Most lodging operators agree that hotel reviews play an important part in turning lookers into bookers — and there’s plenty of research to support that. A recent TripAdvisor® study revealed that more than half of travelers don’t want to book a hotel until they have read reviews, and 80 percent of travelers read at least six to 12 reviews before making a decision.
An even more recent survey by market research company GfK for the UK government’s Competition & Markets Authority shows that 54 percent of adults used online reviews to get product or service information. If you take the less-digitally-engaged over-55 age group out of the equation, that number is 61 percent. The survey also showed that consumers are most influenced by reviews in the travel and hotels sector, when it comes to making a purchase.
It’s clear that online reviews are an important part of the decision-making process for travelers choosing accommodation and, therefore, lodging operators should be accumulating reviews and making them readily available to travelers online.
Because lodging operators are extremely busy people, we’ve put together a quick guide to the best practices for managing online reviews.
1. ASK guests for online reviews
Amassing reviews is not only great for boosting online visibility, but TripAdvisor says that the quantity and frequency of your TripAdvisor reviews influences your TripAdvisor Popularity Index ranking — in part because the more reviews your property has, the more the good reviews will outweigh the bad.
Whether your front desk staff invite guests to review your property upon check-out, or post-stay surveys are emailed to guests, every single guest should be asked to share feedback about their stay. Be genuine, not pushy, with a simple request like, “We hope you enjoyed your stay with us and welcome you to share your experience by completing this short survey / reviewing us on TripAdvisor. Your feedback is much appreciated!”
TripAdvisor’s Review Express — a free review collection tool for all types of properties — apparently boosts a hotel’s review volume on TripAdvisor by an average of 33 percent. Other automated solutions include guest relationship management systems like Cendyn and Revinate that integrate with property management systems to power targeted guest communications, including customized post-stay surveys that can be submitted directly to TripAdvisor. Revinate found that participating properties increased review volume by an average of 409% and saw an average 15% increase in TripAdvisor popularity ranking in just three months.
For more tips on getting online reviews, check out our post that focuses on just that.
2. MONITOR review sites
Monitoring online reviews and social media mentions is fundamental to managing your online reputation, giving you the chance to make good with dissatisfied customers and, therefore, improving your rating on review sites and OTAs.
You can check in with the most influential review sites and your social media accounts manually on a regular basis, but employing a social listening tool like Google Alerts or Hootsuite, or an online reputation management system like Revinate, will save you a lot of time and ensure you don’t miss a word of what people are saying about your property.
3. RESPOND appropriately
According to TripAdvisor, 87 percent of TripAdvisor users agree that an appropriate management response to a negative review improves their impression of the property, and 62 percent agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally “makes me more likely to book it (versus a comparable hotel that didn’t respond to travelers).”
The message is clear: properties that respond to reviews engage travelers more than properties that don’t. Management responses provide the opportunity to recover unhappy guests and your reputation as well as show travelers that you care about your guests.
The trick is responding to negative reviews in the right way; 70 percent of TripAdvisor users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review makes them less likely to book that hotel. Accept feedback graciously. For some guidance, check out our post on how to handle negative reviews. Most reviews contain a mix of positive and negative comments and Revinate’s Positive “Sandwich” Formula is a great method for responding to those.
4. ACT on feedback
A sure-fire way to increase positive reviews is to listen to your guests. What complaints keep coming up? Analyse constructive criticism and make improvements where warranted.
Making hoteliers’ lives easier, online reputation management software provides a complete view of guest feedback through reporting and data analysis of private surveys, online reviews and social media mentions to help identify consistent issues and improve service and operations.
In summary, hotels should enthusiastically encourage public, online reviews because most travelers won’t book a stay without reading them. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback going public; guests are just as inclined to write reviews about great experiences as they are about the not so great. Ultimately, your property’s reputation depends on how you deal with a negative comment, rather than the comment itself.
Once those reviews are coming in, you can help spread the word of your guests by including a TripAdvisor widget on your website, and by sharing positive reviews on social media. Be transparent and watch your occupancy soar!