What are people saying about your marina online? Are they saying anything at all?
While word of mouth traditionally brings referrals to businesses, the internet has expanded the way that people communicate and share information about products and services. According to a BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey, 92% of people read reviews before making a purchase decision, and 80% trust these reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That means with just a few Google searches, boaters can form an opinion about your marina without ever visiting your website or physical location.
What your boaters are saying online should matter to you because the internet has created a space for people to leave their opinions. This feedback could seriously affect your reputation and your bottom line, so don’t underestimate the power of a bad review!
Positive vs. Negative
Positive reviews create trust and encourage boaters to visit your marina. Negative reviews do the exact opposite and serve as testimonials from people who have experienced your service and left disappointed. For some, posting a negative review is a way to vent frustration or to save someone else from having a similar fate. No one is going to choose your marina if all they see are bad reviews.
Yelp is one of the most popular review sites on the internet with over 90 million monthly visitors and 108 million posted reviews. Reviews on Yelp have such an impact that “a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue” for a business, according to a Harvard Business Study. Focused specifically on the marine industry, Active Captain is another popular site for boaters to leave their opinions. Feedback posted on these sites or social media are powerful enough to boost your sales/number of boaters or disrupt and halt your operations.
So what can you do to avoid people leaving negative reviews of your marina? You can take two actions; either reactive or proactive.
The reactive scenario: You hop online and see that someone posted a not-so-nice review about your marina. You contact that person, apologize for their negative experience and offer something in return to help make restitution. This solution is effective by reaching out with good customer service techniques and repairing your reputation. It can also serve as a valuable learning opportunity and highlight the areas that need improvement. But is there a better way?
The proactive scenario: Don’t give your boaters anything to complain about! Make sure that your marina is the best it can possibly be by upgrading and maintaining your space. It is important that all of your customer-facing amenities are available and up-to-date (like WiFi) or in premium condition (docks, bathrooms, cafes, etc…). Monitor your marina and perform quality tests to maintain high standards, giving yourself the ability to improve and update when necessary. Train your staff on best practice customer service methods and empower them to go above and beyond for your guests. In addition, you should make it easy for your boaters to give positive feedback. Encourage them to go online and share their experience, send out quarterly surveys, and provide space on your website for testimonials. If every boater has an amazing experience, there will be nothing but positivity shared online.
How to do both: In order to effectively manage feedback towards your marina, it is important to be both proactive and reactive. Ensure that your facility and customer service is at its maximum level, but also regularly examine your reviews online and respond to customers who had a less than ideal experience. In this way, all of your bases are covered.
Let’s review. (Get it?!)
Understand that online customer reviews have a huge impact on your marina. Positive reviews encourage boaters to visit and negative ones turn them away.
Update your facilities and amenities to reflect the high standards boaters have come to expect from their marina and teach your staff the importance of great customer service.
Actively check what your guests are saying online and respond to both positive and negative reviews with enthusiasm. The more genuine interest you show in your boaters’ experience, the more likely they are to share positive stories!