New York Hotel Fines $500 For Negative Online Reviews. How Can They Fix It?

September 9th, 2014 by Search Influence Alumni

500fineA Hudson, NY hotel has a perplexing way of dealing with bad reviews. According to Page Six, instead of using bad reviews as constructive criticism, the hotel charges wedding couples $500 for each bad review their guests post online.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding, or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party.”

As expected, this caused the Internet to go into a frenzy. The day the story broke, the company’s Yelp page was flooded with over 500 bad reviews causing their review rating to plummet.

Since Yelp recently received a well-deserved boost from Google in their search results, Yelp reviews can significantly help or hinder a business.

Here are a few ways you can handle bad reviews without charging a $500 fine:

1. Respond to good and bad reviews:

Respond to all reviews, especially if they are asking a question or expressing a concern. When people take time out of their day to review your business, they like to be recognized. Responding to reviews lets consumers know that you care about your customers.

2. Strive to be great at what you do:

If you provide an all around excellent experience, you will get great Yelp reviews. It’s that simple!

3. Calmly address the Reviewer’s Issues:

When addressing a bad review remain polite and respectful. The reviewer is someone that gave your establishment a try and wasn’t happy with their experience for whatever reason. Hear this person out. If you respond in a negative way, it only makes your business look bad to other consumers. Not only can you ruin the chance of the reviewer changing their review or revisiting your establishment, this can also cause you to lose potential customers who choose businesses based on online reviews.

4. Offer a remedy:

If you think there is a way to rectify the situation, try to offer the person an incentive to come back. Send a private message that includes a coupon for a free milkshake or discounted service. Yelp users can use the update function to change their initial review. Everyone likes to feel that his or her opinion matters, so feeding a disgruntled user’s ego can sometimes quell the fury, and may lead them to reconsider their initial opinion of you.

5. Bad reviews should be used as constructive criticism

Never take a bad review personal. Bad reviews that are rational and deserved are not completely a bad thing. Use that negative review as a way to improve your business. Once you have fixed an issue or improved your business based on critiques, let the Yelp community know. They will be happy to know that their concerns matter and that you are listening.