It seems like we are bombarded with reviews today; reviews of restaurants, airlines, and of course hotels. But exactly how much influence do online reviews have on a guests’ booking behavior? According to Siteminder guest reviews have a staggering influence on bookings: 88% of travelers searching for a hotel filter those that have an “average” rating, 32% of all guests immediately disqualify properties with a score of less than four stars, 79% of guests read between six and twelve reviews before deciding on a property, and 96% of all guests consider reviews as an important part of the hotel booking process. Obviously, reviews are important. In fact, guest reviews are probably the most significant part of the booking decision, bested only by location and price. Your online reputation matters!
Why hoteliers should be paying attention to their reviews:
We all know that rave reviews ensure your property is flourishing and making money. But the power of the positive review goes deeper than that. First, a positive review means that your guest is happy, and promoting your property. It means that the experience they had while traveling provided them with a unique experience; and your property was part of that unique experience. Second, a positive review lets other hoteliers know that your property has the “thing” guests are looking for.
Who are your reviewers?
When thinking about your property’s reviews (or lack thereof), let’s break it down: There are two types of guests; those who leave reviews, and those who don’t. While both groups are equally important, the guests that don’t leave reviews could be your biggest concern. Some hoteliers believe that the guests who aren’t providing feedback are satisfied with every aspect of their stay; but that’s not always the case. Sometimes guests leave a property angry that their complaints weren’t heard while they were there, other guests may not be confrontational or practice “if I can’t say anything nice, I won’t say anything at all” mentality. Your ability to reach the guests who don’t leave reviews is where you have a potential gold mine of information.
How you can increase your reviews:
Not all guests leave reviews, so whether you are not getting enough reviews or are the number 1 reviewed hotel in your market, there is always room for more reviews. Here are some great tips for increasing your review count:
This could almost go without saying but you must first provide great service. The better your service level is the more likely your guests will be inclined to publish a review of your property.
Add calls to action – if your guests can rate your property on your website, that’s great! It allows potential travelers to see how your former guests perceive your property during the booking process.
Ask your guests for feedback – This can be a scary tactic, but you’ll never improve your guests’ satisfaction until you know what they liked or disliked.
You should be responding to all reviews. Even for the best hotels, the occasional negative review is inevitable. Most people researching your hotel will not necessarily be put off by one or two negative reviews, as long as you respond appropriately. Be friendly, avoid seeming confrontational, acknowledge any constructive feedback and if you disagree with aspects of the review, address them calmly, without dismissing the issues raised outright. In some cases, hotels spend too much time responding to criticism and not enough time acknowledging the people who have made the effort to leave positive feedback. Where possible, try to respond to as much positive feedback as you can as well. People who see that you take the time to do this may be more likely to leave positive comments themselves, because they know their opinions will be valued and appreciated.
Use customer relationship software – Programs like Cendyn’s Guestfolio allow you to create post-stay surveys for your guests. These surveys are mobile responsive for travelers on-the-go and provide a quick one-button upload to TripAdvisor (no sign-in, or account creation needed).
Numbers really do matter:
We’ve discussed why reviews are important, but now let’s look at why the number of reviews you receive is equally important. First, higher volumes of guest ratings improve your competitive position and encourage guests to spend their earned vacation time with you. Second, what guest has faith in a property that only has two or three reviews? Guests need to understand what you’re offering so that they can make an informed decision. Finally, when you encourage guests to invest time documenting their travel experiences, you get free word-of-mouth advertising. Guest to guest advertising has a much broader reach than traditional advertising, and it allows your guests to describe their experiences in their own words.
Online reviews are changing the way travelers book hotels. With more than two thirds of all online guests reading about your property on review sites prior to booking, it’s obvious that hoteliers must implement an Online Reputation Management Policy to help improve guest satisfaction and ultimately property revenue. This should be done with a combination of informed manpower and a software solution like ReviewPro or sproutsocial. Good reputation management solutions area a must to manage your online reputation. These solutions collect online reviews from all the major review sites, allowing you to listen and act on guest feedback rapidly and efficiently in aggregate. In addition, the solution enables hoteliers to easily identify operational and service concerns, so they can quickly be addressed.
When you successfully take control of your online reputation, your property will reap the rewards. From increased rankings on Google and review sites to improved operations, your guests will feel the impact too. Stay ahead of the competition and turn your guests into online advocates for your hotel.