Guest Reviews: How to Ask & How to Respond

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June 23, 2022

6 min read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Everything About Guest Reviews for Tour Operators

Word-of-mouth marketing has always been an effective tactic for businesses, and the digital era has made it a lot more powerful. Online guest reviews are now the modern-day word-of-mouth, and they have extensive reach.

Travellers anywhere in the world looking for things to do online can read the reviews posted by your guests. Knowing the opinion of those who have already visited the destination or experienced the tour will influence a traveller’s buying decisions. That’s why tour and activity operators should be aware of the best practices when it comes to guest reviews.

Why Do You Need Guest Reviews?

Reviews left by previous customers reflect honest opinions about your tours and activities. Guest reviews answer many more questions for your potential customers than your website. Is the tour really fun? Is it worth spending their money? Is it safe? Are the guides nice? Were there great Instagram-worthy moments? Simply put, when prospective customers see positive reviews, you’ll get more customers while negative reviews may just turn them away.

Reviews also offer tour, activity, and experience operators an excellent opportunity to engage with their guests. Responding to reviews and thanking them for their time can nurture customer relationships and build brand credibility. When a customer sees a company being active on review sites, they know that the business genuinely cares about not just its reputation, but the customer’s experience.

A customer looking at review form of a tour operator sent via online booking system

Customer testimonials are also a great tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Adding the latest reviews helps to keep your website active. Google favours active websites which avoid duplicate content, so you will have a greater chance of ranking higher on Google Search results when new and unique reviews are published regularly.

Google also considers review count and review score when they rank local businesses. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking. It means that a well-managed review section can help your tour company do better in local search ranking when an in-destination traveller searches for things to do in the area. This is becoming increasingly important as Google Things to do becomes more and more significant for tour and activity operators.

How to Ask Guests to Leave a Tour Review?

It is not always easy to collect reviews from your guests. Asking them in person at the end of the tour or activity is usually the first opportunity, but customers may not be quick to pull out their phones and post a review immediately. So, consider having your TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, Yelp, or any other review profiles prominently posted in an area after the tour. Some businesses even post scannable QR on posters or handouts after the tour to encourage the early post-tour review.

While some leave a review immediately, most forget about it and move on with their busy lives. So, giving them a little prompt after the tour will be nice. Here are some useful and practical ways to get feedback from your customers.

Use Emails

Asking for reviews through emails is the most effective way for any tour and activity operator. Send them an email requesting a review within one or two days after the trip, when they are still in awe of your tour. 

Online booking systems, like the Zaui reservation system, are capable of automating these review request emails by pulling out data from the booking details. Remember to personalize them (in the Zaui system, you can use smart tags to do that) instead of sending a generic email.

You can link the TripAdvisor page or Google Business on the email, making it easy for guests to share their feedback. Or prompt them to rate your company on Facebook or any other of the many review pages available. Just remember to focus on where your customers are searching for you and it may not just be one review site.

💡 When you send the review request, you can add photos of their adventures to remind them of the good times. Zaui’s integration with Fotaflo, a photo marketing platform, enables tour and transport operators to include a downloadable link to the pictures of the tour group.

If you don’t have an online booking system or if you are interested in knowing more about it, our ebook about Choosing a Booking Management System can help you. Get your free copy here.

Incentivize Them

Sometimes guests need a little nudge. You can offer them an additional promo code for their next trip or guarantee a discount for the next booking. It can be extended to their friends and families too. 

Let them know about the offer as soon as they finish the tour. You can remind them of the offers on the review request emails too.

Bring Back Guest Books

Yes, it’s an old-school thought! But, it’s still effective. Your guests will be all excited immediately after a great tour experience. You can capture the excitement right then and there, asking them to note down a few words. You can later move these reviews to websites.

The notes on the guest book may not have a detailed description most of the time. But, even short and sweet comments such as “incredible experience” or “best trip ever” can be good content for your social media. Take a snap of a positive guest book comment, and make it into an engaging social media post. It may not be boosting your star ratings on review sites. But, this will be another social proof of your tours and activities!

