In my research lately I have noticed a lot of studies regarding online reviews of hotels. One of the most alarming findings comes from reputation management firm TrustYou. A recent study from TrustYou examined online hotel reviews. They found that only 32% of hotels respond to online reviews on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Expedia. A startling 68% take the brunt of criticism or accolades and stay silent. In today’s digital world it is increasingly more and more important that hotels step up to the plate and take the time to respond to feedback their guests are leaving. And here’s why:
- Higher revenue: Also according to TrustYou, hotels that respond to online guest reviews on average receive 6% higher review scores than hotels that don’t. Hotels with higher ratings are more visible on review sites and are looked upon more favorably by travelers, which of course leads to more bookings.
- Further insight: There are two sides to every story, right? When your hotel responds to a negative review, perhaps about the quality of a room or the customer service of an employee, you are taking an opportunity to explain the situation. Perhaps there was some factor that the reviewer wasn’t aware of. Or perhaps the reviewer overlooked information that was available on your website. In any case, by providing your side of the story, you can paint a more complete picture of your hotel on the review site.
- Positive sentiment: As long as you respond politely, professionally and in a timely manner, it will only reflect positively on your property. Future guests will see that you care about your hotel’s online presence, building trust that you will take care of their vacation needs even before they arrive! A study from Forrester and TripAdvisor found that 71% of travelers believe that management responses are important. Further, 68% say that they would choose a hotel with management responses over a competitor without.
- More reviews: Reviews help hotels gain online visibility through improved SEO and more traffic to their website. So every hotel wants more reviews, right? One of the best ways to get reviews is to respond to the ones you already have, especially those that are positive. Your response is acknowledgement of their opinions, which is why reviews are written in the first place. Also according to TrustYou, hotels can increase their reviews by 147% just by responding. With more reviews, a single negative review carries less weight
Many hoteliers feel that they do not have time to adequately respond to reviews, feel awkward or simply do not know how to respond. Back in February I wrote a blog post on how to respond to a negative hotel review that should help address some of these concerns.
A word about fake reviews: Many hotels have recently been caught posting fake reviews. There have been articles in Slate, Time and the Wall Street Journal raising awareness in the public of the prevalence of buying reviews. TripAdvisor and Yelp both strongly oppose the practice and are taking steps to control the problem. Buying reviews is an easy solution that does little to improve the entire system for anyone since travelers are becoming more diligent in spotting the fakes.