Imagine my Disappointment…

Marketing expert Sarah Orchard explains the real cost of a negative online review.

Photo: Getty Images

It’s been estimated that a negative customer review on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook can cost a company about 30 customers. It’s a pretty scary statistic isn’t it?

Social media is a great way of getting your marketing messages to a wide audience. From Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to YouTube, there’s no arguing with its effectiveness in building brand awareness and giving guests a reason to visit your glampsite. Until you fall foul of a negative opinion, that is – and then it feels like there’s no place to hide. Because an awful lot of people are going to see it!

Making a complaint used to mean writing a Mr or Mrs ‘Angry’ letter to a company’s customer service department or returning to a store to demand a refund. It was largely a private interaction between two parties, unless you told a few friends along the way to never use that particular company, or you had a slanging match with the store manager and attracted a large crowd. But now, even the opinion of just one person can be shared with hundreds or even thousands of other potential customers in an instant.

The fear of a bad customer experience

Such is the fear factor of negative online reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, that it’s probably one of the most common concerns that crops up when I discuss the use of blogging and social media as part of a marketing plan with glamping business clients. Nobody wants to risk their reputation or the possibility of losing or alienating guests because of a negative online review, but shying away from social media presents (potentially) an even greater risk – that of losing out on exposure and the ability to target your ideal guests.

It may feel like you don’t have full control of your brand online – and it’s true, you don’t. Total control is history. The days of pushing out marketing messages and expecting your audience to simply listen and do what you want are long gone. What we have now is a two-way dialogue. And that’s priceless.

So when can a negative review be a good review?

Online reviews give you instant access to your guests’ thoughts and feelings. You can get a good understanding of how your recent guests perceive your glampsite, and all feedback – good or bad – provides a way of measuring success and ensuring continual improvement of the glamping experience you have created and are actually delivering.

If someone does leave a negative comment, don’t feel humiliated or upset. Okay, that’s easy to say and you probably will feel hurt initially. But pick yourself up and look on it as an opportunity. Yes, really.

A guest has brought something to your attention – you may not have even been aware of it, so this is your chance to make a positive change about that particular element of your glamping experience. Show that you’re prepared to listen – address their concerns, offer a partial refund, or another stay at a discounted rate to show that you have put it right. Do whatever is necessary to give your guest a sense of satisfaction and resolution. Be considerate and sincere in your response. Be seen to respond promptly to the feedback and then take further discussion offline to resolve fully.

Get it right and you will actually build greater customer loyalty and trust. Others will see that you actually care about keeping your guests happy. And that negative will become a positive.

Trust your guests’ common sense…

When delivering an experience it is almost impossible to get it 100 per cent spot on, 100 per cent of the time. So you may get a negative comment once in the while. It’s been shown that future guests looking at TripAdvisor, Facebook or Google reviews tend to take things on balance and look at feedback scores overall.

If the majority of guests gave four to five star reviews, the one that left a one star review is unlikely to sway them from staying. That one negative review might be because the guest chose the wrong glampsite for them and your future guests may even realise this when reading it. So one negative review, although disappointing, is not the end of the world for your reputation.

Speed is of the essence!

Your speed of response is vital. Your glamping guests will be using sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google so reviews here should be monitored regularly. Always, always, always monitor the reviews you receive and act immediately on any that are negative. Post a reply and then take it offline to continue the dialogue and fully resolve the issue. If you’re lucky, that customer will then feel compelled to write a new review about the excellent customer service they have just received.

No matter how bad it may be, do resist the urge to remove a negative online review. Guests may even be suspicious of reviews that are nothing less than glowing and give five stars. Follow my advice and even negative reviews will end up working in your favour.



Sarah Orchard helps owners of glamping sites and other hospitality businesses get their marketing approach spot on to get more bookings without using expensive online agents. She is a professionally qualified Chartered Marketer with over 25 years’ hands-on marketing experience in travel and tourism. Sarah is also currently developing and launching her own glampsite with her husband – an exciting new venture and a big learning curve too! For more on Sarah and her marketing services, visit and

About Open Air Business 1380 Articles
The voice of outdoor hospitality - in print and online. If you liked this article, subscribe to the printed magazine here. We produce industry e-news between issues - please sign up here