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How to Use Online Reviews to Your Advantage – The Ultimate Guide

How to Use Online Reviews to Your Advantage – The Ultimate Guide
Tobias Roelen-Blasberg
Co-Founder & Head of Product
Discover how to effectively manage online reviews and boost your online reputation with our ultimate guide to using online reviews to your advantage.
How to Use Online Reviews to Your Advantage – The Ultimate Guide
TABLE OF CONTENTS

In this article, you will learn all you need to know about managing reviews for your hotel, from responding to them in a timely manner, to responding to reviews on different platforms. Additionally, you will learn how to remove bad reviews, gather more reviews, and use strategies to save time when responding to reviews.

What is the importance of online reviews for hotels?

Online reviews are crucial to the success of every business, particularly in the hospitality industry, such as hotels. In 2023, statistics show that 70.9% of travelers say that online reputation influences their choice of accommodation, and 81% say they always read reviews before booking a hotel. Additionally, 86% of people would pass off a good deal from a company with bad reviews, and one unaddressed negative review can easily drive away 30 out of 50 potential customers. These numbers prove the importance of replying to online reviews in the hotel industry and the need to have a positive online presence.

sample-google-review-hotel
Sample of a Google review for a hotel.

Google Reviews are particularly important, as 72% of hotel bookings happen within 48 hours following a Google Search. With an average response rate of 40% in the industry, it is essential for hotels to write excellent responses to Google Reviews quickly. Writing responses with category and location-based keywords is also important for better visibility in searches.

For more information, see the full article here: Why are online reviews so important for hotels?

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What are the review statistics every hotelier needs to know in 2024?

In 2024, hoteliers must be attuned to pivotal review statistics to optimize their operations and enhance guest satisfaction. Firstly, 86% of hoteliers consider guest reviews very important, underscoring the industry's heightened awareness of their impact. Responding to online reviews is a standard practice, with 73% engaging actively. Impressively, 4 out of 5 respond within a day, showcasing the industry's commitment to prompt interaction. Notably, 80% of hoteliers respond to every negative review, recognizing the importance of addressing concerns. The majority (75%) also respond to positive reviews, fostering positive guest relationships. AI integration, exemplified by platforms like MARA, is emerging, with 25% using it for responses. Furthermore, 83% actively collect Google Reviews, emphasizing Google's significance. The enduring value of traditional guest surveys is acknowledged by 83% of hoteliers.

infographic key hotel review statistics 2024
Key review hotel statistics of 2024.

Staying informed about these statistics can guide hoteliers in navigating the dynamic landscape of guest reviews in 2024. If you want to use these data to configure your online reputation management strategies this year, read our article Review Statistics Every Hotelier Needs to Know in 2024

Should you reply to online reviews?

Yes! Replying to online reviews can have a significant impact on your business. A survey by BrightLocal found that 77% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchase or visit, so responding to reviews can help to increase customer retention, build up your online reputation, and even raise your SEO rankings. Plus, Google has been known to favor businesses that respond to reviews when determining search rankings, so it’s important to take the time to reply to those reviews in order to ensure that your business is seen in the best light.

Check out our dos and don’ts for replying to reviews: How to respond to online reviews?

Should I reply to every review?

Yes, you should reply to every review, as this demonstrates your commitment to customer service and leaves customers feeling valued and respected. Responding to reviews also helps build trust between you and your customers, provides valuable feedback for future improvements, may turn happy customers into brand advocates, raises your ratings, and increases brand visibility and engagement.

If you’re interested in learning more, this article has it all: Why is it important to respond to reviews?

What are best practices for responding to review?

When responding to reviews, it's important to be thoughtful and genuine. Appreciation for customer's feedback and handling complaints with grace and professionalism will help build a solid reputation. MARA AI Review Reply Assistant can help make the process easier by recognizing the sentiment and providing a personalized response in seconds. Address the reviewer by name or online moniker, thank them for taking the time to write a review, and use "we" statements to show that the business is working together to provide a good experience. Follow up with unhappy customers to make their next stay better and demonstrate that you are willing to work with them.

using-ai-review-reply-assistant-responding-google-reviews
Using an AI review reply assistant in responding to Google reviews.

