Crafting Effective Google Reviews for Your Travel Agency
Google reviews are essential for any travel advisor or agency that wants to succeed online. They help potential customers learn more about you and build trust and loyalty with your agency. However, many advisors choke on asking for reviews or rely solely on impersonal, automated emails to do the heavy lifting. Let’s explore why Google reviews are vital, share tips on requesting effective reviews, discuss leveraging these reviews on social media, and offer guidance on responding to positive and negative feedback.
Why are reviews, specifically Google reviews, vital to your business?
Positive reviews on Google can make or break your travel agency. They serve as social proof and build trust with potential clients. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers read online reviews, 84% trust them as much as personal recommendations, and Google is the most trusted review platform across all industries. It seems simple enough, but before blasting your client base with review requests, understand how to ask for EFFECTIVE reviews.
The foundational aspects of an effective review
Believe it or not, a review is not solely about you! It’s hard to believe since it’s a statement about your business, but in reality, reviews are about your current and future clients. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that every review paints a vibrant picture of who you are, where your travel agency excels at, and why you’re the most dynamic person they have the honor of working with. One of the best things you can do to help get those effective reviews is to make it easy!
Tips for asking for effective reviews
Tell them WHY: Be honest! Help them understand that reviews help tell the story of what your travel agency does best. Your clients want you to be successful, and let them know their reviews are part of that success.
Tell them HOW: A 5-star review is good, but a 5-star review with a story of how you saved the day or curated an exhilarating adventure to an exotic location is great. But the most impactful review is their story with beautiful pictures from their adventure. The more information shared in a review, the more weight Google gives that review.
So how do you get that busy client to spend the time to craft that 5-star review? With the proper prompts! Here are a few examples, but think of a few more and keep them at the ready.
- What surprised you most about hiring our services/agency
- What problem/obstacle/preconceived notion did we overcome for you?
- In one sentence, how would you describe your vacation experience? (reviews don’t have to be paragraphs long.)
- Can you add some photos to your review?
Tell them WHERE: Before asking for a review, your Google Business Profile must be set up and optimized; they provide a great guide on getting started. From your Business Profile, use the “Get more reviews” button to get your review link. Use that link everywhere: your email signature, website, social media, create a QR code, etc.
Timing is Key: Ask for reviews when clients are most excited, typically after a successful trip or during the peak of their travel experience.
Personalize the Request: Send a personalized message with a couple of prompts asking for feedback. Express your gratitude for their business and let them know their opinion matters. You can streamline these requests by writing a few examples and saving them for future reference. Here are some examples.
I’m glad we were able to help plan your fabulous vacation, and we appreciate your business. If you have the time and wouldn’t mind, we’d love it if you shared this experience. Click here to leave a Google review. People like to see that they’ll get the support they need before, during, and after their travel.
Positive reviews from wonderful customers like you help others [families, busy professionals, honeymooners, etc.] just like you to feel confident about choosing ABC Travel. Could you take 60 seconds to go to [link to review platform] and share your happy experiences? We will be forever grateful.
Now it’s time to maximize those 5-star reviews on Social Media:
Sharing positive reviews on social media is a strategic move. Have fun with it. Use a client’s review and create a visually appealing social media post. You can also expand on that review by sharing the details of your interaction.
This is an example of an actual review left for On Deck Travel, “Effie was extremely helpful in negotiating our travel plans. She gave great advice that we would have otherwise never known. Our flights, time in Italy, and the cruise were fantastic.” That’s a great review from a happy customer! Imagine that review combined with a beautiful of Italy and posted on your social media pages.
Here’s an example of a post that could go along with that graphic that expands on the review to tell more of the story. “When Frank and his wife, Emma, came to On Deck Travel, they shared that they had always wanted to go to Italy but couldn’t figure out the best way to immerse themselves while being comfortable the entire trip. Our door-to-door service option was exactly what they needed. We took care of flights, transfers, pre and post-cruise hotels – all tied up into one complete package. As Celebrity Cruise experts, we quickly identified the exact itinerary, ship, and excursions that gave them the immersion experience they desired.”
Responding to Reviews - Positive and Negative:
Now, the reviews are flooding in, and they are fantastic. You’re on your way to 10, 20, 50+ five-star reviews! But what happens when you get the dreaded mediocre or even bad review? Don’t panic! Very few businesses have perfect five-star reviews. People reading reviews understand that there are two sides to every story, and consumers are generally more concerned with how a company responds to those bad reviews. First, don’t take it personally; it’s easy to get upset. Second, take a deep breath and professionally acknowledge the concern, offer a solution, and invite the reviewer to connect offline to resolve the issue. Also, don’t feel compelled to apologize for matters outside of your control, but be empathic to the reviewer in your response. Consider using AI tools like Chat GPT or Bard to help draft or improve your response.
One last note on responding to reviews: don’t just respond to the bad ones. Responding to good reviews is another way to engage and thank your clients. Also, according to the Harvard Business Review (source), businesses that respond to reviews get 12% more reviews, and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars.
In the competitive travel industry, Google reviews are a powerful asset. Small travel agencies can thrive by recognizing the impact of these reviews and implementing the strategies discussed in this post. Start implementing these strategies today and watch your travel agency's online presence soar.
Ready to unlock the secrets of crafting effective Google reviews to boost your travel business? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute power session with Jenn Lee, VP of Industry Engagement and Support; CLICK HERE to find time on Jenn’s calendar or connect with her Fiercely Forward Facebook group with over 1400 travel advisors.