Before the internet, consumers would ask their friends and family for input and guidance on goods and services. They made decisions based on whether a brand came recommended by people who were close to them. Businesses in the travel industry can build that same confidence and credibility with potential customers by taking advantage of testimonials and reviews in order to increase online travel bookings.
The Difference between reviews and testimonials
Before we go in depth about how to use both for your business, we need to establish the difference between the two. Although both reviews and testimonials can both be beneficial in your effort to increase online travel bookings, it’s important to know the difference.
Reviews are positive, negative, or neutral reviews of your business that are made on independent websites. You cannot control what people write or how they rate your business; all you can do is respond. Online review platforms for the travel industry include Google, Yelp, and Trip Advisor.
Remember to set up profiles for your business on each of these review sites! A good place to start is Google My Business. Click here to learn how to get started!
Testimonials are positive reviews that are found on your website. These reviews are approved, solicited, and/or even written by your business. They tend to be very biased, but are still a great way to build trust with consumers.
Maximize customer reviews
These days, trust can be built or shattered based on a business’s online reviews. If you have great reviews, people will be lining up to give you their money. If you have bad reviews, people will assume they should avoid you. No reviews at all? Potential customers will feel as if you’re a risk to do business with.
In order to take advantage of review platforms, you need to ensure that your business is doing the following:
Ask happy customers to review your business
The best way to ensure that your business is being frequently reviewed is also the easiest: ask for them! After you work with a customer who was clearly happy with your services, make sure you’re asking for a review. This can be as simple as asking in person, giving them a card with your preferred review platforms, offering an incentive for customers to give you a review, or setting up a system that emails customers after their trip.
Attract positive reviews
If you start asking for reviews and find that most of them are turning out to be negative, you need to take a look at your business practices and seriously consider what changes need to be made. Customers who come away unhappy with your services are going to be very motivated to leave a review as their “revenge”. The customers who are going to leave positive reviews are going to be the ones you go above and beyond for. In order to ensure that your business attracts positive reviews, you need to offer an above and beyond experience for all of your customers.
Respond to all reviews
While it is crucial to make sure that your business is responding to all reviews, how you respond to the negative reviews says more about your business than how you respond to the positive. Responding to negative reviews is an art form. You have to make sure you don’t apologize for or admit fault, but also never blame the customer for anything.
“We’re sorry that you feel ____! Customer satisfaction is extremely important to us, and we always try to ensure we ____ (go above and beyond for customers, provide stellar service, promptly assist travelers… Whatever makes sense in the situation!). We appreciate your review and will look into what we can do to improve our service. Please let us know if you have any further suggestions!”
Build trust through testimonials
Testimonials are a great way to build trust with potential customers. Testimonials can be used to highlight why potential customers should work with you or address common concerns through the words or happy previous customers.
Like with reviews, the easiest way to get testimonials is to ask for them. When you know you’ve gone above and beyond for a customer, ask them if they would mind providing you with a testimonial.
The best way to ensure that you get a quality testimonial from a customer is to ask a series of questions instead of just asking them to come up with their own testimonial from scratch. This way you can guide the customer’s feedback and string together their answers to form a testimonial that will be effective for your business.
Once a customer sends you their answers, put together the full testimonial using the words from both the questions and answers. When you’re happy with the result, send the testimonial back to the customer for approval. (Note: this does not mean you can write the testimonial yourself! Make sure you’re using your customer’s language).
By asking for testimonials this way, you can control the quality of the testimonials and ensure that they are focused around what you really want your potential customers to know.
Use customer feedback to increase online travel bookings
Once you have reviews and testimonials for your business, you can use them on your website to build trust with your target travelers. Including testimonials on your homepage, a slideshow of Google reviews, or having an entire page dedicated to customer reviews and/or testimonials is a great way to highlight positive customer experiences on your website.
Want to go a step further? Ask your happy customers if they would be willing to let you get their testimonial on video!
Not all customers will feel comfortable with this or be good candidates, but video testimonials can be invaluable for your business. They allow potential customers to feel connected with the person behind the testimonial, and like they’re getting a referral from a friend.
Video testimonials can be used on your website as well as social media and other marketing materials to increase online travel bookings.
In order for your video testimonials to be truly effective, they need to look professional. Video testimonials should be created by a professional or someone who is familiar with cameras, lighting, and sound.