What are the benefits of hotel reviews?
According to a recent study conducted by TripAdvisor, 81% of travelers read reviews before booking a hotel. On the other hand, another survey claims that digital advertisements only generate 31% of bookings. Based on these statistics alone, it’s safe to say that guest reviews are one of the most effective marketing strategies for the hotel industry.
Aside from providing social proof for potential guests, reviews help hotel managers or property owners generate organic online content. This can be beneficial in boosting the visibility of a hotel listing to relevant searches. The higher the ranking is, the more online bookings a property can get.
Why is a timely response important?
Responding to online reviews within 24 hours of posting is proven to boost customer engagement. However, recent studies suggest that with the rise of technology, consumers tend to expect business owners to be online 24/7. This means that late business responses can do more harm than good, as it gives the impression that business owners do not appreciate and value their guests.
For an industry that’s heavily dependent on customer service, it’s essential that customers feel they are important. For this reason, hoteliers must create an efficient procedure that will allow them to respond to online reviews promptly.
Strategies for responding to reviews more efficiently
As a general manager, front office manager, or guest relationship manager at a hotel, you know that responding to guest reviews is an important part of managing your property. But it can also be time-consuming and mentally demanding, especially if you're dealing with a lot of reviews. And let’s be honest, even though you learn a lot this task can sometimes also be a little tedious. Here are some tips to help you save time when responding to hotel reviews.
1. Process improvements – Be concise and make answering reviews a daily habit
Keep it short: Even though this seems obvious, as with anything else related to writing online, try to keep answers short and sweet. Do not take more than three minutes, especially if the review is brief and focus on key points for longer reviews. This helps you and future guests save time as it answers questions they may have about their stay.
Answer daily: If possible, reply to all guest feedback within 24 hours (or sooner). Even if answering daily doesn't reduce actual workload, it's a great tool for reducing the peak level and can lead to a higher satisfaction when the job is done.
Delegate to team members: Something else we’ve seen in some Hotels is a review reply-policy which was introduced by the general management and implemented by the hotel’s staff which was trained accordingly. While this is some time investment in the very beginning, it pays off in the long run, as delegating review replies to staff saves time for the management and brings ownership to the team. Have your team routinely involve you when they are unsure, and then gradually reduce your involvement once you feel they are in control. When doing this, make sure you stay up to date with your guests’ feedback.
2. Use review templates - Effective, but to be treated with great caution
Create high quality templates: When you’re managing a hotel, it can be easy to get bogged down in the details of replying to reviews. The most efficient way of answering to a lot of reviews and save a ton of time is to use pre-built templates. ⚠️ But be careful! No future guest likes to see a review page full of non-original, copy & paste template replies. ⚠️ Some people argue, that not responding might be even better than responding with “Thank you for your feedback, we will take this into consideration.” This is not the kind of templates you want to use.
Build up a template library: To start building your template library, first brainstorm the most common issues and questions that guests raise in their reviews. Then, craft responses that address each issue concisely but thoroughly. Be sure to leave room for customization so that you can insert guest names and other specific details as needed.
Use with caution: 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.
3. Use a review management platform – Pricey, but often worth the money
Reply in a single tool: We all know that all the reviews your hotel is getting are spread across multiple platforms on the internet. So, another way to save time is to use a review management platform. These tools can help you quickly reply to reviews as they keep track of all your reviews from different sites in one place. They also help you track your performance over time, and even get insights into what guests are saying about your property. Plus, they can automate some of the more monotonous aspects of review management, like sending follow-up emails.
Find the tool that is right for you: There are a few different review management platforms to choose from, so be sure to do your research to find the one that's right for you. They offer a variety of features and accordingly pricing varies a lot. The type and size of your property as well as the PMS you’re using and other factors might greatly influence your needs when it comes to reputation management tools. HotelTechReport offers a very convenient overview of reputation management software providers – check it out. Some of the leading providers are – in alphabetical order – Customer Alliance, GuestRevu, Hotellistat, TrustYou, ReviewPro, and Revinate.
4. Use an AI Review Reply Assistant – The magic is real!
Generate individual answers to each review in seconds: Finding the balance between time consumption, cost and service quality might sound impossible. However, AI Review Reply Assistants can enable you to increase your productivity by suggesting hyper-personalised responses to each review, to significantly reduce your time without sacrificing the important individual message. Best of all, you'll never have to start with a blank sheet again.
Try for free: Attention, this is the commercial part in this blog 😉 We want to help hotels truly care about guests and their feedback, giving them the ability to respond individually with minimal effort. Our AI Review Reply Assistant makes this possible by generating unique, human-like responses every time to make your customers feel valued. If your customer’s satisfaction comes first, and if authenticity is something you strive for, you might want to check it out. Feel free to register for a test (no credit card required).
5. Outsource review responses – But stay in control!
Outsource it: Only looking at ‘time saving’, completely outsourcing review replies seems to be the most efficient way. There are specialized managed services that answer guest reviews on behalf of the hotel. Doing something like this should always be done with greatest care as your guests rightfully expect you to care about them and take their feedback seriously.
Find the right partner: To not lose control over the process, ensure great quality and to not lose human touch with your customers you should look for the following:
- A good service provider who will create a review reply policy together with you which will be the training for their writers.
- A service provider that has trained writers who are native speakers.
- The same group of writers, that is answering on behalf of you.
- Decision-making whether you want to approve all or parts of the answers before they are sent.
- Possibility of the service provider to provide a summarization of the reviewers' praise and criticism.
Price–performance ratio: Obviously, such managed services are quite expensive. At the same time, they save a lot of time. When choosing the right provider, the service quality toward your guests should not be an issue and this is definitely better then not answering or providing template answers. These services also tend to produce more elaborate answers than an AI Review Reply Assistant but come with a completely different price tag.
How can I improve my hotel reviews?
Aside from responding to hotel reviews promptly, there are other ways to improve your guests’ reviews of your hotel. To do this, you must maintain your responses concise, appreciative, professional, and personalized. To learn more, read our article about how to respond to online reviews.
There is no “one size fits all” solution! Whether you go for outsourcing, templates, or leverage the support of an AI Review Reply Assistant, you should carefully consider their respective pros and cons. Responding to guest reviews is a paramount step towards customer satisfaction enhancement which will create a trust net for your future guests. Knowing how to respond to these reviews is one thing, however, knowing how to manage replying to every guest feedback individually will make you stand out from the crowd.
This article is part of our hero content series on “How to Use Online Reviews to Your Advantage – The Ultimate Guide".
Frequently Asked Questions:
The best average response time for online reviews is 24 hours. Responding to feedback beyond this time may give the impression that your business doesn’t care about your customers.
Hotel reviews are the best way for guests to get an accurate depiction of their potential stay. For hotel managers and property owners, having positive online feedback can generate better conversion rates as they serve as a crucial deciding factor for guests.
The hospitality industry revolves around providing an excellent customer experience. Guest reviews are the most effective way to show potential guests the services you can provide once you book your listing. This is why it’s considered a more effective marketing strategy than traditional advertisements.