According to a 2015 study made by TripAdvisor, 96% of TripAdvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning trips and booking hotels. 83% of users tend to reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel, and most of them read 6 to 8 reviews before the final verdict.
This seems to be a lot of numbers and statistics but most hotels nowadays are or should be concerned about online Hotel Reputation Management. It’s extremely critical that hotels are smart about the way they handle reviews about this hotel especially the negative ones.
Is Management paying attention to hotel reviews?
Most travellers decide to book their hotel depending on how the management responded to reviews made online especially the response to the bad ones. 87% of travellers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.
So how can hotels master online reviews? Especially once a review is available online, the review as well as the response can be seen forever:
• Invest in an online reputation management tool
It’s not always possible for a hotel manager or staff to monitor each and every website possible to see whether their hotel has been reviewed? Apart from the hotel’s website you have TripAdvisor, Yelp, Booking.com and so on.
Online reputation management (ORM) tools can assist a hotel by monitoring review sites. These tools can provide alerts to the hotel when their property is mentioned and can take it a step further by monitoring specific topics or trends on which their guests seem to comment on.
The tools can also be used as a 2 way communication to send surveys or review requests to the guests.
• Take negative feedbacks as constructive criticism and respond accordingly
It is a human tendency to be more vocal about bad experiences as compare to the good ones. People between the ages of 36 and 50 are almost guaranteed to share stories of bad customer service, and guests of all demographics are more likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one.
Hotels should definitely make it a point to respond to such reviews and acknowledge the grievances and take accountability; if the review is justified. A customer is more than willing to forgive if they know that they have been heard. In fact, 95% of customers are willing to give a hotel a second chance if management responds to their complaint in an appropriate and timely manner.
• Analyze the review content
Reviews provide critical information in creating the foundation of a strong SWOT analysis for a hotel. Hotels can review the areas in which they excel at and areas in which there is scope for improvement.
If using ORM tools, then hotels can preset categories and reports to cover different facets of a hotel ranging from the F&B outlets, check-ins and check-outs, spa etc., and then decide on their course of action accordingly.
• Share Reviews with your team
Unless the reviews or the analysis of the reviews are not shared with the staff, then there is no point to this whole exercise. Many times the face of the hotel for a customer is the front level staff that they interact with, the front office staff, the waiters and stewards at the restaurants etc, it’s imperative that these staff are up to date with the feedback that the hotel is receiving.
Insights from the reviews should also be shared with all relevant departments to encourage improvement as well as reinforce the good work that is already being done.
Hotels need to tackle online reviews heads on, rather than skirt away from them. The above-mentioned methods can help hoteliers to proactively manage responses to their online reviews and see how best they can benefit from them.
—"4 great ways for hoteliers to master the world of online reviews",