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Many hoteliers have been the victim of a negative online review – it simply comes with the territory in today’s socially connected online universe.

It is possible to turn these negatives reviews around by responding in an effective manner.  By showcasing a deep commitment to customer service, hoteliers can actually use this an opportunity to enhance guest engagement online and even drive more loyalty.

Though one thing is for sure: never let a bad review languish in cyberspace.

The reality is that there are many avenues for guests to share their negative experiences online – whether through online travel sites or Twitter and Facebook.  In many ways, it seems that the cards are stacked up against a brand in this online world.  So, how can you counter a torrent of bad reviews?

Thankfully, there are a number of tools that we will be highlighting in the coming weeks, which allow hotels – whether a larger brand, a single hotel or a larger hospitality portfolio – to gain control in this new frontier where bad reviews can take off like wildfire.

From a high-level perspective, the key is to engage the disgruntled guest into an actual conversation.  Listen to their issues and offer proactive solutions to these problems, whether it is providing a gift certificate or discounts for services.  In addition, don’t be afraid to apologize.  The strongest brands will admit to their mistakes and course correct immediately.

In addition, it is ideal to take the conversation into a more private setting – whether it is a private online chat or a phone discussion.  Once you have reached a point where the guest is happy again, then it is safe to request that they amend or delete the negative review.

The NY Times recently ran a story about a hotel executive posting anonymous online reviews that were positive about the brand.  Of course, the outcome of this effort was resulted in a negative story in a national media outlet and reinforced the need to handle negative comments in a more effective manner.

Stay tuned for more insights into the actual tools that hoteliers can use for better managing negative online reviews.