Kennedy Uduny today explains how best to respond to hotel reviews

(Posted 15th February 2022)

If you provide a great guest experience, a 5-star review is likely your reward. Underwhelm a guest and you’ll have to suffer the consequences of a bad review, which may cost you future bookings.

From the luxury resort to the neighbourhood bed and breakfast, hotels all have one thing in common: Guests. Your biggest priority is ensuring their satisfaction. You want every guest to have a great stay because you care about their happiness and want them to become loyal customers. But deep down, you also want them to spread positive vibes about your hotel.

Today, the guest experience is more visible than ever before.  Reviews are front and centre for the world to see, whether on dedicated review sites or OTAs. If you provide a great guest experience, a 5-star review is likely your reward. Underwhelm a guest and you’ll have to suffer the consequences of a bad review, which may cost you future bookings.

When I began my career in the hospitality industry, online review sites and OTAs were just beginning to become popular with travellers. Today, they are a huge part of the travel ecosystem. According to research conducted by TripAdvisor, 96% of travellers consider reviews when researching a hotel and 79% will read between six and 12 reviews before making a purchasing decision.

Proactively managing online reviews shouldn’t be considered a chore. Responding to reviews has tremendous benefits. In addition to driving future bookings, reading and responding to reviews will give you a view into the guest experience that you would otherwise not have. With this perspective, you can know where your hotel’s strengths and weaknesses lie and how you should focus your efforts to improve your offering.

Ensuring your hotel remains competitive within the ever-expanding landscape of hotel, review sites has become a key priority for hoteliers across the world. I have taken my time to compile a mini-series guide on how to respond to online reviews and why nailing the response is so important.

Online Reputation myths busted:

Myth #1: “People only write reviews when they want to complain or want to get something for free.”

So why do people write reviews? They do it to help other travellers, to share tips and great experiences or just to reward staff for a job well done.

Myth #2: “No one reads review responses.”

Don’t use this myth as an excuse to avoid responding to your reviews. According to a Cornell University study, responding to reviews, particularly negative reviews, improves the consumer’s perception of a business, as measured by increases in rating scores. Furthermore, 78 per cent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them.

Myth #3: “Online reviews were a big deal a decade ago but they’re not as popular today.”

False! The number of reviews published on review sites and OTAs has been growing year-over-year for a decade. Covid-19 halted that growth since so few people travelled, but the travel industry expects to see volumes return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as travellers return to hotels and want to share their experiences.

Myth #4: “TripAdvisor is the only site that really matters.”

The online review landscape has changed a lot over the last decade. While TripAdvisor used to be the biggest online review site, Google has now taken the lead. Hoteliers should respond to reviews on all sites where you have reviews. Prioritize your time according to review site popularity, but leave responses on all sites so it’s clear you’re paying attention to guest feedback. Here’s a look at the pre-pandemic numbers.

Myth #5: “I need to respond to every review.”

A study by Cornell University also found a positive correlation between response rates and bookings revenue. That is, hotels that respond to 40-45% of reviews may see up to a 2.2x lift in bookings revenue, as compared to hotels that don’t respond to reviews at all. However, the study noted that there are diminishing revenue returns for hotels that respond to more than 40-45% of their online reviews. So, the truth is that you don’t need to respond to every single review.

On this series of reputation management, check next week topic where we will be talking about Reputation best practices and why Hotel Managers should accept that online reviews are influencing prospective guests.

Stay safe!

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