Verifying the authenticity of online yacht charter reviews isn’t that hard. Even in anonymous forum posts the publicly available electronic signature contains the where and when about the reviewer, and even more helpful is their content, context and writing style. Ten minutes of manual work will provide a good indication of authenticity. If more proof is needed, scientists are working on an algorithm to automatically detect false reviews which should be widely available soon with the ability to scan the entire web. Here’s a good example of a Charter Pro getting caught with their hand in the online review cookie jar.
Crewed Sailing Vessel (CSV) Koralia 3 (Chandler Yacht Charters, Jeanneau 53, Greece) reviewed on TripAdvisor.com. This is a painful read, four pages of forum posts (many have been removed by site administrators) that eventually confirm that Armchairsailor267 (aka. armchairsailorUk and BlackKevlar) is a representative of Chandler Yacht Charters pretending to be a past client writing a positive charter review.
The (well meaning?) Charter Pro has seriously damaged the online reputation of Chandler Yacht Charters. Reviewer “944MGM944″ also submitted a YCA Charter Scouting Report of their experience with Chandler which prompted a written demand by Chandler for YCA to remove the negative review or face legal action (YCA and the legitimate review are protected by law). I reached out to the Chandler head office in the UK and offered YCA’s Online Reputation Management services, there was no further contact. It appears now that Chandler has decided to rename their (online) charter service to Exclusive Yacht Charters Greece and on another site Compass Yacht Charters Greece. There’s no mention now of Chandler or Koralia 3 on either site – what a mess.
Here’s one more false review posted by a Charter Pro in response to a negative review.
[March 18, 2012 - this section removed based on new information. Thanks for the feedback Phil.]
WHAT’S A CHARTER PROFESSIONAL TO DO WHEN A NEGATIVE REVIEW HAS BEEN POSTED?
First of all, seek professional help when managing your online charter reputation. At YCA we’re (most definitely) not Charter Pros, we’re Charter Sailors passionate about helping our fellow sailors find good charter value. This responsibility extends to helping Charter Pros manage their online reputation using our CharterPro++ reputation management services. YCA is a truly unbiased yacht charter review site dedicated to improving the reputation of the yacht charter industry through transparency of charter service quality and charter yacht condition.
Charter Pros – would you hand the wheel of a crewed charter to a 5 year old under sail with guests aboard and walk away saying “hold’er steady, I’ll be right back.” This is analogous to false reviews written by Charter Pros. Your ‘online’ reputation has become critical to attracting new business. But still, if you’re a Charter Pro Do-It-Yourself die-hard here’s a few tips on managing your online reputation and responding to a negative review.
- Closely monitor and manage your online reputation. Research tells us that 80% of all reviews are positive and 20% are either neutral or negative, the absence of neutral or negative reviews negates the credibility of positive reviews. Windsong Charters does a great job of managing their online reputation, they have ~5,000 friends on Facebook. Cap’n Bob is a genuine fellow that gives prospective charter clients comfort and confidence. After researching Windsong Charters I’m convinced my charter $$ will be well spent and I’ll likely have a friend for life in the Caribbean – Bravo Zulu .
- Be pro-active, prevent or limit the intensity of negative reviews before they happen. Simple stuff here but in my experience often missed by Charter Companies. Set proper expectations before the charter, routinely check that your guests are getting what they asked for, be sure you know your client’s post charter perceptions, and point them to an unbiased 3rd party charter review site like Yacht Charter Advisor (YCA) to leave a review.
- Respond to the negative review. If the review is false, simply say so – “This review is false, the charter referred to did not happen”, sign the response and let it go. If the review is real, be calm and take an understanding tone in your response. Be diplomatic, don’t criticize the reviewer or invite further discussion, don’t let the conversation play out online. Be careful with apologies, in many countries this can be considered an admission of culpability. If you must apologize, stay away from charter commitments – “I’m sorry you feel this way…” or “I apologize for any misunderstanding…”.
- Refer the reviewer to your grievance protocol (hopefully in the charter contract). The YCA staff has years of experience in corporate mediation services and through CharterPro++ can help negotiate a balanced outcome, leave your online reputation intact and your client feeling fulfilled – it’s win-win!