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Can You Really Trust Online Reviews?

Any small business owner will tell you that reviews from clients are like gold! Wedding vendors in particular rely on testimonials, online reviews, referrals, and word of mouth to bring new clients to us so that we can provide the same excellent service and product for them as well. But can you really trust what you read online when you're researching your wedding vendors?

The short answer is, it depends! Below are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the world of online reviews and make sure the ones you're seeing are genuine, were actually earned by the vendor, and, most importantly, are trustworthy when selecting the businesses that will help bring your big day to life!

The first tip that applies to all of the online platforms where you may find reviews, whether it's Yelp, Google, Facebook, WeddingWire, TheKnot, etc., is to check the date of the reviews you're reading. Having older reviews is not an issue, if a vendor has been providing excellent service for years and years, that's wonderful! If you start to look through reviews, however, and see that the majority of the positive reviews

were from a specific date or week and not spread out over a long period of time, that usually means those reviews were not provided organically, but were instead made as part of a contest or promotion the business initiated. Businesses offering incentives like discounts, free items, or entries into a contest for providing reviews is highly discouraged by the companies who own the online review platforms because it means that the reviews are disingenuous. If you think you might have a chance to win something for free by leaving a positive review, are you going to provide a true account of your experience with a business, or are you going to say something nice so that you can get your prize? Make sure when you're looking at reviews that you take a second to check if most of them happened within the span of a few days; this is a red flag that this business might be incentivizing leaving a review in some way that is encouraging folks to embellish their experience, not necessarily earning the praise based on excellent service.

Our second tip is to be sure to check whatever online review platform you're using to look for any reviews that have been hidden. Certain companies have an algorithm that places reviews on a hidden or "not recommended" area that is still accessible but doesn't appear on the business' regular review page. These reviews are not necessarily any less valuable, they have just been flagged by the algorithm for one reason or another. Be sure you check these reviews along with the reviews featured on the page, something in one of them might prove to be useful to you as you try to decide which vendors to select for your wedding.

A third tip is to take note of how a business responds to any negative reviews they've received. Are the concerns addressed? Is the business owner professional in their response or combative? Unfortunately, it is impossible for any business to please 100% of their customers 100% of the time, but how an owner responds to or handles any mistakes or concerns can often show you more about the business than a glowing review. Take the time to read negative reviews and see how, or if, the situation was resolved.

Our final tip is that, if you ever have any questions about your vendors and feel like online reviews or their testimonials page isn't providing enough information, ask them for a reference. Wedding vendors should be able to provide an e-mail address for at least a few clients who will be willing to talk with you about their experience. Sometimes just having a quick e-mail exchange with a real client, who had a real wedding with the vendor you're considering can make all the difference in feeling confident with your choice.

We hope this has been helpful as you navigate the world of online reviews when it comes to planning your wedding!

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