Online reviews have become an important part of the travel industry. Travelers use them to find and compare places to stay, while hotels use them to manage how they are perceived by potential and existing customers.
It’s no secret that reviews can help boost your sales. But did you know they can also cause irreparable damage if something falls through the cracks?
To help you get the most out of customer feedback and maximize customer satisfaction, we'll answer common questions about them, as well as provide examples of how to respond to reviews.
Why Do Online Reviews Matter for Guests?
Online reviews help people make informed decisions when they're looking for a place to stay. As a matter of fact, travelers rely heavily on reviews when choosing a place to book. 81% of people always or often read reviews before booking a hotel. Simultaneously, positive reviews remain a profitable force for businesses and hotels alike with customers and guests willing to spend 31% more on businesses with excellent feedback. Here’s why online reviews are considered trustworthy nowadays:
Reviews can be a great way to get a feel for a place before it is booked.
People can find out from others whether the staff treated them nicely, whether the room was clean, or if the food was good. It's better than guessing about a place and then being disappointed when they get there. Guests have come to rely on online reviews as much as personal recommendations, with nearly half of guests finding them highly valuable and trustworthy. This is especially easier to do now because everyone has access to the internet and doesn't need to give out sensitive information to do so.
Reviews are an honest way of looking at businesses.
Your future guests can read honest thoughts and opinions from people who aren't trying to use fake reviews as a strategy to attract more customers. A lot of online reviewers nowadays have no qualms about speaking their truths. They'll tell you if they think something is overpriced, if a company sent them the wrong item, or if they don't like the way a business conducts its affairs.
Reviews usually come with visuals.
The simple addition of pictures is what makes reviews so powerful. People can now see what their potential accommodations will look like before they even arrive. It's no longer a matter of just reading a description and deciding whether or not it appeals to them — now they have a real sense of what the surroundings will be like.
With reviews that detail so much information, it's easier than ever to know what to expect before you even arrive at your destination. It also helps potential guests to decide if they want to book a room at a certain hotel or not. The more positive opinions posted by real people, the better your chances of getting more bookings.
What are the Advantages of Reading and Responding to Reviews?
The advantages of reviews for hoteliers aren’t few and far between. For starters, reviews can have a direct effect on hotel ratings. Tripadvisor found that hotels that reply to at least 65% of their reviews have an average rating of 4.15. And according to Expedia, guests actually value a hotel’s rating over a hotel’s brand name 72% of the time.
In addition, this also offers hoteliers a chance to view their establishment from the perspective of a customer, allowing them to assess the customer experience objectively. As a result, it provides them useful insight into the interactions between their staff and guests as well as areas of improvement in cleanliness, food and beverage service, and more.
Additionally, your guests' opinions about your hotel can make a big difference in whether they return and the kind of word-of-mouth recommendations they make, so make sure you make the most out of them.
For example, by replying to feedback with thoughtful and motivating statements or thanking guests for their compliments, hotels can demonstrate their commitment to providing a high level of service. When prospective guests observe that personnel are attentive and responsive, they are more likely to trust that their needs will be addressed.
Responses that demonstrate proactivity are also positively received. If managers recognize any problems or grievances and promise improvements, it shows reliability and integrity. This gives team leaders the chance to contact unhappy customers and discuss their matters further, allowing for the opportunity to make their next stay better.
Furthermore, responding to reviews sets the hotel apart from others, as only 36% of properties react to such reviews on booking sites. Answering reviews reveals that management is concerned with guests' experiences and is determined to offer the best service.
How should hotels respond to positive reviews?
Your guests are savvy, and they've seen their fair share of canned responses. To make the most of the free marketing that comes with hotel replies, follow these tips to deliver genuine answers.
- Address the reviewer by their name or online moniker.
- Thank the reviewer for taking the time out of their day to write a review.
- Use "we" statements in response to positive reviews to show that the hotel is working together to provide a good experience for customers. For example, you could say: "We are very pleased to hear that you had a wonderful stay with us."
