How to Handle Negative Online Reviews at Your Venue

June 20, 2023

It happens to seemingly every brand, product, or service: subpar interactions causing those dreaded negative reviews. Such things can play a significant role in a customer choosing to visit your venue or staying far, far away. With that in mind, what's the best way to handle them? Reply directly? Completely ignore? TablelistPro breaks down exactly what your nightclub or bar should do in these instances – and it may involve more steps than you think.

1) Stay up-to-date with all outlets that have reviews.

Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook are considered the "big four," but reviews are left on many other sites, as well – so be sure to consistently check each of them.

2) Respond to all reviews.

Ignoring a review is like ignoring a problem: it will not make it go away. As you might conclude, doing so can leave an even greater sour taste in the mouth of the reviewer, in turn hurting you more in the long run. Consumers actually expect brands to reply to their reviews; however, Review Trackers says while 53% of people anticipate a response within a week, 63% of them say they've never even been answered. Therein lies the issue. If you had the opportunity to make things better by simply responding, why wouldn't you?

3) Apologize and take responsibility.

The simple act of acknowledging any wrongdoings goes a long way. Say the person reviewing had complains about slow service at your bar; use your reply as an opportunity to recognize the issue and share that you will look into it so it's avoided in the future. Did someone have an incident with a staff member? Take ownership of it, as TablelistPro partner Red Lantern Boston has done.

4) Show appreciation for the review.

Each response should include some form of "thank you," as it's an easy way to show that you care about the people who walk through your doors and their opinions. Express that you're grateful they took the time to share their thoughts – after all, constructive criticism could be used to improve your operations.

5) Don't be defensive.

You've heard the phrase "the customer is always right," and in the case of negative reviews, it's especially true. Avoid making anyone look or feel bad, and do not discredit their comments. Remember, these reviews are public, so your writing's tone and voice should be delicate and respectful, no matter the circumstance – which means not getting defensive.

6) Make things right.

Whenever you have an opportunity to right a wrong, do it! Depending on the specific issue at hand, you can try to make things right by offering a refund, a discount on their next booking, or a special drinks deal at your nightclub or bar. Personalize this for each one, though, because if the reviewer had a less-than-ideal experience, there's a likelihood they're not interested in visiting your venue again in fear of having another bad night.

7) Take it offline.

Sometimes, situations are better handled in a less public forum. Miami hot spot LIV offers to speak with their customers outside of TripAdvisor, allowing for a more honest, candid, and direct conversation.

8) Relay the message to your staff.

Once you reply, your work isn't complete! Speak with the rest of your team and pass along any noteworthy information from within the review so they may improve upon and avoid these mistakes and reviews. According to Nightclub & Bar, Zee Brown of Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill in Plant City, Florida speaks with her staff about every single poor review. "We relentlessly look at them so we can avoid repeat offenses," she says. "This helps the staff remain accountable for their behavior because customers will not hesitate to blast the server who was responsible for the failed customer experience. We don't rest on our laurels; we address the review, act appropriately, learn from it and move forward. We seek pleasure from having good reviews, which is our ultimate goal."

Want to lessen your chances of unfavorable reviews even more? Sign on with TablelistPro, the leading real-time online reservations and venue management software for nightclubs, lounges, bars, and events. Our app has proven to help streamline our venue partners' operations, lift sales, and enhance customer service so that unpleasant nights out become a thing of the past. Learn more about TablelistPro and schedule a complimentary demo, visit our website or fill out this form.

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