Everyone gets a bad review now and then. Even the most amazing, most perfect guides.
There are the frustrating 3-star reviews;
“The guide was amazing and I loved all the stops BUT, I just wasn’t really interested in the topic…”
The personal slight reviews bad reviews;
“I found the guide boring…”
The nit-picky 4-star reviews;
“We had a great time but the itinerary said 3 cocktails and we received 2 cocktails and 1 wine…”
And the reviews that really have nothing to do with our performance;
“There was a really annoying guest on the tour so it made it hard to enjoy…”
I’m not saying a bad review won’t always hurt, but in this article, I’ll give you some tools to help you analytically look at your bad review (which will at least make it less personal).
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Be proactive with your reviews.
First things, first. Don’t be passive in your reviews.
Make sure you’re doing everything you can to get that 5-star review.
And get ahead of the situation if there are any issues.
For example, one of your vendors is closed and you have to adjust the tour.
- Alert your manager or OTA/Marketplace immediately and let them know; what happened, what you did to remedy it, and how you communicated this to the guests.*
- Save a screenshot of the message that you send so that it’s timestamped in case you need to prove that you were proactive.
For example, some of your guests arrived late, you weren’t feeling well, you could just tell the guests weren’t super into it, etc…
- Make a note of it (again, what happened, how you handled it, etc). This way, if that bad review pops up, it won’t be a total surprise.
*Here’s some extra reading on how to prepare for when things inevitably go wrong.
The five steps to prevent a bad review from being too personal.
1. Did they specifically say they “hated the guide”?
I know it’s hard to separate ourselves from our tours but if you read closely, very often the complaint has nothing to do with you.
It’s very common to find in a bad review; “The guide was great BUT…”
So if you find that sentence, take a deep breath. Know you did a good job, and then continue to Step #2.
If they DO specifically say something negative about the guide.
Take a deep breath, and really think.
Does this surprise you?
Look back at your notes to see if you had any from that tour.
Did you know at the time it was a weird day? Or that the guests weren’t loving it?
If you CAN find a reason, you can feel a bit better because you weren’t totally blindsided by it (realistically speaking).
Now continue to Step #2 to really drill down on why they weren’t happy and what you could do to prevent that from happening in the future.
2. Was it something within your control?
Sometimes, people just didn’t like the tour. And that can have to do with a million things other than you;
- a family member booked a topic they weren’t interested in
- they didn’t read properly & misunderstood what they were signing up for
- they were hungover
- turns out they DON’T like authentic local food
- they were hoping there were more people/fewer people in the group
Other things that are mostly out of your control;
- terrible weather
- a vendor randomly closed down, happens to be the one they were really looking forward to (yes, you can mitigate this as best you can, but if they’re still disappointed, can you really blame them?)
I know our industry is very big on ‘the customer is always right’ but I’ve found often that in cases where the customer is right, you’re also not wrong.
In this case, I like to acknowledge the customer’s complaint and, if the tour was not able to run as advertised, offer the refund (or offer a partial) and rest assured knowing that it was out of your control.
If you feel like you could have/should have done more, proceed to Step #3.
3. Could you have done something differently?
If you’ve moved onto this step, good on you for taking responsibility for the bad review.
Even if it hurts a little bit.
Now let’s look at it practically, without being too hard on yourself.
Could you have done something differently?
Spend a few minutes brainstorming and make a list of any alternative solutions you could have done at the moment.
Try to really think outside the box (even unrealistically, for example, if you had an extra $100, could you have solved the issue somehow).
This exercise is simply to get you thinking.
We’ll never know if these would have actually prevented the bad review, of course, it’s just an exercise to show you that you’re not completely powerless in preventing a bad review.
Now, look at your list.
Why didn’t you use one of these solutions?
Was it simply because you didn’t think of one at the time (good news, now you have the list!)?
Or was it because you didn’t have the resources, time, help, etc to achieve one of the solutions?
Is there something you can change to make that solution possible next time?
Once you’re done thinking, move on to Step #4.
4. What can you change, right now, for all future tours?
Hopefully, there’s one thing on the list you’ve just made that you CAN implement moving forward.
Maybe it’s as simple as having a back-up stop for each vendor.
Or committing to checking the news each morning before your tour just in case there’s an unexpected parade or protest.
This gives you back control.
You have the power to make that change and hopefully avoid that exact same bad review in the future.
Now, let it go.
Just let that bad review go and move on to the final (and most important) step.
5. Read your good reviews.
It’s ok to mess up.
It’s also ok that one person or group doesn’t realize how amazing you are.
One thing that eases the sting, is to go back to your good reviews.
I know some guides who save their favorite reviews (the heart-filled emails, the novel-length 5-star reviews) and I think it’s an amazing habit.
You can keep them saved in a folder in your email or save screenshots on your phone for moments just like this.
Remember how many people thought you were amazing; how many lives you’ve touched through your work.
You’re a great guide, and a bad review will never change that.