Responding to reviews sets your business apart from others and shows that management is concerned with guests' experiences. It is not essential to answer every favorable review, yet it is essential to make sure any responses to positive reviews are genuine, heartfelt, and accurately represent the guest's experience. When responding to negative reviews, acknowledge the guest’s comments and take ownership of any issues that occurred. Encourage the guest to contact you directly to discuss their stay further and demonstrate that you are willing to work with them to make the situation better. Reviews are an honest way of looking at businesses and responding to them is an opportunity to engage with customers and build relationships.

Interested in learning more - read our full guide here: How to Respond to Hotel Reviews: The Complete Guide

Why you should respond to each review individually?

It is important to respond to each review individually, as it demonstrates a commitment to the highest level of customer service and builds trust between guests and your business. Responding to reviews in a timely and personalized manner provides valuable feedback for future improvements and encourages word-of-mouth marketing, while also raising ratings on review sites, increasing brand visibility and engagement, and showing customers that their opinion is valued and appreciated. Additionally, responding to reviews allows you to recognize and address any issues or problems that a customer may have had with your product or service, and to thank customers for their feedback and provide alternative solutions if necessary. All of this shows customers that their satisfaction is important to your business, and that you are dedicated to providing the best possible product or service

For more information, refer to the full article, “The Importance of Responding to Reviews Individually

How do you respond to a negative review?

Responding to a negative review is essential for protecting your business's online reputation. It's important to remain professional and acknowledge that the customer is upset, without taking it personally. A personalized response is the best way to show readers that you are in control of the situation and can rectify any errors you may have committed. Additionally, you should provide a clear path for further discussion with the customer to give them a chance to feel validated and empowered. Show your dedication to your brand by stating an ideal scenario, as well as including SEO keywords to increase visibility. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your online reputation remains intact, and that future customers get an accurate representation of your business.

For professional examples of responses to negative reviews, and more information on how to respond to negative reviews, visit “Don’t Let Negative Reviews Ruin Your Business: Examples & Tips”.

How to respond to positive reviews?

Responding to positive reviews is essential for businesses to increase customer satisfaction, retention, and brand loyalty. Business owners should strive to respond within 24 hours and make sure to add a personal touch to their reply by mentioning the customer's name. The tone of voice should be professional yet natural, reinforcing positive aspects and including relevant keywords to boost SEO. To assist business owners in crafting the perfect responses to positive reviews, AI review reply assistants like MARA AI can come in handy with just one click of a button. Depending on the industry and review platform, appropriate responses should be taken into account. To help you get inspired, here are a few examples of well-crafted responses to positive reviews for hotels, restaurants, eCommerce shops, apps, and local businesses.

For more information, read our full article “How to Respond to a Positive Review With Examples”.

How do you respond to a review without comments?

Responding to a review without comments can be a challenge, but there are some key steps you can take to ensure that you are maximizing the value of every review. Firstly, it is important to acknowledge any areas that the reviewer has mentioned in optional subratings of their feedback and to avoid using a generic template. Where possible, personalizing your response and expressing gratitude for the feedback can help to build a meaningful connection with the reviewer.

ai-review-reply-generator-reviews-without-comments
Using AI review reply generator in replying to reviews without comments.

Additionally, you can use relevant keywords in your response to optimize it for Google's search engine. If you’re pressed for time, you may even consider using an AI review assistant to help you quickly craft an engaging response. By following these steps, you can ensure that even a review without comments is a useful tool to improve your online presence and build a more meaningful relationship with the reviewer.

For more information, read this article: How to Respond to a Google Review With No Comment

How do you handle customer complaints for hotels and restaurants?

Handling customer complaints effectively is crucial for hotels and restaurants to maintain a positive reputation, cultivate customer loyalty, and stay competitive in today's business landscape.

When a customer raises a complaint, it is vital to validate their concerns and afford them undivided attention, allowing them to express their issues without interruption. This acknowledgment of their perspective is foundational for problem resolution. An apologetic yet professional tone should be maintained throughout the interaction, even when the legitimacy of the complaint might be in question. This balance helps diffuse potential tensions and underscores that the business takes customer concerns seriously.

Comprehensive documentation of the complaint's details, including the customer's contact information and a clear description of the issue, proves invaluable for effective resolution and future issue prevention. Engaging both the internal team and the customer in a constructive dialogue about potential resolutions is key, fostering collaborative problem-solving that showcases the commitment to addressing the matter.

Furthermore, timeliness is crucial in addressing complaints, as delayed responses can lead to exacerbated dissatisfaction. Upholding promises made during the resolution process is vital to building trust and credibility, while post-resolution follow-ups demonstrate a continued commitment to customer satisfaction.

