In our blog article on How to save time when replying to hotel reviews? we suggested 5 easy to implement strategies for saving time when responding to online guest reviews. In this article we expand on one of the strategies suggested there – Using review templates.
But before we dive into implementing this strategy,
Why should you respond to all reviews?
Through our own behavior, we know that potential customers read reviews before buying. What we know less about, however, is that the percentage of customers who take no action before reading reviews is a staggering 89% (Source: WebTribunal).
In addition, and this cannot be stressed enough, 97% of consumers who read reviews read the business' responses to the reviews. (Source: Brightlocal). Consequently it goes without saying that hotel owners or managers who respond to reviews increase the likelihood of a purchase or booking. However, it is surprising to find out exactly how much that increase is. According to the same study, the likelihood increases twofold: from 43% if companies do not respond to reviews to 89% if they respond to all reviews.
I won't dwell on more statistics, but the message that reviews should be responded to is easily understood by the Harvard Business Review Study that says responding to all reviews leads to better ratings and rankings for the hotel industry.
Sometimes even marginal improvement in ratings could result in whether the customer sees your hotel, or they don’t. When searching for ‘Best Hotels in Mannheim’ for example, Google automatically shows only those with a rating of above 4:
Benefits of using templates
Saves time when responding to reviews
Customer-centric hoteliers can easily get bogged down in the details of responding to individual reviews. Although we are champions of maintaining the personal connection between the hotelier and the guest, we are aware how time consuming it can be having to start from a blank page for each and every review.
Using some downtime and investing it into building a quality template library for the most frequent review themes can save tons of time when hoteliers need it most. This way, focusing on urgent matters and taking care of your current guests does not have to come at the expense of leaving guest reviews unanswered for days or even weeks. In the next section of the article, we provide some tips on starting out with using templates for responding to guest reviews.
Responding to guest reviews, regardless whether positive or negative, provides a chance to include keywords in the response. To reap the best results of SEO optimization as well as maximize the number of bookings, brainstorm and list out the Unique Selling Points (USPs) for your hotel, or in other terms – what you are most proud of in your hotel.
Think about what differentiates you from the competition and what you would like your potential guests to know about your offering. This could be ‘great reviews’, ‘best location in town’, ‘great guest experience’, ‘superior SPA service’, ‘extended check-out’, etc. Then make sure you include these keywords in the template library you build out. See the example below and note the keywords in bold. Positioning them in the template you use for answering the guest review has the potential to skyrocket your online rankings. Afterall, containing the right keywords is the most influential factor in rankings on Google.
Let’s say that you are a boutique hotel in downtown London and a happy guest just posted a glowing review online. You could reply, “Thanks for the great review! We are constantly striving to offer the best guest experience there is. I’m grateful you chose our hotel for your stay. I hope you have enjoyed our extended check-out and I am happy that you appreciated the great location of our hotel.
Of course, you should build your templates in a way that allows for personalization. Don’t overuse the list of keywords as guests value connection and actual gratitude as opposed to ‘salesy’ pitches. Hence, if done in a repetitive, unoriginal, and impersonal way, communicating your USPs could very well lead to disengaging and losing potential or existing customers.
One way to maintain the connection with the customer, always address the key points in the review and come up with a response in seconds is to use our AI Review Reply Assistant. Since responding to any review regardless of language and length in seconds sounds like magic (😊) you could try it yourself here without any obligations (no credit card required).
Improves hotelier onboarding
Building a library of templates addressing the most common complaints or praises can serve as a training content for any new member of the team. For them, a well-maintained and comprehensive library of templates could facilitate their onboarding and help them hit the ground running in responding to guests.
Ensures consistency and high-level of professionalism
A well-built out library of templates could also serve as a standard that your Front Office Managers or Guest Experience Managers should adhere to. The well-thought-out responses will aid the hoteliers in maintaining a consistent tone of voice in responding and attention to the key aspects of the guest review.
Tips for implementing the use of templates
Start out with our collection of templates: Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch when building out your own template library. We have collected the most common complaint and praise themes and have suggested templates. You can download an easy to use excel file from the form below this article. We would appreciate your feedback and suggestions for improvements – just shoot us an email.
What is in the excel file:
Positive review response examples
Responding to positive reviews is arguably easier than answering negative reviews. As reviews differ in tone of voice and length, we also suggest adapting to these factors. Therefore, the Excel file contains 3 positive review response examples that differ in length and style.
Negative review response examples
When dealing with reviews, you will quickly recognize some common complaint themes in negative reviews. Even if you are able to improve your services (e.g., adding more vegan breakfast options) some complaint themes are probably not that easy to fix (bathroom concept, noise of outside construction) and will therefore be present in negative reviews from time to time. The excel file contains 8 negative review response examples addressing specific guest complaints such as unclean rooms, additional charges, delayed check-in etc. In addition, we added 10 review response snippets to more specific guest complaints such as poor breakfast, noise or lack of amenities.
DOS and DON'TS when using templates
No matter how comprehensive your template library is, you should always plan and allow for personalization. ‘Templated response’ has acquired a negative connotation (and for a reason!) and if all your responses sound the same, this would defeat the purpose of responding to them whatsoever. The templates you collect should serve the purpose of saving you from having to start from a blank page for every review, but the same template should not be used as a silver bullet for a variety of reviews.
Personalizing your response is the starting point towards manifesting your dedication to the customer! Design your templates in a way that allows for personalization and acknowledging the key points from the review – this shows commitment, which will not be the case were you to use the same response over and over again…
As a lot can be said on how to respond to online guest reviews, we have already dedicated a blog post on the Dos and Don'ts of Responding to Online Guest Reviews. Make sure to visit the hotel best practices in the article and incorporate them when designing your templates.
While templates can be an effective way to streamline your review response process, beware of overusing them. Your guests will appreciate if you take the time to read and respond thoughtfully to their individual concerns – after all, they chose your hotel because they wanted a personalized experience! So, use templates sparingly and only when appropriate; otherwise stick to crafting original replies tailored specifically to each reviewer’s comments and keep the process improvements above in mind.