By Margaret Shuttleworth (TourismTiger.com) — 15 Mar 2018
You can be an amazing tour operator, but not everyone is going to love your tours. There will probably be some haters. Unfortunately, having a perfect score on TripAdvisor isn’t all about conducting excellent tours. But this doesn’t mean that you are always going to be stuck with the occasional bad TripAdvisor review that is going to hurt your overall score.
But you can get creative using these real examples…
One of TourismTiger and Rezdy’s clients, La Bicicleta Verde, does this through their blog. They have an article on their blog titled 7 People Who Should Avoid Our Tours, where they openly tell would-be clients that if they have these characteristics or tendencies, they should not bother going on a La Bicicleta Verde tour. Most tour operators already know what types of people won’t enjoy the tours that they offer. If the tour operator can find a way to prevent these people from signing up with them in the first place, you can avoid dealing with their bad reviews in the future.
Every single person who takes a tour with LBV completes a survey when they’re done with the tour. If the survey shows that they’re not 100% satisfied, they’re approached by LBV and asked how much money they think the tour was worth. Then, they are refunded the money. This way, even if someone doesn’t like the tour, they’re happy in the end because the tour operator was nice enough to refund them and they didn’t lose anything but time.
James Coulton of Select South West (100% of TripAdvisor reviews are “excellent”) has his own tips for tour operators on how to obtain and maintain a perfect 5 star rating.
Aside from what you should already be doing (being friendly to your customers!), James recommends that you anticipate any possible problem that could arise for your guests and have a solution ready. James operates a tour company in South West England, and he packs spare coats for guess who aren’t prepared for the UK’s climate. He also anticipates problems that could arise on any other type of tour, and you should prepare for these problems as well. He brings sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bandaids, charging cables for phones, toilet paper, wet wipes, a small toolkit, and scissors. If tour operators are prepared for these kinds of incidents, guests will have a much smoother time and everyone on the tour will enjoy their time, resulting in great TripAdvisor reviews for you.
This expertise will come with time as you meet and conduct tours for people from all over the globe. But to give you a small introduction to this idea, I’ll use an article from the New York Times in 2016 that talked about tour operators’ experiences with guests from the United States. The full article is certainly worth reading, especially if you are a tour guide operating outside the US. But I’ll give you a few key tips from the article:
Things to remember when handling travelers from the US: Americans tend to want a personal connection to the guide, they want to know a bit about your background, and they expect you to have an interest in them as well. They also want your tour to be interactive and entertaining: full of fun facts, not just straight information and detail.
Europeans tend to care less about the guide’s personal life and are more interested in getting an academic tour: full of information, and not necessarily entertaining.
If you are a guide in Italy conducting tours of Rome, and find yourself with a group of Americans, you should keep this idea in mind. If you approach the Americans the way you would a group of German travelers, you may get stuck with a bad TripAdvisor review, just because they were expecting another type of tour.
Always be prepared for customers who can’t just go with the flow. With platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor, a bad review can have devastating consequences on your business. Make sure to get ahead and prepare yourself for all situations and avoid those bad reviews.