There’s no denying it – reviews can make or break an online business. As we offer a platform where customers can not only book fishing trips, but also review them, we see this first hand.
Seeing reliable, unbiased reviews from other fishermen is one of the main reasons why people choose to book their trips online. Getting other people’s opinion is a big part of the decision-making process and an important way to build your fishing charter’s online brand.
When we analyzed FishingBooker’s low-scoring listings and asked for customer feedback, we uncovered eight common pitfalls that turned customers off a charter. Here’s what we found:
1: Outdated calendars turn customers off for good
The number one reason why people have a bad experience is when they find out that the date they chose isn’t available – even though it’s free in the calendar. When this happens, customers are very unlikely to book with that same captain again.
While this usually doesn’t result in a bad review, it leads to something even worse – that you don’t get to fish with the customer to start with. So keeping calendars up to date is key for building a returning customer base.
2: Major changes to the trip are one of the most serious concerns for customers
When we looked at the listings with the lowest review scores, one thing led to disappointment across the board. That was providing customers with something different to what they booked.
This can be something as serious as fishing with a different captain. Or, it can be something that you’d expect would be a positive surprise, such as getting a boat upgrade.
In fact, customers pay a lot of attention to the boat and captain when booking their trip. And when they see something they weren’t expecting, they’re set up to distrust the service. So if anything changes with your offer, it’s key to get in touch with the customer, and with us, before the trip takes place.
3: Exaggerations can mean bad reviews and fewer customers in the long run
What you see is what you get. Or is it? People notice whether what they get is the same as what was advertised. That goes for quality of equipment and fishing techniques on offer, too.
If people have a different experience from what they were expecting, they will often and mention it in their review. Check your listing’s description, trips, and photos to make sure what you’re advertising online matches your current setup.
4: Additional charges should be clear from the start
Complaints about additional charges are relatively uncommon, but when they happen they can have a big impact. This can be anything from customers not realizing that fuel, fishing licenses, or bait cost extra, to captains not being fully aware of what the customer already paid.
Be sure to check that your trip descriptions explain clearly what additional charges customers should prepare for. It’s also a good idea to message your customer before the trip and make sure they’re ready to cover the necessary costs.
5: Captains who get in touch before the trip get better recommendations
Some customer complaints are really easy to avoid. None more so than this one – they didn’t know what to bring.
This is something you prepare for really easily by setting up a Saved Response and sharing this with your customers when they book with you. Just save a simple message that covers how to find you and how to prepare, and you can send it to every customer, whenever they book.
This way, you and your customers are set for a good experience before you even start.
6: The condition of the boat impacts the overall score
There’s a reason why listings with at least one photo of the boat tend to get booked more than those without one. Customers often choose one listing over another specifically because of the boat, and whether it includes features such as a toilet or air conditioning. So, they almost always react badly if these are broken or inaccessible.
When the boat is old and worn out, in poor condition, or unsafe or too small for the party, customers will very often mention this in the review. You can avoid this by clearly showing the current state of your boat on listing pictures.
When customers know what the boat really looks like, there are no surprises.
7: Customers are less concerned about “not enough fish” if they have the right expectations
We’re all aware of the age old complaint: ”the fish weren’t biting.” You know better than we do that there’s not a whole lot you can do about this. In fact, you do everything you can to make the most of a bad fishing situation on a regular basis!
When we dug deeper into reviews that mentioned poor fishing conditions, we learned that they very often came from customers not catching the species they were hoping for, or not doing the technique they requested. Luckily, you can do something about this:
- Firstly, make sure the fish and techniques mentioned on your listing and trip descriptions match what customers can expect from a regular fishing trip with you.
- Then, message your customers before the trip to learn what they’re expecting, and then set the expectations clearly. Be honest and explain why you sometimes may not be able to do the technique they were hoping for. As long as you show understanding and respond to them clearly, they’re likely to start the trip in the right mindset.
8. Good old customer service is going nowhere
Regardless of everything above, the most common reason why customers choose not to recommend their captain is because of the service they received.
The most main things people brought up are:
- Crew members being uninterested and unprofessional
- Lack of patience towards customers
- Language barriers
- Captains being late for the trip
- Unclear policies about who keeps the catch at the end of the trip
There are some things no one can control. Whether or not the fish are biting is one of them. So keeping tabs on what you can influence is your best way to build your business and collect recommendations.
To find out more, check out the full breakdown of the causes of the bad reviews we analyzed:
Remember: you shouldn’t worry about a couple of bad reviews. In fact, they can even balance and improve your reputation, as long as you reply to them well. But follow these tips and you’ll increase your chance of getting happy customers who’ll recommend you to their friends and family, and the wider online fishing community.
What else do you recommend for increasing review scores? Share your thoughts in the comments below!