To learn more about the best strategies for handling complaints for hotels and restaurants, read our complete article: How to Handle Customer Complaints: A Guide to Exceptional Customer Service

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How to manage your Google my Business reviews?

To manage Google reviews, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business (GMB) account https://www.google.com/business/.
  2. Navigate to your reviews page and enable sorting by "Newest."
  3. Click on the review you want to respond to and click "Reply."
  4. Type your response and press "Reply" again to post it.

Responding to Google reviews is essential for interacting with customers, increasing trust, and demonstrating that their opinions matter. Regularly reply to both positive and negative reviews. If you encounter unfair reviews, flag them as inappropriate or request the reviewer to delete them. To spot fake reviews, look for certain indicators such as generic details, unprofessional reviewer profiles, and mentions of competitors.

To gather more reviews, create a Google review link and share it on social media, email campaigns, and receipts. Respond quickly and personally to customer reviews to build trust in your brand. Use tools like URL shorteners or QR codes to make sharing your review link easier.

How to manage your Booking reviews?

To manage Booking.com reviews, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Booking.com account.
  2. Go to the Reviews tab.
  3. Access Guest Reviews and filter content.
  4. Write your reply, send, and review.

Respond promptly and professionally to guest reviews using Booking.com's partner dashboard. This demonstrates your commitment to providing exceptional customer service and makes potential guests feel confident in their choice of accommodation.

sample-booking-com-review
Sample of a Booking.com review.

If you need to remove a negative review, ensure it violates Booking.com's standards and submit a request for removal through the Inbox on your extranet with 'Guest Reviews' as the subject title. Booking.com will review and take appropriate action based on their policies and guidelines.

To get more reviews, directly ask guests at checkout, include requests in welcome packages or follow-up messages, use visual reminders, and offer incentives for reviews. This helps improve your online presence and attract new customers.

How to manage your Tripadvisor reviews?

To manage your TripAdvisor reviews, follow these steps:

  1. Register and verify as a property owner on TripAdvisor by claiming your free listing to access the Management Center.
  2. In the Management Center, navigate to the "Reviews" section and select "Respond to Reviews" from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the review you want to respond to by clicking on it in the left-hand sidebar. Filter reviews by date, title, rating, language, and response status. Enter your response in the box provided.
  4. Click the "Submit" button to publish your response, which will be visible on your TripAdvisor profile within 48 hours, provided it follows the site's guidelines. The timeframe may be extended if further review is needed.

Managing TripAdvisor reviews involves actively seeking more reviews, responding to both positive and negative reviews, and addressing any issues that arise. To remove bad reviews, try resolving disputes with the customer and request an updated review, or flag suspicious reviews for TripAdvisor's moderation team to investigate.

sample-tripadvisor-review
Sample of a Tripadvisor review.

It's essential to engage with guests on TripAdvisor as most travelers consider reviews before booking a hotel. Use strategies like TripAdvisor Review Express, reminder cards, stickers, review widgets, and social media promotion to generate more positive reviews and improve your TripAdvisor ranking.

How to reply to Expedia reviews?

  1. Log into your Expedia account
  2. Navigate to your property
  3. Open your Expedia reviews
  4. Filter your reviews
  5. Select a review
  6. Craft review response
  7. Submit response
  8. Check status of review response
sample-expedia-review
Sample of an Expedia review.

For more detailed instructions, visit: How to Respond to Reviews on Expedia and Hotels.com

What are time-saving strategies for responding to online reviews?

Answering online reviews can be time-consuming and mentally daunting for business managers. To help save time and manage workloads, there are several strategies to consider. Process improvements such as keeping answers brief, responding within 24 hours, and delegating to team members can be helpful. Utilizing review templates is also an option, but must be used with caution to avoid providing non-original, generic responses. To further streamline the process, consider using a review management platform to reply to reviews from multiple platforms in one place. Additionally, an AI Review Reply Assistant can generate individual answers to each review in seconds. Finally, completely outsourcing review replies is an option, but requires careful consideration to ensure great quality, a human touch, and control over the process. By implementing these strategies, business managers can provide quality responses to reviews while saving time.

For a comparison of these strategies, read the full article: How to save time when replying to hotel reviews?

What do you need to consider when using templates to respond to online review?

