Should You Incentivise Online Reviews? Weighing the Pros and Cons

Online reviews hold significant influence over businesses across various industries, including (and especially) adventure tourism. Positive reviews can greatly impact potential customers’ decision-making process, while negative reviews can deter them from choosing your services.

As an adventure tourism provider, you may be contemplating whether incentivising online reviews is a viable strategy to enhance your reputation. This is usually in the form of a monthly draw, where each reviewer has their name dropped in a hat to win a free tour, a discount code, or a piece of merchandise. It’s easy to set up – especially if you have an automated email gathering online reviews, courtesy of your digital waiver system! All you need to do is figure out your prize and tell your customers how to enter.

Just remember that there is a line between incentivising reviews and flat-out bribery. If you’re only offering prizes for reviews of 5 stars, the review platform is going to get suspicious and probably kick you out. So, keep it fair and make sure you don’t get yourself exiled from one of the internet’s main adventure tourism platforms!

There are a few points to consider before incentivising reviews, both for and against. In this article, we will explore those together and help you to make an informed decision.

Incentivising Reviews – The Pros

1) Increased Review Volume

By offering incentives for online reviews, you can encourage a higher number of customers to share their experiences. Incentives such as discounts, freebies, or entry into a giveaway can motivate customers to take the time to leave feedback which can help you accumulate a greater quantity of reviews, subsequently increasing your visibility and credibility in the eyes of potential customers (also known as “social Proof).

In fact, studies show that the majority of people see the volume of reviews as more important than the overall rating; and that reviews older than 1 year are too old to be relevant any more. This all means that you should be encouraging as many reviews as possible, year round!

2) Positive Review Generation

Of course, the perfect combo is a high volume of reviews with perfect marks – and incentives can tilt the balance in favour of positive reviews. When customers have a positive experience with your adventure tourism services, they are more likely to leave a review if there is an added incentive. This can help generate a larger number of positive reviews, showcasing the strengths of your business and attracting more potential customers.

3) Customer Engagement and Loyalty

Incentivising online reviews can foster a sense of engagement and loyalty among your customers. By rewarding them for their feedback, you demonstrate that you value their opinions and experiences and they feel like they’ve participated in your brand journey on an even deeper level. This can strengthen the connection between your business and customers, which encourages repeat visits and generates positive word-of-mouth referrals.

4) Valuable Insights for Improvement

Online reviews aren’t always going to glow, but those reviews will provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your adventure tourism offerings. By incentivising customers to leave reviews and seeing a higher quantity of feedback as a result, you’re gathering a broader range of opinions to consider. This feedback can help you identify areas for improvement, address concerns, and enhance the overall guest experience.

Incentivising Reviews – The Cons

1) Bias and Lack of Authenticity

One of the main concerns with incentivised reviews is the potential for bias. Some customers may be inclined to leave positive reviews solely to receive the offered incentive, irrespective of their genuine experience. This can lead to a lack of authenticity and undermine the credibility of your online reviews. Prospective customers may question the sincerity of incentivised reviews, ultimately eroding their trust in your business.

2) Quality Control Challenges

When incentivising online reviews, it can be challenging to ensure the quality and relevance of the feedback received. Customers may focus more on the incentive rather than on providing detailed and helpful reviews. This can result in shallow or superficial feedback that does not provide substantial value to your business or potential customers.

3) Regulatory Considerations

In some jurisdictions, incentivising online reviews may raise legal and regulatory concerns. Certain platforms and review websites have specific policies regarding the use of incentives.

It is crucial to review the terms and guidelines of each platform to ensure compliance. Failure to do so may result in penalties or the removal of reviews, negatively impacting your online reputation.

4) Ethical Considerations

There is an ongoing debate surrounding the ethics of incentivising online reviews. Some critics argue that it can create bias and compromise the integrity of the reviewing process. Additionally, incentivising reviews may raise questions about fairness and equal treatment of all customers. It is important to consider the ethical implications and maintain total transparency in your approach to incentivising reviews.

Deciding whether to incentivise online reviews for your adventure tourism business requires careful consideration of the pros and cons. While incentivising reviews can increase review volume, generate positive feedback, and enhance customer engagement, it also carries risks such as bias, lack of authenticity, quality control challenges, and regulatory and ethical concerns. 

Ultimately, it is essential to strike a balance between encouraging genuine feedback and maintaining the integrity and trustworthiness of your online reputation. Consider your specific circumstances, industry best practices, and legal requirements before implementing an incentivised review strategy. Once you have your strategy in place, just contact Wherewolf Support and let them know to help you keep your free review-generating email up to date. Our team will make the updates and changes you need to boost your digital profile.

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