Make Use of Marketing Tools

Several marketing platforms can automate tasks of collecting and tracking reviews. Your online booking system will have integrations with many of these marketing platforms. Talk to your customer success team about available integrations for your system. For example, the Zaui reservation system has partnered with sales, marketing, and survey platforms like Yonder and Tomis Tech, which specialize in the tourism industry.

Yonder and Tomis Tech can boost your customer care and sales with powerful automation. These platforms can send simple surveys that make it quick and convenient for customers to share their feedback. Best of all, it prompts those who rate you five stars to post the review on their preferred online review sites by providing a copy button. 

Marketing platforms like this can retrieve booking details from the Zaui booking system to automate customer review requests, and the staff can identify customers who have responded to the feedback request. It helps you efficiently manage reviews by pooling all your customer feedback data in a central place, saving you from browsing various channels to collect online reviews. By installing these plug-ins with an automated feed of your latest 5-star reviews from multiple sources, you can update your website with the latest reviews. 

Do Tour Operators Need to Respond to Reviews Always?

Businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses that don’t. If you cannot catch up with reviews, then ensure that the reviews that appear on the first pages always have responses. 

Responding to reviews shows that you care about customers’ views. It establishes and strengthens trust between you and the customer. 

Key things to keep in mind when you reply to a customer’s feedback:

✅Keep it short, simple, and professional.

✅Be gracious and courteous (even if it’s a negative review; we will talk about it in a bit).

✅Always be appreciative of the feedback.

✅Do not be salesy.

✅Never talk down to the reviewer.

Here are some sample responses to positive reviews:

📝Thanks for the kind words! Glad to hear you enjoyed your time with us!

📝Thank you for the positive feedback. We hope to see you again soon.

📝Thank you! Can’t wait to have you back!

📝We’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed your experience.

📝Thank you for taking the time to send your feedback. We really appreciate it!

📝We are so glad to hear that you enjoyed the tour with us! Can’t wait to have you back.

It looks easy to manage positive feedback. Just be careful to not copy and paste the same response to every positive review. Try to make your responses personal. So, what happens when you get a not-so-pleasant review?

How to Respond to Bad Reviews?

Bad reviews happen sometimes. But, remember that a bad review is not the worst thing; it can help you get better and learn valuable areas of your business worth addressing. However, a bad review can easily become a bigger problem if not handled well.

Negative reviews allow you to let your audience know that you care about the customer, and you do your best to ensure a similar problem won’t happen to the next customer. 

Avoid cookie-cutter responses. Use negative reviews as a chance to make them feel you are genuine and authentic. These are the golden rules of responding to negative reviews: 

Do not ignore the review. Respond to it promptly.

✅Be careful to not respond too quickly though. Your business can be very personal so be sure to avoid emotional responses. Sometimes it helps to type out what you want to say, delete it, and go back with a far better response worthy of your customers.

Always remember to stay professional. 

Do not take the review personally.

Before responding, talk to your team to understand what may have gone wrong. 

Thank customers for their feedback, which shows that you value their genuine feedback. 

Acknowledge the guests’ experience. Be honest if there was a mistake on your side.

Communicate any changes or improvements you have made as a result of their feedback.

If you feel something more needs to be done, take the conversation offline. Provide your contact details to discuss the problem in person.

Final Word

Guest reviews are immensely valuable to any tour or activity business. If managed well, guest reviews can be one of your most valuable customer acquisition strategies. Do not run away from them, fearing bad reviews. Even bad reviews can give you insights into things that could be improved. 

Reviews are stories about customers’ experiences, and these stories will influence other travellers looking to recreate such memorable moments for themselves. Try to collect as many reviews as possible from your happy customers. Display them on your website and on social. Use platforms such as Bazaarvoice to collect reviews and ratings from all sources and display them on your website.

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