How to get more reviews for your bed and breakfastJun 05, 2023
Tripadvisor has recently announced the winners of its Traveller's Choice Award - those hotels and B&Bs that are, according to Tripadvisor, in the top 10% of hotels worldwide.
And it's been lovely seeing lots of notifications popping up on social media from our Yellow Duck Collection B&Bs, proudly announcing that they are winners of the award.
In case you were wondering Yellow Duck Collection bed and breakfasts are B&Bs owned by people who have been through my training.
Of course, if your B&B hasn’t won one of these awards, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t running a successful B&B! It just means that you haven't received the number of positive reviews it takes to qualify.
And there are several reasons why this might be:
- your bed and breakfast is still quite new and you’re still in the process of building up your reviews
- you have a very established business and don’t bother asking for reviews anymore.
- you define the success of your B&B in different ways and it’s not about reviews and awards for you
At my own B&B, I stopped encouraging guests to leave reviews - they were nice when they arrived, but I didn't actively seek them out - and about 70% of my guests were repeat business. And you wouldn’t believe how many of my repeat guests told me they didn’t leave reviews or recommend me because they wanted to keep the B&B all to themselves!
In the mini course - FIRST STEPS TO TO RUNNING A BED AND BREAKFAST - CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE - I walk you through why it’s important to define YOUR definition of success for your B&B.
If you do fall into the last category and are doing quite nicely with your B&B and don’t really want or need any more reviews, then there’s no need to read on! But for everyone else...
Why is it important to have online reviews for your B&B
Whether we like it or not, reviews are important for the majority of businesses these days.
And research by Google/Oxera shows that over 70% of people surveyed feel more comfortable using a business that has positive reviews.
Reviews play an important role in your potential guests’ decision making when they are deciding if your B&B is the right one for them.
- They give your future guests an insight into the type of experience your previous guests have enjoyed and may persuade them to stay with you rather than a similar B&B in the area.
- Potential guests are more likely to stay at B&Bs with a higher number of positive reviews.
- Reviews also enhance your online reputation and improve your chances of getting booking sites and on Google searches.
What about negative reviews?
And let’s not forget negative reviews. Whilst none of us like receiving them, I always think of a negative review as a marketing opportunity.
They are a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate to potential guests how you handle something that has gone wrong and what type of customer service you offer.
Whilst some people excel at the Basil Fawlty type response to negative reviews and claim it attracts guest to stay - and if that’s the type of impression you want to give to your future guests, then go for it - I personally found it better to write a professional response, that reflected my personality ( well the bits of it that I showed to guests anyway!)
TIP - How to establish the right tone when you're writing a review response
If you have trouble getting the tone right when you're writing a response to a negative review. Take out a piece of paper or your favourite digital note taking app and describe how you would want guests to describe you, as their B&B host, to a friend after their stay.
Think of the type of words they might use - funny, warm, caring, professional, relaxed, no nonsense, calm.
Then try to write your response as that person would write it.
You can find my top tips on responding to a negative review here >> How to respond to a negative review about your bed and breakfast
So if you’ve decided you need more reviews, how do you go about getting them?
Decide where you want guests to post their reviews
There are lots of places online that guests can leave reviews these days, and it’s unlikely that someone will want to leave multiple reviews on every site for you.
So your first task is to decide where you would most like guests to leave reviews.
Some examples might be:
- Your own B&B booking engine such as Freetobook
- Online booking engine such as bookingdotcom
- Your guest book
You could give guests a choice of all the options or try to focus them on a particular site.
It's probably better to point them in the direction of on one site in the first instance, as it’s probably better to have a greater number of reviews on one site than having them thinly spread across several sites.
For example, if most of your bookings come from people finding you on a Google search, you may want to prioritise them leaving reviews on Google.
How to get guests to leave reviews
I’m not a great fan of asking guests for a review in person as they're checking out, because I think it puts pressure on them and I don’t like it when I’ve been asked in the past.
Your interactions with them whilst they’re staying should be all about giving them the best possible experience whilst they’re with you, not focussing on getting more guests through the door once they've left
Ask how their stay went
What I do think is important is asking guests how their stay was. This gives them the opportunity to raise any concerns, which could potentially prevent them leaving a negative review.
People often just want to be heard, have their complaint listened to and see that you’ve understood their issue and will be doing something about it.
TIP - How to respond when a guest is giving you constructive feedback / complaining
- Ask how their stay was
- Listen to their response - try and ignore your chimp mind which is busy coming up with excuses or arguments
- Ask them for clarification on any points
- Thank them for their feedback
- If it's something that can be sorted easily, then tell them what you'll do
- If you can't think of a response on the fly, have a stock phrase that you use such as "I'm sorry that this was your experience, I'll need to look into it and get back to you, would you prefer me to email or to call you?"
- Consider whether compensation is appropriate.
About compensation - Yes it may cost you a bit of money, but this needs to be balanced by how much time, money, effort and potential loss of business a damaging review costs you.
One of my favourite stories on this subject was told to me by a couple of course participants attending my classroom course.
They were staying at one of the local hotels I recommended and when they came to have a shower in the morning the water was cold. They were keen Tripadvisor users and were already planning their review.
At breakfast they were asked how their stay had been and they complained about the water.
They received an immediate apology and on checking out were offered a big discount on their meal for the previous evening.
They went onto write a glowing 5 star review with no mention of the lack of hot water!
How to ask for reviews
So if you're not asking your guests in person, how do you ask for reviews? Here are a few ideas:
- You can put a paragraph in your guest information folder explaining how reviews help you and telling guests where they can leave them
- You could send them an email after they’ve left asking them for a review
- Give them a postcard as they’re leaving, or leave one in their room asking for a review.
TIP - What to put in the email and / or postcard
I included the following on the postcard and in the email follow up:
- thank them for choosing your B&B and ask how their stay was, giving them the opportunity to air any complaints
- give them something like a return guest discount code or send a link to the recipes on your blog *
- offer them a chance to sign up for my email newsletter explaining the benefits of doing so
- ask them to leave a review
* I think it’s nice to give guests a little something after they’ve left, so maybe a discount off their next stay or a link to your recipes or similar, but be careful that it’s clear you’re not incentivising people to leave a review ( see below!)
Make it easy for your guests to leave reviews
To increase your chances of getting reviews, you need to make it as easy as possible for your guests to leave them.
Just telling them to go to Tripadvisor probably won't be enough.
- Create a QR code direct to your review site and include that on any printed material
- If you’re emailing or putting something on your website, then include a link directly to the page where they can leave a review about your business
Incentivising people to leave a review
The laws around incentivising people to leave reviews are a bit vague, so it can be a bit risky.
What is a bit dodgy, and companies have been prosecuted for, is offering an incentive for positive reviews only.
I hope you find this blog post useful!
For many more hints and tips on creating and running a bed and breakfast that your guests will love and leave fabulous reviews for, check out my Bed and Breakfast Course
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