impacts on a consumer’s decision whether or not to do business with you. Which is why you need to be encouraging your guests to leave reviews frequently and shortly after their stay with you.

Positive Reviews

As we can see in this study by Bright Local, positive reviews have a strong correlation with people visiting the business or the website.

Reviews are also an important ranking factor for the search engines as it’s how they differentiate you from your competitors and decide how to rank you when people search for services like yours online. The two things that lead to a positive review ranking are:

  • Overall number of reviews
  • Number of positive reviews

Hyper-local searches (ie. searches for services within your immediate vicinity) are even more competitive and so reviews are taken as a key ranking factor here. So, crucially, the more positive reviews that your company has, the more likely it will appear at the top of the search results. Because when you and your competitors all have fully optimised business listings, its only the reviews that can get you above.

Now that we understand just how important asking for a review is, let’s take a look at negative reviews and how to respond positively and professionally.

What to do about negative reviews?

57% of the time bad ratings relate to customer service and how the service was delivered, whether that be by an employee or someone else related to the business. It goes without saying that if we receive negative reviews that we need to be adapting our methods accordingly to improve our overall customer experience to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen again.

The best way to respond professionally to a negative review is to:

  • Not take it personally
  • Have empathy for the person leaving the review
  • Be proactive

Here is a breakdown of how to respond to a negative review:

The anatomy of a good response to a negative review
  • If you can, use the reviewer’s name. Take responsibility for your business and say “I am the CEO, I am the business owner and I acknowledge your review”. Let them know that you are a person who can provide an insight into the issues they experienced while dealing with your brand.
  • Show accountability, explain how or why it happened and validate the customer’s experience. It’s not about challenging whether or not this happened. Just assume that whatever lead to the 1 star review is true and provide some context as to how it occurred.
  • Provide a resolution. Show you welcome their engagement and offer some means of atonement. For example, if you come back in we’ll give you a complimentary lunch for two, free massage, discount on a future stay. This is how you show all the other potential readers that you are the kind of brand that is proactive.
  • Sign off by apologising again, express regret, offer to make things right and use your name and title.

Shortened Review URLs

Reviews have the most impact when left on your Google My Business listing. Ideally provide a link on your website or within an email that takes your customers or guests directly to your Google My Business listing review page for them to easily and quickly leave a testimonial.

Here we’ll show you how (using the image below for reference) to find your Google My Business listing’s unique review link to share with your guests and customers.

Step One: Go to the ‘Info’ tab within your GMB dashboard.

Step Two: Click on the pencil button beside the ‘@’ symbol.

Step Three: Here you can change your business profile’s short name to keep it simple and on-brand.

Step Four: Next you will be presented with your unique and shortened profile link.

So your new profile link should look something like this:

You can share this link to enable people to quickly access your Google My Business listing within Google Maps.

Now, let’s get your unique review link using the image below for reference.

Step One: Click on the ‘Home’ tab within your GMB dashboard.

Step Two: Click on the ‘Share review form’ button. 

Step Three: You will then be presented with a unique review URL that you can share which will take people directly to where they can leave a review.

So your new review link should look something like this:

When a guest clicks on your review link it will take them to your Google My Business map listing where they can easily and quickly leave a review (see image below for reference).

The fewer steps a consumer has to take to leave a review the more likely they will write one rather than backing out halfway through simply because the process is too complicated.

Some more data to help guide your review process

This is all the more reason to begin asking for reviews on your Google My Business listing, the more you have that are positive (and with you responding to all reviews, good and bad) the more likely consumers will see you as authentic and will want to do business with you
It's worth learning how consumers are viewing and judging your reviews online to help guide your response

To do list:

  • Check all business listings for reviews and respond to all of them across all channels if possible, especially Google, no matter how old they are, and thank the reviewer for their testimonial. If it is a negative review then follow the instructions above on how best to respond in a positive and professional manner.
  • Create your shortened Google My Business review link and save it somewhere that is easy to access so that you can quickly send it within an email (or better yet, pre-prepare the email) or on social media to a guest that has just checked out of your accommodation or who has enjoyed your services.
  • Include asking for reviews as part of your process when a guest checks out so that all of your team are aware of the importance of gathering reviews for your business showing up locally online and earning the trust of future guests.
  • Actively encourage guests to leave reviews and make sure your team are briefed correctly on how to respond to reviews.
  • If you notice that your hotel isn’t getting many positive reviews, be sure to address the issues that are causing this whether these are related to customer service, false-expectations being set by the hotel or whether they are product related.

Local Consumer Review Survey data sourced from BrightLocal.

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In part seven...

… we will cover how to enable people to book a room at your hotel directly via your Google My Business listing thus increasing your bookings.

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