He urged pub operators to take notice of rankings and reviews on the site and prompted the need to be active in order to come out on top.
“Encourage customers to leave a response, you will find that the majority are positive. A good response to negative feedback can generate even more loyalty,” said Stevens.
Stevens said that operators should not be afraid to ask customers directly to leave a review and this can be further prompted by capturing customers’ email addresses inviting them to send feedback.
Including a link to TripAdvisor on the mailing list and newsletter is also beneficial as is downloading the TripAdvisor widget to your website.
Dealing with negative feedback
Stevens warned that negative feedback is bound to happen at some point, but operators can reduce this risk by offering an experience that matches customer expectations.
“If their experience differs from their expectation they are likely to write a review and it will probably be a bad one. There is no product or service to overcome a bad experience,” said Stevens.
Stevens said that operators should not act on knee jerk reactions and stay calm when resolving any issues.
“Unresolved issues will result in bad reviews. Operators should concentrate on fixing problems there and then without getting to the review stage.”
And if you do respond to negative feedback via TripAdvisor, Stevens stressed the importance of keeping replies diplomatic and not personal.
“You need to respond within 12 to 24 hours, not five minutes. Businesses that respond appropriately to negative feedback get a much higher rating on TripAdvisor. If a complaint is serious the response should come from a manager,” Stevens said.
Stevens highlighted that a negative review doesn’t necessarily mean a crisis unless it’s posted by a celebrity, suggest some kind of danger or hygiene risk or was one of several negative reviews posted in a short space of time.
If any of these scenarios occur, Stevens suggests apologising to the customer or customers concerned, moving the conversation away from TripAdvisor and over to private email or telephone, doing something nice for the customer and then declaring publically that the issue has been resolved.
If it is believed that a negative review is unfair or unwarranted, or has even been posted by a rival business, Stevens ensured that TripAdvisor will deal with the situation effectively.
“TripAdvisor are very good at removing false or malicious reviews, as long as the operator can provide evidence to back up their claims.”