It is not essential to answer every favorable review, yet it is essential to make sure that any responses to positive reviews are genuine, heartfelt, and accurately represent the guest's experience.
How should hotels respond to negative reviews?
A negative review can be extremely damaging to your business. The most effective way to respond to it is by acknowledging the guest’s comments and taking ownership of any issues that occurred. Being defensive or argumentative will only cause more damage than good. Check out our detailed guide on DOS and DON’TS when responding to reviews here.
An empirical study conducted by the ITB and University of Worms in Germany found that 35% of Internet users would shy away from booking a hotel if they encountered more negative reviews than positive ones. Factors such as these highlight why customer feedback is so important for hotels to consider when developing their digital presence.
That being said, encourage the guest to contact you directly to discuss their stay further as this will demonstrate that you are willing to work with them to improve the situation, as well as build a positive relationship. A follow-up phone call or personal conversation with a guest who had a poor experience can be very effective in transforming them into a loyal customer.
Should hotels respond to every review?
Given that our time is limited, responding to each and every review is not always feasible. However, ignoring them completely is not the best option either. Remember that to make the most of customer feedback, we should focus on providing thoughtful, constructive responses, rather than simply acknowledging compliments from guests.
If you find yourself busy or simply don't have the time to respond to every negative review, you can use MARA's AI Review Reply Assistant to automatically generate a response to every review in seconds.
This AI Review Reply Assistant analyzes the text of your reviews and generates personalized responses based on their content. You can then approve or edit the responses before sending them out.
You can also use this tool to respond to negative reviews with positive comments or suggestions for improvement. This can help you to turn one-star reviews into four - or five-star ones.
Where do hotel guests leave online reviews?
With the rise of social media, it's easy to find websites and accounts that allow visitors to share their experiences with others. It's smart to create a profile for your property on the most popular review sites so that you can get as many feedbacks as possible. These online platforms include TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Google, Facebook, Trivago, Yelp, Orbitz, and Hotwire.com.
It is important to check these websites on a regular basis in order to make sure that all of the details associated with the property and the contact information are identical and up to date across all of the platforms.
Strategies to Systematize Responding to Reviews
To improve the efficiency of your hotel's response to reviews, we recommend implementing the following best practices:
- Decide which department (operations, sales, or guest services manager) will be in charge of responding to reviews and whether you will alternate the tasks.
- Set up a hotel email account and link it to all your online hotel profiles, so you can receive real-time rating alerts.
- Use a consistent and professional voice when responding to reviews and highlight the positive features and benefits your hotel has to offer to influence reviews.
- Establish a policy for offering partial refunds, giveaways, certificates, or other surprises to dissatisfied guests. Words go a long way, but actions speak so much louder.
- Make sure to respond to all negative reviews as soon as possible (ideally within 24-48 hours). Consistency is key.
Respond to Hotel Reviews with an AI Review Reply Assistant
Now that you understand how to reply to comments posted in hotel reviews, you can start to develop your own house policies and use the best techniques for responding to reviews.
To help you, here are some examples of reviews that you may come across and how you might reply to them.
Here are some examples on how to respond to both a positive and negative review using MARA AI Review Reply Assistant. MARA is doing most of the work for you by instantly recognizing the sentiment of the review and providing a personalized response.
When responding to reviews, it's important to be thoughtful and genuine. Whether negative or positive, take the opportunity to thank guests for taking the time to leave feedback and let them know that you value their opinion. Show your appreciation for their patronage and handle any complaints with grace and professionalism.
Reviews are a critical part of running a successful hotel, and understanding how to respond to them is key. Keeping up with reviews can be time-consuming, but there are tools like MARA AI Review Reply Assistant that can help make the process easier. By responding thoughtfully and professionally to both positive and negative reviews, you'll show guests that you value their feedback and help build a solid reputation for your hotel.
Ultimately, responding to reviews is an opportunity to engage with customers and build relationships that will help your hotel business thrive. So take the time to do it right!