[00:00:00] Hi, it's Karen here, and Saffi the dog, who, whenever she sees me take my podcast microphone out, joins me under the desk and starts on her blankie. I'm the founder and owner of Bed and Breakfast Academy, helping aspiring and existing B& B owners to create a B& B lifestyle you'll love living, and to attract guests who become loyal and repeat customers.
If you're new to this podcast, hello. I've been running B& B Academy since 2006. And I also ran my own B& B Hopton House here in Shropshire for 17 years. I have trained many hundreds of B& B owners over the years. Pre COVID, I ran classroom training courses, but now I deliver all of my training online, apart from the occasional tourism marketing course, which I run locally.
The great advantage of training online is that you can do the training at your own pace and I'm able to deliver much more consistent content. So welcome back [00:01:00] to this 52 weeks of taking control of your BNB marketing series. Today in tip number five, I'm going to talk to you about how you can use a negative review about your BNB to market your business.
I'm aiming to deliver 52 ideas for you on how to market your bed and breakfast in just a short time each week. Just taking those tiny steps to take more control of your own marketing and hopefully generate some more direct income. In the last tip. Which was number four. I talked about how to use your website effectively to market your bed and breakfast.
You can find that over on my blog or if you prefer to listen to the podcast, you can find it also on my website or just search for Bed and Breakfast Academy on Apple or Spotify podcasts before I go on the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that you didn't hear from me last week as predicted at the beginning of the year life got in the way big [00:02:00] time and I ran out of both time and motivation.
I had virtually written the blog when life interrupted, I returned to finish it on Friday and realized I'd failed to save it. So that was a day's worth of writing disappeared. At that point I ran out of motivation, turned off the laptop and headed for a Kindle, but I'm back now.
I've had some nice comments over the weekend, which have cheered me up after last week's issues. So, um, nice comments about the online course. One said love your course, by the way. Thanks for all of the great knowledge. And so when I said, I have enrolled on your online course, it's brilliant. Just so appreciate your seminars.
They are getting more, me more inspired by the minute. Well, thank you very much for those comments. I do appreciate all the feedback. Personally, I love the online course because unlike the classroom course, you can dive into it at any time that suits you. There's no waiting [00:03:00] for availability on a date that.
suits you, no having the time and expense of traveling to Shropshire or worrying because you have to cancel because life gets in the way. You can find out more about the online course at bnbacademy. co. uk. Now, back to this week's marketing tip. Which is how to use a negative review about your BNB to promote your business.
I appreciate that suggesting you might see a negative review as a good marketing opportunity may be a bit of a stretch for some of you to consider, but please do bear with me. I have written about how to respond to a review before now. So if you want to have a look at the step by step details of that, do head back to the podcast.
I've got a podcast about it and also a blog post on my website. So let's start with talking about types of review. And there are different types of review there. If you've been in the business for a while you know [00:04:00] there are different types of review and not all of them feel fair or in fact are fair.
I once received a two out of five review from a guest because he'd needed to be in Shrewsbury, which was 26 miles away, rather than South Shropshire, and he just hadn't researched the location of my B& B carefully enough. It was all there on my website, postcode, a Google map. And I got a three out of five review from guests who, on leaving the B& B, had said they'd love their stay, but went on to leave a review saying they hadn't liked the rubber duck in the bathroom.
Then there are those that are just offering feedback about how the B& B could be improved apart from sticking the rubber duck in a drawer. Uh, such as this one I received saying there weren't enough pegs in the room to hang coats on. Or there are those reviews which are about when something has actually gone wrong.
So a local pub with rooms having no hot water in the morning for guests to take a shower is one of the reviews they got. [00:05:00] I've had it happen here at my own B& B but luckily no one reviewed me about it because I took proactive action as they were leaving.
It's natural to feel defensive, angry or frustrating when you get a review particularly when you don't feel it's fair but it's really important you don't respond from this. place of defensive anger or frustration, and I talk much more about that in the other blog. Now I've, in the blog post that accompanies this, I've written this down in capitals, so I apologize to get shouty, but remember, every response to a review is a marketing opportunity and you aren't really responding to the guest who's left the review, but you are responding to the hundreds of potential guests, hundreds if not thousands of potential guests who are going to read your response.
When a potential guest researches your business on a review site [00:06:00] such as TripAdvisor, or they may look at your reviews on an online travel agency like Booking. com, they will probably look at a few of your glowing reviews, but more than likely they will then click to that one star filter button or two stars through to any negative reviews you've received.
And believe me, I've spoken to many people over the years who say this is exactly what they do when looking for a B& B. Believe it or not. really that interested in all the positives. They can see the number of positives, but they want to get into the detail of negative reviews. They are looking to read what the reviewer has said about your business to see if it's something that will potentially put them off staying.
