Let me start with an example. Recently, I reviewed a property on Tripadvisor, like I do most times I return from a trip. All that I wrote was hunky dory apart from the last line that complained of power cuts. Two days later, I got a response from the manager (I assume) mentioning the rare lapse in power and superfluously articulating on the solar system they have at the place. No ‘thank you’ for the good things written. No ‘thank you’ for staying with us. No ‘looking forward to having you again’. Plain Jane defensive statement which in all earnestness did not even address the problem. It is clear that the manager was not writing to me, instead he was writing to all the other viewers who might not get too motivated to stay at a place with potential power cuts, that too in South India. I understand where he was coming from, but I also would be critical in the handling of social media image, which now would look too artificial, especially if you are in hospitality where ‘warmth’ is the first voice of expression that you need to convey.
It is understandable for a hotel/restaurant to get defensive on Tripadvisor, as it is a bona fide influencer to millions (if not billions) of travellers across the world. If you are in doubt, you can also write to the reviewer (I have done that twice to good effect) to ask more questions. Recently, I stayed in a property in Kerala, and to my surprise (or not), at least 5 out of 7 people I met were there largely due to their navigational efforts on Tripadvisor. If it matters, those 5 were from all walks of life from all parts of the world. That all of us (including me), relied upon Tripadvisor was a testimony to the reach and influence the portal has on young and seasoned travellers alike. It also shows a drift in our tendencies to self-book than relying on commission-hungry travel agents. Personally, I always recommend the former.
Also, what I have noticed on Tripadvisor is the honesty with which travellers review hotels. And honesty can either make or damage a property. For me I can speak, I take special interest in how a property manager responds to any negative feedback. I feel that any property can make a mistake, especially a one catering to discerning, unforgiving guests. A social quarrel between the property manager and guests is a big no-no for me. I immediately dismiss that property from my to-stay list. If a property is largely charming with a few negative comments (with the exception of food), I would like to read more and make judgment on law of averages and quality of response from the property manager. All positive comments, which actually exist, of course, sway me towards that property, if it fits the budget that is.
My unsolicited advise to all property owners: Have qualified personnel to address Tripadvisor grievances, otherwise damages can easily have a long-term adverse effect.