Before you had a cell phone, how did you find new restaurants? Did you rely on the token foodie in your friend group? Read newspaper reviews? Search through guides?
Compare that to how you do it now; chances are, you just type “diners near me” in your phone, and a list of local options comes up. You look over the reviews and make a decision based on the highest-rated restaurant.
That’s good news for consumers, because finding great local businesses is easier than ever before. But the importance of online reviews is often a big issue for local businesses, who have to work hard to maintain their online reputation. Just one bad review can hurt a business for years to come, and bad reviews tend to snowball.
So what can you do to make sure your course doesn’t suffer?
1. Take Control of Your Online Presence
Consumers use the online profile of a business to make a decision about where to spend their money, but many businesses don’t take control of that profile.
The most important thing you can do for your online presence is to claim to claim your course in Google My Business. It’s a fairly simple process, and it makes your course that much more relevant in local search.
To sign up, all you have to do is go to the Google My Business homepage and put in the information about your business. Once you do that and confirm the code that Google mails to you, your course will show up like this on Google:
2. Manage Your Reviews
You can’t stop someone from posting a bad review about your course, but you can perform damage control and create a trustworthy brand just by responding to reviews, good or bad.
On good reviews, you can thank the customer for coming and invite them back for another round. This shows customers that you are aware of them, and establishes a warm tone for your brand.
On bad reviews, you can publicly respond to their complaint and apologize for whatever made them so upset. You can also invite them to contact you to try and make things right. Even if they don’t try and contact you, this shows other potential customers that you are committed to making things right, even if you make mistakes every once in a while.
Whether good or bad, it's important to stay on top of responding to your online reviews.
3. Use Technology
As important as good online reviews are, it's difficult to get your customers to post them. What’s even more challenging is that customers who had a bad experience are more willing to post than customers who had a good one, skewing reviews toward the negative.
An easy way to make sure you get the reviews you need is to use a reputation management software. We recommend Swell, which is the only software in the field that is adapted to work with golf courses.
Swell allows you to monitor, gather, and respond to your online reviews from a single platform. It allows you to send out automated text messages to your players after a round asking them to leave a review and respond to reviews from multiple sources on one screen.
Whatever software you use, it's important that it allows you at a minimum to respond to reviews across all channels and send out automatic surveys to your customers.
Capitalize on the Power of Positive Experiences
We mentioned at the beginning of this piece that 88% of people trust the opinion of online reviews as much as a family member, but we didn’t mention that almost the same amount acts on that recommendation.
Taking control of your online reviews will allow you to unleash the power of those good experiences your customers are having and open up a new channel of acquiring customers.