But they are also looking to see how you as a business owner has responded. And actually, if the potential guest is put off staying because it's something that you can do nothing about, then the reviewer has just done you a favour. For example, um, [00:07:00] one review might say, we didn't like the fact that the B& B was dog friendly and that dogs were allowed in the dining room.
Now this is probably going to put off all those people who don't want to stay at a dog friendly B& B and don't like dogs in the dining room. But fear not, because there are more than enough potential guests who want to come away with their dog and for he, she, them, if you take multiple dogs, be allowed in to breakfast with them.
. You can't create a bed and breakfast that appeals to everyone. And if a review puts off someone who is not going to enjoy staying with you, then I would call that a result. The reviewer has just done a bit of marketing for you.
If you do get upset and take it personally when you receive a negative review, maybe have a look at it and say, well, what sort of guess is this going to put off? This could be a positive. So what does your response say about your business? The way you respond to a negative review can significantly influence potential B& B guests in several ways.[00:08:00]
Potential guests will get a feel for the level of customer service based on how you address negative feedback. Being prompt, polite, and understanding will reflect. Positively on your business, showing you value, guests satisfaction and want to resolve issues. They know that when they stay with you and there is a problem or an issue, you're going to respond to it in a polite, professional manner.
Your reply shows your ability to handle any problems effectively. As I said, guests want to know that if they experience any problems or issues when they're staying with you, that these are going to be addressed promptly and professionally and that you're not going to get upset. A constructive response that offers solutions or clarifications about your business shows that you have good problem solving skills.
And a bit of a tip here, this is something that I recommend doing as the guest leaves. to actually make sure you're not getting that negative review come through in the [00:09:00] first place is as guests leave, do ask them how their stay has been. This will quite often people give people the opportunity to give you feedback, give you the opportunity to do something about it if it's something that needs doing and may stave off a negative review.
So the issue I had with the guests not having hot water was, um, what had actually happened was the, we'd had a, a lightning strike quite close by and what we hadn't realised that there'd been some surge in the electricity and it had caused the thermostat, uh, for the hot water to actually fuse, so we, the thermostat was broken so there was no hot water.
And the guests had told me there was no hot water. I was Very apologetic because it was really important to me we have We had big powerful showers and huge double ended baths. So the whole, the whole bathing experience is something that's quite important to me when I go away. So it's important that my guests get to enjoy that as well. So it was [00:10:00] a big part of, of the stay as far as I was concerned. So I gave them a discount. And in fact, the, the pub that I was talking about locally that has issues with the hot water sometimes, so we had some people who were taking the course and they were staying at the pub and they'd had no hot water in the morning. And they'd mentioned it to the owners who promptly gave them, they'd eaten there the night before, promptly gave them all the food and drinks free.
And instead of going away and writing a negative review about the place, they went and gave a glowing review on TripAdvisor. So yes, it costs the pub money, but At the same time, how much money is a negative review saying there's never any hot water going to cost them? So it's worth thinking about what you're going to do in advance of a review if something does go wrong at the B& B.
It's important to be open and honest and authentic when you're replying to a review. An open and honest response will go down with [00:11:00] potential guests. We all make mistakes. They'll appreciate that you take ownership of mistakes and that you're looking for improvement. Being authentic can really help to build trust right from the start in a world of Spams scams and phishing where building trust with a potential customer is, I believe vital.
In this day and age, the tone and language you use can show your professionalism and your personality. A respectful and courteous tone and clear communication will show you in a good light if your B B's more casual and you are more casual. sort of person with a sense of humor, you could adapt your tone appropriately.
Just be very careful to never make fun of previous guests or their reviews. Unless you really are going for the whole Basil Fawlty approach to customer service,
then good luck to you. But what I recommend you do is really think about how you, as a B& B owner, [00:12:00] want to, I want your guests to perceive you.
Potential guests are going to look for signs that you're listening to feedback and that you're looking to improve the business and that you have a dedication to enhancing that guest experience. So guests are going to appreciate that you ask for and act on feedback. You know, it shows a commitment to your business. So that was just a bit of a summary of what guests are looking for in a review. And now we'll move on to how to structure your reply. I've used an example throughout this of a guest who leaves a review complaining because there were no pubs in walking distance. I know this is a frustrating one for many B& B owners, myself included.
The guests would wax lyrical about what a beautiful, perfect location we had, the glorious views over breakfast, the best view you could possibly want, uh, when you're eating your breakfast.
And then they would give [00:13:00] us a low score for location, because there were no pubs within walking distance. I even had a repeat guest who had stayed with us every year for ten years do exactly that.
