How to Get More Positive Reviews and Boost Referrals

It’s no secret that reviews are important for tours and activities.

Websites like TripAdvisor facilitate user-generated content at scale and have become key players in the industry.

In many cases, people turn to these websites for ideas and recommendations about where to go and what to do – and they often trust them more than they trust you.

Assuming people find about you in another way, it’s highly likely that they will check your reviews online, especially if you offer a high-ticket product.

But even if they don’t, you can use your positive reviews to increase the likelihood of people finalizing a purchase.

This is why it’s crucial to maintain high reviews and a consistent flow of them, as we’ll see later.

Whether it’s on your website, TripAdvisor, or Facebook page, there are certain steps you can take to increase the likelihood that people recommend the experience.

In this article, we’ll look at the key principles for improving customer satisfaction and getting high reviews on the web.

Ready? Let’s go.

The rise of user-generated content

Most reviews fall under the category of user-generated content (UGC).

So before we dive in further, let’s take a quick look at what user-generated content is and why it’s important.

UGC grew exponentially along with the World Wide Web. As traditional media like newspapers and the radio had editorial control over what gets published, the internet allowed for a significant democratization of content production.

So during the 90s and 2000s, sites like TripAdvisor facilitated the creation of UGC and even built successful businesses around it.

But of course, UGC has a much broader application outside the travel and leisure industry. Every piece of information that’s created by end-users online, including reviews, social media posts, text, images, video, and audio, can be classified as UGC.

So now, many industries are heavily influenced by online reviews. Hotels, restaurants, tours, and activities are some of the more prominent ones.

The end result? In 2006, TIME Magazine named “You” as Person of the Year, reflecting the importance of UGC.

In many cases, it can make the difference between a thriving and a failing business.

How positive reviews can help you

So with that in mind, how can you benefit from positive online reviews?

First, it’s a good way to win more customers. Reviews decrease the uncertainty in making a buying decision by describing the experience before any cash is spent. And an unbiased view of your tour or activity holds more value in the eyes of potential customers than offer descriptions on your website or TripAdvisor page.

But more referrals and customers is not the only benefit you get from online reviews.

The feedback you get from reviews can be crucial for improving your business. By knowing your strong points, you’ll know which aspects to emphasize on.

On the other hand, negative reviews can point out your weaknesses so you can work on them.

Because of that, generating a consistent flow of online reviews is one of the most important aspects of growing a leisure company.

How do you get more reviews? Become a business people love.

There are many tactics and strategies to get more positive reviews.

While these can be useful, the best way to implement them is from a solid foundation.

And what is that solid foundation?

The sincere desire to create happy customers.

happy customers

Source: Chris Brophy

You see, if you do a good job at creating happy customers, you will be rewarded with positive reviews. So naturally, your main focus should be on providing a great experience.

However, as we all know, people are more likely to leave a bad review following a bad experience than they are to leave a good review after a good experience.

This is why you’ll have to make it easy and beneficial for people to leave a review. That’s when the tactics and strategies come into play.

You don’t have to ask people for a positive review per se, but at least make it crystal clear how to leave a review and why they should do it.

This is important because you need both high reviews and a good amount of reviews to be successful.

So how do you get a consistent flow of positive reviews? Start with the basics of customer satisfaction.

Add a human touch

No one likes being treated like a cog in the wheel.

This goes double in the tour and activity industry where customer service is the backbone of the business.

But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the busy day-to-day, ignoring possibilities to connect and relate with customers.

So whether you share a personal story or offer some homemade cupcakes at lunchtime, try to spot and capture opportunities to build a genuine human connection with your customers.

Keep your promises

People will arrive with a set of expectations for your tour or activity. And these expectations will likely be based on reviews and your offer descriptions.

So while you haven’t “promised” anything in the literal sense, people will hold you accountable if you don’t live up to their standards.

This is why it’s important to consistently deliver an exceptional experience.

It sounds simple but delivering a uniform service every time is hard work.

This starts with your processes and staff training but then extends to things like your value proposition, marketing materials, and pricing.

The magic word


Source: James Clear

Show your customers appreciation by thanking them in creative ways. For example, send discount vouchers with a percentage off on their next booking. You can also try thanking customers by building a customer loyalty program.

Really read your reviews

Maybe you read every single review already. But are you taking action on the feedback that you’re getting? Speak with customers, read competitor reviews, and gain a deeper understanding of what people want. Then, you just need to deliver that to them.

Birthdays and special occasions

Honor special occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries, or their membership with you if you offer this. You can use email, SMS, or even a handwritten letter. It’s an easy way to make your customers feel special with very little effort.

Provide customer service everywhere

Monitor social media channels closely and reply to messages in good time. You can also set up a Q&A section on your website, along with a live chat option to connect instantly. Here’s a list of useful customer support tools, such as live chat tools, conversation managers, and much more.

Educate customers

If you’re a tour operator, be sure to include in-depth information not just on your tour, but also the location in general (e.g. good bars and restaurants around town).

Measure satisfaction

Apart from the reviews, there are other useful ways to receive feedback from your customers. One of the most popular is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which asks people how likely they are to recommend your tour or activity to a friend. If that’s not your thing, read this article on 6 ways to track customer satisfaction.

A word about TripAdvisor

While reviews are important everywhere, TripAdvisor deserves special attention because of its influence on the market.

TripAdvisor is fairly open about their ranking criteria and we know that to rank well, you need 3 things:

  • Quantity – it’s important to have many reviews in order to get statistical significance about the quality of your service.
  • Recency – you need a consistent flow of reviews. Not receiving a review for a long time signals to TripAdvisor that you are inactive and they could move you down the rankings.
  • Quality – the third necessary element to rank high on TripAdvisor is the actual star rating people give you.

So all other things being equal, if you have higher overall reviews, you will win out. But if a competitor has a lower rating and substantially more reviews, they can outrank you.

Dealing with negative reviews

There were many tips above for doing well but the reality is that you can’t fully avoid negative reviews. They will show up every once in a while.

The important thing is to do everything in your power to respond and turn them around.

When you receive a bad review, avoid getting into arguments. Always acknowledge the customers’ viewpoint and be thankful for their opinion. At the very least, it’s a learning opportunity for you to improve your service or know what type of customers are not a good fit for your business.

Make sure to thank them and to offer an apology. If you can compensate with more than just words, do it.

Even one negative review can damage your online reputation so you should do everything within reason to turn them around. Most review platforms offer the ability to edit reviews so it’s never late to make things right.


So we know that customer reviews are super important for building a great business. Not just for tours and activities but almost everywhere.

If you want to be successful in managing your online reputation, the most important thing to do is to be the kind of business that people want to leave a positive review for.

Go out of your way to help, keep your promises, and constantly improve. These are the principles of building your business and online reputation.

In addition, make sure to encourage people to leave reviews. You need a consistent inflow of reviews, not just high reviews.

Of course, you’ll still get the odd negative review – make sure these are treated and addressed with high priority. Do everything you can in your power to turn it around and always try to see things from a customer viewpoint.

If you follow these steps, you’re bound to skyrocket and maintain your online reputation, eventually winning customers on auto-pilot.

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