Media Buzz

Read recent headlines and news for the Santa Ynez Valley, California.

The Mercury News – A Weekend Getaway to California’s Santa Ynez Valley, kids in tow

A kid-friendly getaway to Santa Barbara County’s wine country

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JetSetting fashionista – Horseback Riding at the Incredible Fess Parker Winery Ranch

Most Wine lovers know the brand Fess Parker Winery, however, did you know they also have a Fess Parker Ranch and Cattle Company, KAP Cattle.

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OC WEEKLY – A Trip Through the Santa Ynez Backroads 

Our goal was simple: Two days exploring cities around the Santa Barbara region without hitting up any wineries or standard tourist attractions.

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VIA – Sweet Stops: California’s Santa Ynez Valley

Along California’s Highway 154, detour in the Santa Ynez Valley for picnics, pinot, and people-watching.

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trekaroo – Buellton, California: More than a Pit Stop

Here’s everything we loved about visiting Buellton California with kids and why your family will love it too.

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MSN – 12 Best New Places to Vacation in 2018

With the new year upon us, here are some of the places around the globe being buzzed about within the travel industry and landing on 2018 travel bucket lists.

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Step-By-Step Guide: Responding To Negative Reviews In The Hospitality Industry

From: Danielle Laudon “Director of Marketing”

Yes, positive online reviews do matter to customers. This report from Vendasta shows that 92% of people read online reviews and 88% take them into account when making purchasing decisions. Eighty percent of people surveyed said they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Even so, it’s not the end of the world if you receive a negative review. In fact, if you respond in the right way, you show customers how much you care about their satisfaction.  If you respond correctly, you can resolve the situation and win customers over by showing them that you appreciate your customers’ feedback and opinions.  Learn more by joining this free summer webinar, presented by our web partner, Taylor Reaume, and prepared exclusively for our members!


Before you learn how to respond to negative reviews, you must spot them by monitoring your business’ online presence. Regularly review all social media platforms. Here are some key ways you can do this:

  1. Set up Google alerts about your business, so you’re notified when someone mentions your company online.
  2. Claim your business on big review sites. Claiming your business allows you to be in control of your online profile and you can respond to reviews you get.
  3. Set up Google My Business to respond to Google reviews. My Business will also help your company show up in Search Engine Results Pages.

There are numerous review sites focused towards the hospitality industry. Here is a short-list of the most popular sites. Remember to claim and monitor your business profile on these pages regularly. Always reply to reviews, whether they’re good or bad.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Google YouTube
Bing Instagram Yahoo
Dine Manta Yellow Pages
Expresit OpenTable Yelp
Facebook Pinterest Twitter
Foursquare PlanetRate Zagat
Gayot TripAdvisor Zomato (Urbanspoon)



Monitor Your Reviews - Learn How On This Webinar

So, What’s The Best Way To Respond To Negative Reviews?

  • Take a step back.  Don’t ever respond to a review in anger. You’ll most likely come across as defensive, unprofessional and petty. Step away, calm down and try to look at the review objectively.
  • Don’t ignore the review. An annual local customer review finds that 88% of people use reviews to make decisions. Taking the time to respond to negative reviews shows customers that you care and want to make things right. It shows that you are active in responding to your customers. Make sure that you respond to a review publicly, as well as privately, to let potential customers see that you’re attempting to fix the problem.
  • Understand the issue. Read through a negative review multiple times to make sure you understand the problem. Think about the day of the customer’s visit. Were there situations that could have caused an issue like staffing or supply problems. Review what went wrong.
  • Is the review genuine? Fake reviews happen to every company, even Amazon. Merchants were paying $5 for fake product reviews, Amazon sued. Did the review refer to days, times or items you don’t offer? Perhaps the review was meant for another business. If you think the review is not genuine, alert the review site. The site will have a process to deal with false information. If someone is making a serious accusation about your business, such as safety concerns or the spread of foodborne illnesses, consult a legal professional.
  • Always apologize. After reviewing the issue objectively, you might decide that the review is an overreaction. You may realize that it highlights a legitimate problem with your business. Start your response by apologizing for the fact that the customer has had a negative experience. People like what they say to matter. Acknowledge they are correct in being upset. Accepting doesn’t mean admitting you did something wrong. You could say something like: “I understand how upset you can be that your special occasion did not turn out as planned.”
  • Deal with legitimate problems. Poor customer service can cause a business to lose 10-25% of its total customer base. Thank the customer for bringing a situation to your attention. Let them know that you’re taking steps to fix the issue with a statement like: “Our normal supplier of lobsters had a delivery issue. We have since secured a backup supplier to avoid this happening again.”
  • Offer a resolution. Try to fix things with your customer. Invite them back to your business to give you a second chance. Only discuss a whole or partial refund in private. Ask the customer to contact you through your website. Use a statement like: “Please contact me through my website, so that I help resolve this problem.”
  • Follow-up privately. After you’ve responded publicly, you will follow up with the customer privately too. If the customer has a phone number or email listed with the review, use that method. Perhaps they shared their contact information when they visited your business. Review your records to see if this is the case. The review is important because the customer may not realize you’ve left them a reply on a review site.


Negative reviews are costly, both in lost sales and time spent to respond. Obviously, the best way to combat negative reviews is to provide a good service in the first place. Problems can happen at every stage of a customer’s interaction with your business, from making a reservation to parking.

Fully train your staff to provide the level of quality and customer service you expect. Train staff how to respond when they have a complaint from a visitor. Reinforce training on a regular basis. Complaints are an opportunity to share with staff and remind them of your policies.

Most review sites won’t allow you to delete negative reviews. Apart from fixing the problem, the best way to deal with a poor review is to dilute it with plenty of positive ones.

Don’t be afraid to ask loyal, satisfied customers to leave a review of your business. According to this 2016 survey by BrightLocal, 60%of all customers read online reviews about restaurants. Forty percent of all customers read hotel reviews online. Most customers will read 4-6 reviews on at least three different sites before they feel they can trust a business. Readers look at star rating, opinion, and the date of the review. The survey contains much more including:

  • Frequency of searching online for a business
  • Frequency of reading reviews before making decisions
  • Frequency of searching out business reviews before using them
  • Minimum rating acceptable
Give the customer a reason to leave a positive review with excellent service. Seventy-percent of customers will leave a review if asked. A business I recently visited offers a discount when you bring in a screenshot of your review on your next visit. Other business will publicize a Happy Customer – Happy Staff competition to solicit feedback and reviews. Staff receives a paid day off, and customers feel they are doing something nice.

Go ahead and share those great reviews on your website and social media pages. Don’t forget to thank your visitors online and in person for the feedback.


Taylor Reaume

Taylor Reaume is the Visit Santa Ynez Valley Webmaster and founder of Search Engine Pros, a multi-touch online marketing agency offering full-service web strategy, including search engine optimization, pay per click and social media consulting.  Taylor started designing websites in 1998. He has built over 600 sites and published 10,000+ pages of content on the web. As his web business grew, he started to offer SEO services. Taylor became a local authority on SEO because word got around that one of his sites was getting over 200,000 unique visitors per month. This traffic led to the sale of the site for six figures in 2007.  From 2011-2015 Taylor created and hosted the largest weekly SEO meetup group in Santa Barbara, the SEO WORKSHOP, an educational forum on web marketing. Taylor resides in sunny Santa Barbara, CA and spends most of his days solving the world’s web-related problems, dancing salsa and enjoying all that beautiful Santa Barbara has to offer.