5 years ago
 

To increase scores and bookings, hotels must respond to guest reviews

NB: This is a guest article by Margaret Ady, director of marketing at TrustYou.

Responding to online reviews from guests is crucial. It makes them feel heard, and it is one of the best ways to improve customer satisfaction and guest loyalty post-stay.

Seeing management responses also improves perceptions of a hotel and impacts purchasing decisions of future guests.

Yet most hotels still don’t make it a priority. Perhaps online reviews seem less important, or the reasons to respond seem abstract and immeasurable. Regardless, only 32% of hotels worldwide have responded to a review so far in 2012. Only 32%!

The other 68% are leaving money on the table (or in the pockets of responsive competitors).

The minority of hotels that do respond to their online reviews are reaping in the benefits. Hotels that respond to online guest reviews – regardless of if the reviews are positive or negative – average 6% higher review scores than hotels that don’t (study).

Better reviews equate to revenue

6% is significant. It directly impacts a hotel’s revenues. Higher-rated hotels enjoy more visibility on review sites and are more appealing to travelers, which ultimately leads to more bookings.

Why the higher scores?

1. Happier guests, even before setting foot in the hotel

As travelers perform their pre-purchase research, they enjoy seeing hotels whose management responds to its guests. A study from Forrester and TripAdvisor reveals that 71% of travelers think that management responses are important.

In fact, seeing management responses is so important that it also has the ability to sway travelers’ booking decisions: 68% say they would choose a hotel with management responses over a comparable hotel without them.

Management responses give travelers confidence that they are booking at a hotel that will take care of their needs. Even seeing responses to negative reviews written about a hotel makes 79% of travelers feel reassured.

Guests who arrive at a hotel feeling confident in their booking decision and assured that the hotel will take care of their needs start at a higher satisfaction level.

Think of management responses as the precursor to the crucial first 15 minutes of a guests’ stay. The hotel has already begun to win the guest over, long before their arrival.

2. Responses = More reviews

Hotels that respond to guests indirectly encourage other guests to write reviews following their stays. Seeing a management response is positive reinforcement that guests’ opinions are being heard, which is the reason that travelers write reviews to begin with.

As a result, hotels that respond to guests rack up an average of 147% more reviews.

More reviews help hotels in many ways –rankings and visibility improve on review sites and the hotel’s site benefits from improved SEO and more traffic.

More reviews also improve scores because with each additional review, one negative score carries less and less weight. With an average of 147% more reviews, responsive hotels are bound to notice a bump in scores.

Responding seems rather important now, doesn’t it? Many hoteliers choose not to respond because writing a response feels awkward, or hoteliers aren’t sure what to write. Here are some tips to get started.

Guide to crafting a response

1. Remain kind, professional and genuine. If responding to a negative review, do NOT get defensive.

2. Respond in a timely fashion. Responding months later is almost as bad as not responding at all. Using reputation management software can help streamline the process.

3. Key ingredients to a response to a negative review:

  • Thank the guest for their stay
  • Apologize for their problem or complaint
  • Address the specific problem mentioned and offer a solution/explain how the hotel is taking action
  • Invite the guest back to the hotel

4. Key ingredients to a response to a positive review:

  • Thank the guest for their stay
  • Let the guest know that the hotel is delighted to hear about the positive experience
  • Ensure that the hotel strives for this sort of excellence with all its guests
  • Invite the guest back to the hotel

The key point is to start responding. Let guests know that their opinions are important and give future guests a reason to choose you over your competitor.

Or don’t, and watch travelers book elsewhere.

NB: This is a guest article by Margaret Ady, director of marketing at TrustYou.

NB2: Hotel reception image via Shutterstock.

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.

 

Comments

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  1. Adele Gutman

    We respond publicly to negative comments and privately to positive ones and you can;t argue with the results; all four of our hotels are ranked among the top six hotels in NYC on TripAdvisor. However, it is not the written response or PR that is the most meaningful in getting higher volumes of great reviews. It is is the work you do with your staff to resolve these issues, make improvements and finding new ways to delight travelers that will positively impact tonight’s guests that will lead to higher rankings tomorrow.

     
  2. HMG

    We could not agree more, thanks for this helpful post that sheds a bright light on the uses of our online tools to build a satisfied customer base.

     
  3. Gavin Pereira

    As an OTA for serviced apartments, extended stay hotels, and apart hotels we allow all our property partners to view reviews and respond to them. I am pleased to confirm that 98% of the property partners respond quickly and try to make amends with the client. However I would like to highlight that while responding to customer reviews – especially critical reviews is important it is also equally important to reply in a diplomatic, professional and constructive manner so that all parties concerned can be made aware of the circumstances of the situation, product offered and levels of service to be expected. Reviews are also good in managing future clients expectations.

    I make the above comments because I have seen on some “hotel review” websites that owners or hotel managers reply to reviews in manner that can be described as defensive or mildly aggressive.

     
  4. Carol Smyth

    I agree that you should respond to reveiws but it is frustrating that on some Online Travel Agent sites we don’t have the ability to be able to respond to the reveiws posted which I think is very unfair as we don’t get to let guests know that an issue that they have had has been sorted.

    So come on OTA’s give us the ability to respond.

     
 
 

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