Are you making the most of your guest feedback?

The good, the bad, and the…still good to know? For attractions, there really is no such thing as bad guest feedback.
Ellen Wilkinson
September 2022

Capturing and understanding guest feedback remains one of the most impactful things your attraction can do to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty. After all, there is no better way to figure out what's going right and wrong than to find out directly from your guests. 

However, even though guest feedback is always great to get, how you receive feedback and what you do afterwards can make or break guests' perceptions of your attraction's business. 

Public Negative Feedback Is Bad For Business

A minority of attraction guests will inevitably have a bad experience. Recent research by pollster Gallup shows that the average person today is more likely to feel unhappy (an emotional state that makes bad experiences more likely) compared to previous years. 

By default, negative feedback isn't a problem for attractions. It can even be a good thing. It's just that the first time you see a bad review of your attraction shouldn't be on social media. 

Negative reviews on sites like Tripadvisor or posts on forums like Reddit and Mumsnet can damage your brand and reputation. According to a study published by Brightlocal this year, 81% of customers use Google to evaluate a business before interacting with it. The same study also showed that only 3% of people would consider an experience or product with an average 2-star rating or less.

This means that pretty much all of your guests are looking at reviews of your attraction before they plan their visit. And if they see enough negative reviews, they won't even consider coming. 

But just how much damage can a single bad online review do? The answer is a lot. According to Andrew Thomas, who wrote an article for Inc. magazine titled “The Secret Ratio That Proves Why Customer Reviews Are So Important,” it takes 40 five-star reviews on a site like Google Reviews to undo the damage done by a single one-star rating

Thomas reckons that happy customers are ten times less likely than unhappy ones to leave a review. To maintain an average rating of four stars on a review site, a business needs four five-star reviews for each one-star review. Or forty happy visitors for every dissatisfied one. A single negative review has also been shown to drive away an average of 30 new customers.

Stop Letting Great Feedback Slip Away

Everyone agrees Shakespeare was a good writer. Amazon user Peanut09, however, begs to differ. Their review of Othello describes the classic tragedy as "hard to follow." Fair criticism or not, they gave their copy of the play 2 out of 5 stars. 

Peanut09 will not hurt Shakespeare's reputation. But when disgruntled guests take to social media to complain about a bad experience, they do real damage. 

While most guests have a great experience and leave positive reviews, the truth is that guests place much more value on negative reviews than positive ones. This means that not only do you need every positive review you can get, but you also need to capture negative sentiment before it goes public.

To get more accurate feedback, and reduce negative reviews online, change how you survey guests.

Randomly sampling guests as they leave your attraction will not give you accurate feedback. When your team asks them, guests will either provide a positive rating or simply decline to comment. Behaviour like this is well recognised in customer service research and can lead to an overly positive bias among surveyors. It's easy to think everything is great when only happy people talk to you. 

For your attraction, this means that the guests you talk to are likely to be the ones who tell you everything is fine. 

The same is true for email surveys that go out to guests after they visit your attraction. With an average response rate of around 6% from a typical email survey, most people will not respond when you send them an email asking for feedback. 

A much better way to get guest feedback is to go digital. At Attractions.io, we have integrated guest feedback into our mobile apps. This allows you to get a lot more input from a greater proportion of guests with less admin. Promoted through a Bluetooth beacon installed near your attraction's exit or via a push notification, guests get a chance to leave immediate and honest feedback on the evening of their visit. 

This kind of digital technology also adds another layer to the feedback process. Our apps allow attractions to automatically ask happy guests to leave feedback on TripAdvisor, while anyone who leaves negative feedback is requested to provide details. 

In this way, disgruntled guests have a chance to tell you precisely what their issue was, you have an opportunity to address it, and negative reviews online become less likely to happen.

Use Feedback Loops to Turn Happy Guests Into Brand Champions

Using a mobile guest app to collect guest feedback can do much more than just decrease the chances of negative reviews. Digital feedback tools like mobile apps can help you leverage one of the most powerful forces in modern marketing: word-of-mouth (WOM). 

92% of people place recommendations from people they know above all other sources. A similar number is likely to go ahead with a purchase if they read a review from a source they trust. 

Attractions can boost their chances of benefiting from WOM marketing by giving more guests a chance to leave positive reviews and responding to guests differently, depending on their feedback. With a mobile app, you can react to satisfied and unsatisfied guests with different messages and prompts. For example, you might choose to provide guests who had a bad experience with a discount code or free return visit, and bag yourself another opportunity to win them over.

Based on research, almost half of all your guests (45%) who are not happy will consider coming back if you respond to their review and take real action to remedy the situation. Similarly, engaging with positive reviews can help turn a good experience into a great one, dramatically boosting the chances of a recommendation.

Once you've optimised your feedback loop and addressed any recurring negative experiences, its time to make sure you share positive feedback with prospective visitors and encourage them to hit that booking link. Check out this guide we put together to help you snag the top spot for your attraction on Trip Advisor.

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Ellen Wilkinson

Marketing Manager and Zoo Enthusiast
September 2022

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