How to respond to negative TripAdvisor reviews in a professional manner

TripAdvisor is the number one review portal in the world. Its start was both a blessing and a curse for many restaurants and hotels that see TripAdvisor as a new way to start (or sink) their business.

By now it has become a habit to go browse TripAdvisor reviews to verify the quality of a venue or choose the location of a future vacation, while before it was “chance” that let us choose restaurants or pizza places.

The traffic generated is significant (390 million visits a month), and like in real life, it is fundamental to carry out a certain degree of control, to avoid the risk of defamation or fake reviews.

Let’s admit it: none of us stops to think about positive reviews, but we do dwell on the negative ones. It is exactly those that influence our choices, keeping us from going to that “pretty bar on the beach” because the “waitress did not greet us”.

Small details become gigantic failures and it is not important who wrote the review, and there is no trying to put a context to the situation. And by putting context to the situation I mean, when the criticizing is excessive, we forget that behind every business, in contact with the public are real people and, sometimes, due to work stress, oversights are always possible. In the end, however, everyone has their personal taste and values that will never be the same as another person’s.

For those who do our work, or those monitor social channels and review portals who have to deal with the opinions of people, at times we watch arguments between the two parties, client and manager , a behavior that certainly does not help brand reputation.

How does TripAdvisor work?

It might be worth taking a step back and putting the concepts in order, making a list of what makes TripAdvisor unique:

TripAdvisor is:

  • Personal, what I liked may not be liked by someone else, and vice versa.
  • A channel to help businesses make money, not entertain people.

TripAdvisor is not:

  • a group discussion of culinary, literary, or marketing experts (at least most of the time!).
  • a TV show, or a sit-com, the words shared on there are not part of a scrip and they can hurt or create negative, direct feelings.

How to manage a TripAdivsor page

Unfortunately TripAdvisor does not allow you to delete negative comments without just cause, and not even delete the restaurant profile unless the business closes. (Click here to find out what TripAdvisor considers just cause).

Monitor TripAdvisor reviews and reply quickly to negative reviews; it is an obligation to keep the page “alive”. Of course, the reply must be thought out and useful, to avoid losing not only the customer that left the review, but also the potential clients that read the reply of the restaurant (replying harshly will cause a negative impression also to any other potential customers).

Examples of negative customer reviews and incorrect replies from the restaurant

“Not Fast Food” on TripAdvisor

For example, let’s take a Fast Food restaurant review. If a client decides to visit this type of restaurant, we imagine they are looking for:

  • low costs,
  • fast service,
  • good flavor and quality of food.

Let’s look at an example where the client was not happy and left a very low TripAdvisor review (1 star). The restaurant decided to reply like this:

recensione tripadvisor fast food
A real example of a negative review on TripAdvisor.

What does the client say?
The tone used by the client is neutral and non-aggressive, does not attack the restaurant in any way and underlines that it is a personal opinion (“a matter of taste”). It underlines that:

  • the presentation of the food was not the best,
  • despite the fact there were few people in the restaurant, they had to wait a long time,
  • the quality of the food was low (the fries were not enjoyed and the meat in the patty was cold).

How should the restaurant reply?
The review is about the service, not the person. This must be kept in mind all the time in order to be professional. A response based on anger or frustration must be avoided. TripAdvisor awards diplomacy.

It is highly suggested to avoid sending the client to a competitor or hoping the client will never return.  A client is always a client and must be considered a precious resource for the restaurant’s success (even through word of mouth).

Keep in mind the client acquires a service. We cannot expect that it cares about any setbacks in the kitchen or the personal sacrifices that the restaurant owner has put into starting his business.

The restaurant owner, furthermore, when writing an answer to TripAdvisor reviews must put aside any bad mood or dislike, and adopt a neutral and understanding language, almost immune to any negative comments.

In this case for a proper response:

  1. thank them for the time spent writing the review,
  2. say sorry for long wait times, due to busy hours
  3. invite the client to try a dish on the house.

Gustibus… When a client’s taste does not correspond to the service given

Another type of common review and that with a small effort can convince the client to have faith again is this:

recensioni tripadvisor ristorante mojito
Real review on TripAdvisor: client unhappy with the quality of the mojito

Here we find a negative review of the location’s mojito, and the cynical response of the restaurant owner.
Each client has his/her own taste preferences and unfortunately we have no control over this. Something that we can control, instead, is the tone with which we decide to reply.
Listing the peculiarities and the care with which the restaurant makes this type of cocktail communicates to the client the attention and professionalism that is put into the work and the quality of the final result.

How to write a successful reply to a negative comment

For a correct response that could transform an unhappy customer into a potential returning customer the following must be done:

  1. say sorry for what could have been a human error, that, although it may seem improbable, is not to be excluded,
  2. list the used ingredients (for example, “we have used only the best ingredients, such as white rum from Cuba”, etc. Of course, the description has to be true!);
  3. explain that the cost of the cocktail is due to a certain standard that the location wants to respect,
  4. invite the client to return to enjoy a cocktail that the owner will offer free of charge.

Managing the TripAdvisor reviews for hotels

For the hotel reviews the same management technique for negative reviews must be applied. Those who should be the emblem of hospitality and friendliness, the managers, cannot falter here.

Appealing to the public of TripAdvisor looking for support from other reviewers and denigrate the authoritativeness of the author of the review is synonym of fear and poor professionalism.

Recensioni TripAdvisor - Critica per la qualità dell'Hotel, risposta sbagliata del proprietario
The justifications of the owner to the TripAdvisor review make the situation worse

In this answer we can find several critical issues, summarized in two main aspects:

  • despite the “cordial” opening and closing, the rest of the review is written in an accusatory tone. This should be avoided in favor of a calm tone as a sign of professionalism.
  • the customer’s criticism is correct, and could be used to improve the structural aspects of the hotel, benefiting the business.

Here our advice is to respond by thanking and taking advantage of the criticism, showing openness, professionalism, and respect for their customers.

When can the TripAdvisor reviews be deleted?

When does TripAdvisor allow removing negative reviews? When people write reviews about services they have not used, to penalize restaurant or hotel managers based on weak or made up reasons.

In all the following cases, the authors themselves admit they have never been to the restaurant they are reviewing.

These are the cases in which it is possible to request the intervention of TripAdvisor to remove the negative comments.

recensioni tripadvisor hotel
If the author of the review has not stayed in the hotel, the review can be removed
Recensioni TripAdvisor negativa per divieto accesso cani
Example of unfavorable negative review
recensioni tripadvisor ristorante chiusura
If the author has not set foot in the restaurant, his review may to be removed

How to survive TripAdvisor

The world of TripAdvisor reviews is full of pitfalls, which is why more and more restaurant owners and hoteliers rely on communication agency specialists in the field of Reputation Management for the task of responding to reviews.

Netrising also offers this service to its customers, which consists of monitoring customer reviews and writing professional and personalized replies.

Depending on the size of the restaurant and the amount of reviews, monitoring can be occasional or daily. Regardless, the relationship of trust between the agency and the restaurant owner is fundamental. Together, it is possible to manage moments of crisis and turn them into success.

Contact us now to know more about our TripAdvisor review management service 
Fill out the form or call the number 0544 976631