But, at the same time, they are doing you a favour by putting off guests for whom a pub to walk to is really important. You don't want that person staying at your B& B and giving you another negative review.
So step one is to acknowledge and apologize. Start by acknowledging the guest's experience and express genuine apologies for any inconvenience caused. This shows empathy and a commitment to resolving issues.
In the case where you feel the feedback is unfair and you disagree with the review, it's still important to acknowledge their feedback. Showing guest's satisfaction. You know, for some reason, whatever it may be, the guest's expectation of their stay [00:14:00] has not been met. Even if it's out of your control, cue the guest who didn't like the fact we were 26 miles from Shrewsbury, you're acknowledging their expectation has not been met.
So in the example, thank you for taking the time to leave a review for Optin House B& B, and we're glad that overall you enjoyed your stay. We're sorry that you were disappointed that we have no pubs within walking distance.
What you're doing there is actually you're not saying sorry that we have no pubs within walking distance where you're saying that you're acknowledging their feelings. We're sorry that you were disappointed. The next step, step two, is to highlight your positive attributes. After addressing the specific concern, highlight the positive aspects of your bed and breakfast.
You do want to keep your response as concise as possible. One of the biggest mistakes I see B& B owners do in responding to reviews is to write pages and pages of response. If they mention some positives [00:15:00] in their review, maybe pick one or two of these to highlight, but keep it short.
Or, if it's possible, mention an upside to whatever it is they're complaining about. So in the example, our B& B is in a beautiful rural location with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, walks from the house and is very peaceful with no busy roads. Step three is to educate and clarify. If the issue arose due to a policy you have or something that's just out of your control, take the opportunity to tell your future guests about the rationale behind it.
Explain the reasoning in a friendly and informative manner, showing understanding and being open and honest with them.
In our example, so do you remember just before we said, Our B& B is in a beautiful rural location with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, walks from the house and is very peaceful with no busy roads. And then I go on [00:16:00] to say, Unfortunately, this also means we have no pubs that you can walk to.
We do have a section on our website detailing the postcode, phone number and distance to our nearest favourite pubs. And this information is also included in the welcome email you receive before arrival. So this is pointing those potential guests at your website to know all the information they need is there.
The next step is to offer solutions or alternatives. Now, where possible, offer these solutions or alternatives that could mitigate similar issues in the future. And this demonstrates your proactive approach to customer satisfaction. and reinforces that commitment to providing a great experience. So in the example we do offer a variety of supper platters that are very popular with our guests who don't want to travel out in the evening.
You can pre order these and it will be waiting for you [00:17:00] in your room fridge. Whilst we're not licensed, we do supply wine and beer glasses and a corkscrew and you're welcome to bring your own wine or beer to enjoy, either with a platter or after your return from eating at the pub. On our FAQs page, you'll also find numbers for local taxi companies.
Please note you'll need to book these in advance of your stay.
So step five is to encourage further discussion. So you can invite the guests to get in touch to discuss their concerns further. That personal touch can create a real sense of connection and may lead them to change or remove their review. I don't suggest openly offering refunds or discounts in a public response as this may encourage other people to complain or leave a bad review just so they can get money off.
If the guest does get in touch directly after they see your response, if you feel it's appropriate, like [00:18:00] when the guest didn't have any hot water when they were staying with us, you could offer a refund or a discount. But that should never be conditional on them removing or changing their review. If they do, then that's great, but don't ask.
In some countries, there are ethical and potentially legal implications for incentivizing guests to leave a positive review only. So I personally wouldn't do this.
So in the example, if you feel there is more we could have done to communicate the lack of pubs within walking distance, or to make your stay more enjoyable, please do get in touch. Remember, maintaining a positive and constructive tone throughout your response is key to turning a negative situation into a positive one.
Keep your message clear, concise and courteous, and make sure it reflects the professionalism and warmth of you as an owner and of your bed and breakfast. So I hope I've convinced you that a negative review isn't [00:19:00] necessarily a bad thing and that it could actually be a positive thing for your BNB and to market your BNB effectively.
Thank you for listening. to me today and I look forward to speaking with you in the next podcast. Do head over to my website bnbacademy. co. uk for many more blogs and also a growing library of podcast episodes and as I said you can find my main online BNB course there, how to set up, run and market a BNB and also a mini workshop which is the first steps of running a bed and breakfast which is for those of you who aren't sure whether running a B& B is for you yet or not or just want to know what the first steps are.
If you are listening to my podcast on Spotify or Apple, please do go ahead and hit the subscribe button. The more people that subscribe, the more people get to hear my podcast. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest [00:20:00] of your week or weekend whenever you are listening
bye for now.