Dealing with Online Reviews: A Guide for Tour Operators

There has been tons of studies and research into the power of customer reviews and their importance in converting sales for tour operators.  The bottom line is customer reviews are hugely influential when it comes to your customer deciding whether to book with you or not.

According to a survey sponsored by Zendesk, 90% of 1,046 participants said that positive online reviews did influence their buying decisions.


Getting Reviews and How to Deal with Them

If you’re operating a small tour operator business and do not have many reviews, then your first step is to actively start building the number of reviews you have.  You can do this in a number of ways but the most obvious and effective way is to just ask directly.  When finishing up a tour ask your customers to leave a review either on your own site, if you have a section where this can be done, or on TripAdvisor.


Many businesses are fearful of negative reviews and the impact that this could have on their business. Research however has shown, including studies by PhocusWright, that a small number of bad reviews do not put tourists off. In fact it adds credibility to the reviews that are there, showing that they are not just cherry picked.

 online review


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Some businesses may be tempted to just ask those customers who they know had a good experience to leave a review.  Sure, that’s one way to approach it but it ultimately may not be in your best interests.  Tripadvisor in a recent Insights post, outline why they think this is a bad idea:

  1. Don’t assume you know what people are going to say – give customers the opportunity to surprise you

  2. Well rounded reviews set realistic expectations – if a customer reads nothing but positive, glowing reviews they do not know what to expect.  It’s better to get a realistic image of your business across, warts and all

  3. When all reviews are stellar, it’s almost not believable

  4. Travellers focus on the positive – the majority of tourists ignore extreme reviews

  5. Hold yourself accountable – if someone had a bad experience, why was that? and did you do anything about it? If you tried to address the issue, this should be reflected in the review. If the customer is being unreasonable despite your address, that should come through loud and clear as well

  6. How do you know what to improve if you don’t get feedback? – you don’t know what all your guests think

  7. Demonstrate confidence in your product – by inviting all your customers to review your business you are demonstrating confidence in your business. If not, then that’s even more reason to get more feedback and fix it

  8. Honesty is the best policy


Showcasing your reviews

If you have done the hard work and received a good number of positive reviews, then you need to shout about it. In a previous blog post on ‘Making your Tourism Business Website Effective’, we talked about ‘Social Proof’.

When people are looking to book something they want to hear what other people think to get validation.  Here’s an example of one of our customers, The Kilkenny Way, showing very clearly on their website their Tripadvisor rating. This automatically gives validation to your website visitor.  Don’t just put it along the side or down at the bottom of the page where it’s not immediately obvious, make it front and centre of your website.

Online Reviews


The Power of Reviews for Tour Operators

For this reason reviews from customers can be very powerful and have a massive impact on your tour operator business.  There is a lot of competition out there and one way to stand out from the crowd and get seen is through gathering a lot of positive customer reviews.  One of our customers particularly stands out when it comes to Tripadvisor ratings, and they have worked hard to build their rating.  They estimate that over 80% of their business is now coming from this channel (they of course use Acteavo to give their customers the ability to book when they get to their website!). There may be some negative reviews along the way, which may or may not be warranted, but as outlined above it pays off in long run to get as many as reviews as possible and it ultimately help you grow as a business.



Images: via Shutterstock

Danielle Mallen
Danielle Mallen
COO at Acteavo
Danielle is the COO of Acteavo and its customer experience champion. You can follow Danielle on Twitter and Linkedin.