The Review Doctor Is In!

The part of my job that I cherish the most is talking to hoteliers about their experiences with social media and online review sites. Because I have always been a prolific review writer and reader, I love to see the other side of the coin and I often marvel at how a consumer platform has become such a powerful source of information for businesses.

Today, a client who recently saw me speak at a conference about responding to reviews came to me with a challenging problem. He wrote:

I have a guest who was highly intoxicated upon departure (and during the stay) even making some lewd remarks to our Front Desk Staff. Upon departure, he did not check out, but rather walked away. During the room check, we found that a hairdryer was missing from the room so the guest was charged for this item.

You mentioned that I can inform TripAdvisor of guest names if they threaten to write a bad review, as a form of blackmail. This guest said that he will write a bad review if we do not refund the money. I looked for it on Tripadvisor, but couldn’t find it. Can you please advise me? Also, if he does write a review, are we allowed to say that he was “highly intoxicated upon departure?

First, I want to let you know that I rarely hear about cases of blackmail. But, the good news is that TripAdvisor does allow hotels to report anticipated blackmail and you can always petition to have the review removed.

Since you don’t want a negative review at the top of your page without a response, I also suggest you respond honestly. The beauty of TripAdvisor is that you get the last word and people visiting the site are often smart enough to understand what is being said between the lines. Here is my suggested response:

While we read every review and take all genuine feedback seriously, on rare occasions we do receive reviews that we know are not written with the intention of sharing real experiences with other travelers. This review was written by a guest that threatened he would write a bad review if we didn’t remove legitimate charges from his bill. We have alerted TripAdvisor and while we are disappointed that this issue couldn’t be resolved while he was on site, we believe in the power of TripAdvisor to inspire great travel and wanted to set the record straight. We do aim to have every guest leave happy and are sorry that we couldn’t please this guest.

My goal was to stay level-headed and professional, show future guests that the hotel takes feedback seriously, but also explain why the feedback wasn’t fair. Let me know your thoughts below!

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