Reviews can either make or break a business. While getting more and more reviews is important, it is equally important to stay on top of all the negative reviews that a business might receive. Getting a negative or downright mean review is a big nightmare for any business owner. Whether you are a hotel or any other business, your reputation over the OTA is extremely important for your customers. One of the most widely used platforms is Booking.com where the customers can leave their reviews and allow others to form an opinion about their business.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Booking.com is a travel fare aggregator and metasearch engine for lodging reservations. With over 29 million listings worldwide, this comes across as one of the most widely used OTA platforms for the guests to visit and book accommodation for themselves. It is evident from the research that “travelers are more likely to trust property with 20 reviews than one with 2 reviews –” Thus along with the quality even the quantity of reviews matters!
Thus, it is important to stay away from negative reviews. Everything that a customer writes about a hotel or any other service, to that matter of fact, may not be accurate. It must be kept in mind that a review is more of a subjective opinion after (or not) a first-hand experience which may or may not be the same for everyone. In a nutshell, all reviews are not reliable. Again, a deliberately crafted negative review bringing ill reputation to a business counts as fraudulent behavior. Hence every owner would be concerned about keeping away from such reviews which might have a stronghold over influencing the customers’ decisions in a negative manner.
Since one has no control over the negative reviews posted by the users, one has to opt for a viable solution. Sometimes an owner might just disagree with the content of a review as it might be a little misleading or detrimental to a property’s reputation. After all, there are two sides to every story! Not just the negative reviews, even the reviews where renovation or new change has not been noted yet and which might be a little misleading for the prospective customers, it is important to get them erased and start afresh.
But when it comes to removing reviews, Booking.com has its own set of rules and guidelines under which it processes the request for deleting the reviews.
But before diving deep into Booking.com review removal, it is important to understand that Booking.com allows reviews only from the verified users, unlike Google and TripAdvisor. That means the hotels get to verify if the user has stayed at their property and only those users can leave a review. In a way, the reviews are 100% genuine. But since a review is nothing but a subjective opinion of the customers, some content might be irrelevant or might not just be in keeping with the guidelines provided by the site.
According to Booking.com, you can request a review removal only in below-mentioned situations: • In the case of no-shows, cancellations, and overbookings (when the guest has been relocated as a result). • If we suspect that a review isn’t genuine and may be used to target a competitor, we’ll remove it completely. • If, after investigation, we determine that the guest reviewed the wrong property.
• If the review is used in a blackmail attempt from the guest’s side (valid written proof must be provided).Again, you can also request for a review to be removed if it seems to be going against the set guidelines: • When the review includes abusive language, swearing, discriminatory remarks, threats of violence and political or religious commentary. • When the review promotes illegal activities. • If it includes contact details like phone numbers, addresses, email addresses or website links.
In these cases, you can inform Booking.com via your extranet ‘Inbox’, using the subject ‘Reviews’.On their partner help center, Booking.com mentions this as well:
[Note: When comments are removed due to a breach of policies, the score will remain online.]
Is There a Way Around?
Surely, there is. Since it’s the guests who get the link from the Booking.com directly to review your property, you will have to get in touch with the guests, understand their grievances, pacify them and convince them to change or remove the review you need them to.
1. Win Over the Customer
You can attempt to get in touch with the customer by whom the negative review has been written and if something is not accurate, you can politely request them for a review removal since only a user has the authority to edit or delete a review from Google. Not just this, but while engaging in a conversation with the customer politely explain to them about the faults if there are in the reviews. In fact, there are certain best practices that you can resort to while responding to online reviews to win over the customer’s trust by letting them know that you value their feedback and are willing to do whatever it takes to improve their experience in the future.
Once convinced, here is what your guest can do:
• Contact Booking.com by phone (here they can find the phone number for their country) or login into their account.
• They will need to have their reservation number and pin code if they call or if they log in they will find the review on their account and can send an email. • An Agent in Booking.com can assist them with the process. Booking.com will send an email where the guest can resubmit the review that will substitute the old one.
Thus, by winning over the customer, you can actually remove a negative review and at the same, appease the potential customers with your reassuring response to the negative review posted by a disgruntled customer.
2. A Sincere Follow-Up to Convince the Disgruntled Customer
A sincere follow-up with the customers to resolve your issues will surely culminate into something positive. You can also send them a sorry email, invite them once again to your location or bring to their notice the issues that you have fixed as per their request. Once you have successfully won over your customers, you can ask them to edit or delete the review for you.
3. Reply Even to a Negative Or Possibly Fake Review
The reason behind doing this is that it creates trust and lets the potential customers know that you can handle even the negative criticism well. Again, prompt action shows that you are committed to customer service.
This is how you can reply to a negative or fake review:
Hi (the reviewer’s name),
We thank you for posting your review and at the same time, we apologize for any dissatisfaction that you might have experienced. Unfortunately, we do not have any recollection or record of a customer experience befitting this account. Again, we apologize that we are unable to verify anything about your identity from your name in our records. We take these issues very seriously and we humbly request you to contact our executive (name) immediately at (email address) to allow us to look into this matter and resolve it immediately if you were a client of ours.
(Name), General Manager
In a nutshell,
• Verify your records.
• Thank the customer and respond to the review (Yes, even if it’s fake)
• Address the complaint and apologize for the dissatisfaction they might have experienced.
• State that you can’t seem to trace them in your records or are unable to verify their identity.
• Offer them to reach out to you by providing your contact details.
• Once you’re convinced that the review is fraudulent, report or flag it!
Here are some of the best practices that will help you in responding accurately to the negative reviewsBooking.com has a strict policy when it comes to removing reviews. But obviously, it is stricter when it comes to removing fake reviews. If they detect that the review is fake, they will remove it without notifying anyone, in case of a suspected foul play.
a. An effective and technology-driven end-to-end solution like Instant Review invite or Guest Messaging will be the most effective in helping you with your reputation management which, in turn, will help you increase your Google Reviews. Again, a review generation tool will help streamline the entire review process and drive more business.
b. Amplify your positive responses by playing your role in providing the customers with a great experience which, in turn, will help you fetch more reviews.
How to Manage the Reviews Effectively to Avoid the Hassle of Removal
• Manage your Reviews on an everyday basis. Review Management Solution can come in handy to help you respond to the reviews accurately on go by managing them all on a single dashboard. • Timely respond to the reviews on Booking.com as this can also encourage the guests to leave you a review by conveying the message that you consider their feedback valuable and care to respond to each of them. • Make your offline actions better by seeking to improve. Overhaul or renovation can influence your reputation and ranking to a great extent. • Formulate a schedule to check your reviews • Take your time to analyze or distinguish a fishy review from the real one. • For further assistance, you can also contact Booking.com by following the steps mentioned above.
• Get a Reputation Management Solution to save yourself from the peril of fake or negative reviews as it allows you to check and respond to your reviews timely by bringing them all in one place.
• Handle the negative reviews pretty well by deploying a personal yet professional tone in curating your response which acts as a great indicator of your reputation as a hotel or business.• •
No business owner can afford to see his hard-earned reputation getting tarnished in a day by one disgruntled customer. Hence it is important to stay ahead in the game and take the necessary precautions before the situation blows out of proportion.
Removing a review from Booking.com might not be an easy task and might take some time as the platform receives a large number of reviews per day. But with the right technique and patience, your business will surely see the light of the day in the form of more positive reviews. In fact, one of the best ways to combat negative reviews is to strive for getting more positive ones. Hence it is important to invest in a good reputation management solution that will help ease your worries to a great extent.
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