Online Reviews: Should they matter for Tourism PR in Scotland?
Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
Online reviews can be helpful, but at times they’re best avoided.
THINK about the process of purchasing a product, signing up for a service, or embarking on a holiday.
What’s the first thing you would do? Look it up online, right?
The next step would be to check out the reviews, maybe on Google, Yelp or popular travel rating site TripAdvisor. This could change your entire itinerary, shopping list or business plans. A good write-up may confirm the wisdom of your intended purchase but a slam is likely to make you think twice.
Find out how negative reviews should actually be the chance for you to ensure a positive impact on your business. Why? Because nobody really believes in Mary Poppins and constructive feedback from customers is worth its weight in gold.
Shocked by this treatment, the father then exercised his online muscle, urging his friends and family to leave negative reviews. The results were fast and powerful. Within a day the eatery was forced to shut down its social channels in an attempt to manage the widespread and negative criticism it was facing, while its review rating had plunged through the floor.
Shutting down its social media sites was entirely the wrong move on several fronts. Not least because such a move generally suggests there are wider and deeper business problems to contend with.
How about this as an alternative: what if the chip shop had not only let the little girl use the toilet, but had also given her an ice cream to make her feel better afterwards? For the cost of a cone, the venue would have turned the father into an advocate who just might have shared a positive message with his friends. At the very least, a social media firestorm would have been averted.
Check out our post on the chip shop toilet fiasco and our tips on managing a crisis in a time of smartphones. A crisis can come from anywhere and online reviews can often be where it begins. Learn to manage them and customer expectations.
It’s not just restaurants and other small businesses that are at risk of harsh feedback. Leading Scottish attractions can also fall victim to the amateur critic’s pen. Consider Edinburgh Castle. It is Scotland’s top tourist attractions, yet not everyone sees it that way.
Of more than 20,000 reviews, 111 are marked as terrible. Let’s look at some of them. One user blasts the views as “not the greatest”, while another blasts it as being too full of tourists. You couldn’t make up this kind of stuff!
Yet another Castle complainant goes on to moan about finding a hair in his cake in the cafe. However, even this age of smartphone cameras, the unahappy diner failed to provide any photographic evidence, leaving would-be visitors wondering just how truthful the review might be.
It’s not only Edinburgh Castle that is on the receiving end of this kind of sharp review. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum rece, another hugely popular tourist destination, has also suffered.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The commenter discounts the top attraction as both “boring” and “good”. Which is most helpful.
What about Scotland’s highest peak?
“Not actually that tall”. So don’t worry about travelling to Fort William. There are some real corkers around this particular attraction but it’s worrying that people are served by these reviews.
Our final attraction is the UK’s number one visitor site: The Royal Yacht Britannia. As the former vessel of a monarch it attracts quite a lot of attention and even gets some reviews objecting to its very existence.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Someone says they thought about asking for their money back. However, in a brave move the attraction’s marketing manager responded directly to the criticism:
If you’re a business owner you obviously can’t respond to every single negative notice but you should bear in mind these key tips:
- Establish if the reviewer actually visited your business. Can you pinpoint who they are? Ask your staff.
- Verify the authenticity of their review. If they say they complained, do you have a record?
- Respond. If they’re in the right, say sorry and point them to a more positive experience as a way of showing others it isn’t a usual result. If you have reason to believe it’s a vengeful review or is from someone who didn’t visit, challenge them for more information.
- Never ignore reviews. Take the time to respond to them. It may damage your business if you chose not to.
When a wedding planner lost the plot, find out how her online rant left a 700 year old castle under siege from angry brides all over the world. Plus our useful tips on how to manage a crisis on social media.
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A version of this was published on STV News, read on their site here.
Private: Kenny Murray
Kenny Murray is part of the expert PR team at Holyrood Partnership, an award-winnning Scottish public relations agency, which offers media relations, social media, photography, video, crisis management and PR in Edinburgh.View Private:'s Profile
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