There's no getting around it: Positive online reviews are one of the strongest forces attracting more customers. In a survey conducted by The Statistics Portal, 86 percent of respondents admitted they almost always read online travel reviews before making travel plans. In addition, 88 percent read reviews to detriment the quality of a local business, according to a BrightLocal survey.
As a tour and activity operator, how do you ensure that happy customers actually take the step to post a review or give your business high ratings? Ultimately, it comes down to customer service and the ability to make the review process as easy and stress-free for your customers.
Here are 10 things you can do to make customers want to share positive reviews and high ratings about your company.
1. Make it a no-brainer task.
No matter how great their experience may be, very few customers are going to go out of their way to find out where to submit a review or rate your business. Make it as easy as possible for customers to share their experience by sending them a direct link to your profile page on major review sites or encouraging the customer to rate your company on Facebook. Be direct with your request; a post-visit email encouraging customers to take action, or handing out postcards or business cards that list URLs to review sites as customers leave can be just the prompt they need to give you a review.
2. Participate in positive social media interactions.
Companies that maintain a positive social media presence may be able to garner more reviews and customer feedback than those who do not. A report by Syncapse reveals Facebook fans tend to “spend more, engage more, advocate more, and be more loyal," which is why it's imperative for businesses to invest time in social media activities on some level. Those activities can be as simple as quickly following up to all comments posted on your Facebook page, or responding to all reviews. This will show your fans that you're more than willing to communicate and interact with them—an important element of great customer service.
3. Send a personalized follow up.
Thank you emails to customers are a great tactic. But your customers will be less likely to forget about you when you follow up with a phone call or a handwritten letter. Instead of relying solely on an automated email to get feedback from your customers, consider calling them instead for a quick check-in to make sure they enjoyed their visit and to ask for feedback directly. This opens up the line of communication and adds a personal touch to the entire experience, which, in turn, may earn you a positive review.
4. Provide incentive to post a review.
For ethical reasons, you can't bribe a customer to post a review. But you can encourage more customers to share their feedback in exchange for a discount on a future visit as a way to show your appreciation for their efforts. Promote the fact that you extend a discount to all customers that take the time to complete a short survey after their visit, rate your business on Facebook, or post a review and rating on Google+.
5. Share reviews on social media.
Social media opens up the door to recognition and helps generate more business for your tour and activity company. Make the most of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by promoting rave reviews about your business and tagging the customer who wrote it. This puts the spotlight on the customer, makes them feel good about their review, and may also encourage other customers to follow suit so they can enjoy a few minutes in the spotlight. Customers who see how other reviewers are treated—whether that's in the form of promoting video testimonials on a dedicated section of your website or promoting a customer's comments on Facebook and Twitter—may help generate more reviews.
6. Host a contest.
Encourage customers to submit a review as their entry form for a contest to win a gift card or gift certificate, tickets for one of your experiences, or an exclusive package you are offering for the season.
Mighty Leaf ran this contest in 2009 to encourage more ratings and reviews of its teas and other products. Contestants had to write a qualifying review to be entreated into a random drawing for $100 in tea. The company made it easy for contestants to participate by including a "Write a Review" link on their product page and explaining they would contact winners by email.
7. Provide a seamless checkout process.
Your main focus as a tour or activity operator may be delivering amazing experiences for your customers and introducing them to a new activity, but don't forget the importance of the customer service experience before your visitor even sets foot on your property. When you use an online booking software program to coordinate reservations online, you want to make sure customers are going through a seamless checkout process. Monetate reports on how 75 percent of online shopping cart purchases are abandoned, and HubSpot explains that this could be because "your checkout process is too complicated or appears insecure." Other reasons for abandonment, according to HubSpot, include a checkout flow process that is too lengthy and technical difficulties with the shopping cart.
If you can present a seamless checkout process for your customers, you can not only secure a booking but also contribute to a positive customer service experience — something that many of your customers will be willing to share in the form of a positive review and high ratings.
8. Respond to negative reviews professionally.
Not all of your customers are going to be happy customers. Learning how to handle negative reviews effectively, however, can open up the door for more positive reviews since customers will see that you'll go out of your way to rectify a seemingly difficult situation. As we explained in our post about best practices for handling negative online reviews, sometimes the best approach is to turn the comment around by apologizing sincerely and then highlighting what you do right. Anything you post publicly that shows a casual visitor that you take care of your customers can improve your online image and, in turn, may attract more positive reviews and high ratings.
9. Go above and beyond with customer service.
First impressions and final impressions are going to leave a lasting effect on your customers. How your staff welcomes visitors as they settle in for their tour and activity and how the customer feels when they leave your venue will be some of the most memorable interactions your customer will have outside of the actual experience.
Train your staff to welcome every customer with excellent customer service practices, whether that involves greeting customers with a welcome package, providing a brief tour of the premises, or introducing them individually by name to key staff members. Leave customers with a token of your appreciation in the form of a thank you card, a gift bag, or any other type of tangible souvenir to leave a lasting impression.
These small gestures will help a customer feel more welcome and connected to your company—and may generate a positive review.
10. Offer free upgrades or gifts.
Whether you offer boat tours, run a bike rental company, or host any type of adventure with the option to add on extra time or upgrade to a better experience, occasionally offer complimentary upgrades to customers to ensure they enjoy an unparalleled experience. Consider how many customers will be raving about free upgrades they received when booking their tour or how thrilled they are that they received a free gift or souvenir upon departure. These freebies may be just what it takes to set your company apart from other tour and activity operators in the area, and generate some positive feedback in the form of online reviews and high ratings.
From personalizing the follow-up process to going the extra mile with customer service, there are several ways you can increase the chances of prompting a customer to post a positive review about your business online. Use these tips to help more customers share positive reviews and high ratings of your tour and activity business after each and every visit.