Hotel Review sites ( especially TripAdvisor) have redefined the way travelers book their accommodation. Reviews on a hotel are one of the primary factors that travelers today consider before booking their stay. And it is fairly black and white when it comes to making decisions based on reviews- the better a hotel fares on leading hotel review websites, the higher the chances of potential travelers booking a stay and vice versa.
Consider these stats:
‘More than 90% of travelers book a hotel based on positive reviews as they trust advice of co-travelers instead of advertisements’
‘More than 90% of travelers won’t book a hotel that has negative reviews’
‘44% of online reviews play a big role in influencing whether or not to book the accommodation’
‘Online reviews can increase hotel bookings up to a quarter’
Guest reviews are definitely gaining momentum and online hotel review sites such as TripAdvisor play a big role in driving trust and credibility for an independent hotel. Earlier, independent hotels, with their limited budget and resources, would not get as much online exposure as chain hotels did. But reviews have acted as game changers for small independent hotels, giving them a chance to get equal exposure as their branded rivals.
More and more travelers now rely on reviews on hotels before making a booking. The below infographic showcases how reviews are influencing travelers and impacting the hotelier’s business.
HOW TRAVELERS FIND VALUE IN TRIPADVISOR
TRUSTWORTHINESS: As a leading Hotel review website, TripAdvisor plays a major role in influencing travelers’ booking decisions. 34% of travelers consider it to be a trustworthy hotel review site and 98% of TripAdvisor users claim to have found the guest reviews ‘actual of the actual experience’.
CREDIBILITY: The credibility that TripAdvisor has gained among global audiences is massive. The 87% of travelers feel more confident in their decision when they read reviews and 65% are more likely to choose a hotel that has won a TripAdvisor award.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HOTELIERS?
We understand how it is easy for hoteliers to have a bitter-sweet relationship with Hotel review sites. The impact they have on your business is undeniable – be it positive or otherwise. But here’s what’s crucial to your success- set aside your personal opinions and focus on how you can use the tool to your benefit. It’s time to pull up your socks and befriend Hotel review websites.
HOW HOTELIERS CAN FIND VALUE IN TRIPADVISOR
Another important tip for hoteliers to remember, when it comes to improving their online review game is this- TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index algorithm works on the quantity, quality and recency of reviews. We’ll discuss this in detail, very shortly.
Thanks to technology, independent hotels now have a lot of scope to work on these three factors and compete with the branded hotels. Putting together a strategy and having dedicated staff to stay on top of reviews coming in can help immensely in transforming your online review game.
That being said, it is also paramount for you and your staff to understand how TripAdvisor’s popularity index works. This helps you handle certain unpleasant situations you might encounter and make sure your overall online reputation doesn’t get tarnished.
HERE’S HOW TO LEVERAGE TRIPADVISOR POPULARITY INDEX
TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index helps understand where you stand, compared to your competitors in the vicinity. There are, of course, several factors that are at play in this competition. But the three most important ones are quality, quantity and the recency of reviews, like we discussed earlier. Let’s dig a little deeper into these factors.
This one is a double-edged sword which can go either ways depending on the guest experience you offer. When it comes to getting reviews that inspire other travelers to book a stay at your hotel, there’s no tool or software to help you. The only way to guarantee great reviews is by giving your guests an experience they can’t stop gushing over.
We’ve spoken about how working on your guest experience can positively impact your hotel in multiple ways in one of our earlier blogs. But this much is guaranteed, you cannot expect amazing reviews unless you treat your guests right. A good starting point would be to map out your customer’s journey and make sure you take all necessary steps to make their journey as seamless as possible.
Since the number of reviews you get on TripAdvisor is important to your online popularity, make sure you have a strong review collection process in place. You could automate this process with tools or do it manually. Both methods have their pros and cons. It depends on what works for you and what’s convenient for you.
When you reach out to guests with a review request, it is key to know the right touchpoint for each guest, and to ensure that you are subtle with your request. When you receive a review, make sure you thank the guest for their time. All reviews should be acknowledged gracefully. Show genuine gratitude for positive reviews and apologize to guests who leave negative reviews.
Closing the loop is crucial when it comes to winning guests over, especially the angry ones. When you’ve taken their feedback into account and fixed whatever issues they had with you, write back to them thanking them for pointing out the issue and let them know that it’s been dealt with. Invite them back to your property by incentivizing them. This builds credibility and shows them that you care, which goes a long way in redefining their association with you. They might just leave you an awesome feedback, who knows!
This is where automation could help you. Keeping track of every guest and reaching out to them manually, drafting personalized messages might get too exhausting. Automating review collection is a great way to make sure that every guest who checks out of your property receives a feedback request.
The more recent your reviews, the higher your chances of faring better than competitors. So, make sure you follow up on your happy guests, encouraging them to share their experience online without being too pushy.
Generating higher quality reviews, more reviews and fresh reviews should be an integral part of a hotelier’s strategy as an independent hotel can no longer afford to ignore the power of reviews.
3. TECHNOLOGY – THE ONLINE REVIEW GAME-CHANGER
Here’s the thing – Hotels can maximize reviews using automated review collection tools that can help them collect up to 30% more reviews. While TripAdvisor is a great platform to make use of, there are scores of other tech solutions that hotels can look into- from automating the review collection process, managing online guest reviews, to reputation management. Independent hotels need to view technology as a strategic way to drive business rather than just a tool.
For example – by automating review collection, an independent hotel can free up its staff time that can be utilized to improve guest satisfaction, which in turn can lead to more positive reviews that can again drive bookings. Having a cloud PMS can resolve a lot of your challenges and help you improve guest experience as well as automat review collection.