The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How to Navigate Online Campground Reviews
In recent years, online reviews have become an integral part of the consumer buying experience. One 2022 survey found that over 90% of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.
With that influence only growing, it’s worth your while as a campground owner or manager to practice good habits when it comes to your online reviews. Whether you’re receiving positive feedback or dealing with a harsh critic, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Know What People Are Saying
Letting a bad review sit unanswered is never a good look for business. Regularly monitoring your online reviews helps you quickly respond to negative feedback and understand your guests' expectations.
Checking your Google reviews is a good place to start, since almost two-thirds of consumers are likely to check Google reviews before visiting a business. (If you don’t have a Google Business profile for your campground, click here to learn more.)
You can also search for your campground on sites like TripAdvisor, Campendium, Reserve America, RV Parky or RV Life Campground. Wherever possible, you’ll want to claim your campground listings on these sites so you can easily find and respond to reviews.
Certain paid programs can track reviews for you, but setting up a Google Alerts for your campground is a free and easy alternative to manually monitoring reviews. With Google Alerts, you’ll get an email notification whenever someone posts about your campground online.
It may seem like just another time commitment, but responding promptly to your campground’s online reviews is best for business. Responding to reviews, both good and bad, shows that you value what your guests have to say and establishes you as a communicative and transparent business owner.
Try to respond to as many positive reviews as possible, even if it’s just with a simple thank you. With negative reviews, it’s always a good idea to respond. Seeing a negative review is frustrating, especially when it doesn’t accurately reflect your campground. While it may seem easier to ignore the outliers, responding publicly to a bad review shows you care about your guests’ concerns and helps build a positive online presence.
Take the High Road
Responding to negative reviews is important, but how you respond is just as crucial. A 2021 study found that 56% of consumers say that a business’s response to reviews changed their perspective on that business. No matter how nasty or unreasonable a negative review is, responding in a calm and professional manner helps you regain control of the situation.
When responding to a guest’s negative review:
- Acknowledge their feelings and tell them you appreciate their feedback
- If their complaint involves something within your control, apologize for the issue and let them know what you’re doing to remedy the problem.
- If their complaint involves out of your control, still acknowledge their frustration and explain if necessary (and yes, you may have to explain that you don’t control the weather)
It can be tempting to take the bait and give an argumentative or unapologetic response to a negative review. But that can make a bad situation worse and sour your reputation. A courteous, reasonable response has a better chance of winning over frustrated customers and shows other online viewers that you handle criticism with care.
Address Situations Head-On
Being proactive during your guests’ visits is one of the best ways to nip negative reviews in the bud. Campers who experience an issue are more likely to leave a poor review if the problem goes unaddressed during their stay. This is where communication and checking in on your guests is key.
If you can’t check up on all your guests personally, campground management software like Firefly Reservations can help. Firefly lets you send custom mass emails or SMS messages to guests, so you can alert everyone if the Wi-Fi is down or text personally with a concerned guest. While face-to-face communication is preferred for addressing problems, using campground management software helps you maintain consistent contact.
Give Positive Review-Worthy Service
It’s easy to stay hung up on that one negative review, but focusing on generating positive reviews is one of the best forms of free advertising for your campground.
Providing a memorable stay for your guests can be as simple as:
- Greeting guests personally and checking in on them throughout their stay
- Communicating upfront about any service or amenity issues (for example, if the pool will be closed for maintenance)
- Consider offering a discount or other freebie if your guests experience an issue during their stay (like losing electricity or Wi-Fi)
- If the weather is bad, make recommendations for nearby indoor activities
- Quickly respond to any concerns and make an effort to resolve them ASAP
Direct communication and a few personal touches can go a long way in creating a positive guest experience and preventing negative-review grief.
Use Reviews to Guide Your Business
Online reviews give you a clear roadmap of what you’re doing right and what could be improved. If you’ve received multiple reviews complaining about the bathrooms or an outdated playground, those could be areas where you want to direct your focus and budget in the future.
There will always be a review here and there with unreasonable complaints. The key is to control what you can and communicate clearly about what you can’t. By using your online reviews as a guide for your campground, you'll help create happy campers and prop your business up for success.