When using templates to respond to online reviews, it is important to consider a few key factors. Research shows that an impressive 89% of potential customers read reviews before making a purchase, and 97% of those customers read the business' responses to the reviews. This means that responding to reviews can have a positive impact on the likelihood of a purchase or booking. To ensure that responses are authentic and stay true to the brand while still saving time, templates should be created. These templates should include keywords and USPs that will help with SEO optimization, while also ensuring that the response is personalized and not generic. Additionally, it is important to adhere to the Dos and Don'ts of Responding to Online Guest Reviews, which can be found in the full article on this subject. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your responses to reviews are both effective and efficient.

Need to know more about templates for responding to reviews? Check out this article: Answering Hotel Reviews: Quick-Start Guide for Using Templates

Do review responses help SEO?

Yes, review responses can absolutely help SEO. Google reviews are indexed by search engines, which means that they can be seen by potential customers and influence their decision to use a business. Having a good response rate to reviews can help boost the visibility of a business in local searches, which can have a big impact on local SEO rankings, especially in the hospitality industry. Therefore, it is important for businesses to be aware of their reviews and strive to respond to them in a thoughtful and timely manner.

top-london-hotels-Google-search-results
Top London hotels according to Google’s search results.

Ignoring reviews or responding poorly to them can be detrimental to a business, as it will miss out on a great opportunity to improve search presence and visibility. Therefore, businesses should always strive to respond to reviews, even if they are negative, to maximize the benefits of SEO optimization.

For more information, read this article: How to SEO Optimize Your Review Responses

Why should restaurants respond to negative online reviews?

Restaurants should respond to negative reviews for three key reasons. Firstly, responding to negative feedback helps protect the restaurant's online reputation and maintain customer trust. Potential diners heavily rely on online reviews, and even one negative review can deter them from choosing a restaurant. Secondly, engaging with negative feedback demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and builds trust within the community. Consumers now place more trust in authentic consumer experiences shared on public platforms rather than traditional expert reviews. Lastly, responding to reviews positively impacts local search engine rankings, which is crucial in today's digital age, where most dining research is conducted on mobile devices. Reviews and responses are valuable online content that search engines consider, helping restaurants enhance their online visibility and attract more potential customers.

Addressing negative reviews is essential for restaurants as it mitigates negative impacts, builds trust with the community, and improves local SEO, ultimately contributing to their success in the competitive restaurant industry. To learn more about this, read Why should restaurants respond to bad reviews?

screenshot tripadvisor negative restaurant review with response
Sample of a negative Tripadvisor restaurant review with a response.

How should restaurants respond to negative reviews?

When responding to negative reviews, restaurants should follow several best practices to handle the situation effectively.

Maintaining a fast response time is crucial, as promptness demonstrates the restaurant's commitment to addressing customer concerns. Apologizing and empathizing with dissatisfied customers is essential, especially when the negative reviews are related to customer service issues. Responding with a positive and professional tone showcases the restaurant's dedication to customer satisfaction.

Personalization is vital, and restaurants should avoid using generic response templates to ensure sincerity and authenticity in their replies. Offering a practical solution to rectify the situation is recommended, though restaurants should avoid offering discounts or gifts publicly, as it may be seen as compensation for positive reviews. Encouraging private communication allows the restaurant to address sensitive concerns more personally.

Moreover, restaurants should also remember to respond to reviews on local listings, as these platforms can significantly impact local customer reach. By following these best practices, restaurants can effectively handle negative reviews, demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction, and maintain a positive online reputation.

To learn more about this, read our complete article: Responding to Negative Restaurant Reviews: How to Protect Your Reputation

Final thoughts

Managing your online reviews is crucial for maintaining a positive online presence and attracting potential customers. Responding to both positive and negative reviews in a timely, personalized, and professional manner can enhance customer trust, improve SEO rankings, and ultimately increase bookings. Utilizing tools such as review management platforms and AI Review Reply Assistants can streamline the process and save time. Always remember to adhere to best practices when responding to reviews and consider using templates to maintain consistency across responses. By actively managing your online reviews, you can build a strong online reputation that will benefit your business in the long run.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the importance of managing online reviews?

Effective management of online reviews is crucial for establishing and maintaining a positive online reputation, which is at the core of every successful business in today's digital-driven world. With 84% of consumers preferring customer reviews over advertisements, it is imperative to have a well-executed review management strategy that not only includes responding to reviews in a timely and personalized manner but also entails selecting the best review platform for your business, optimizing your profile, analyzing content, promoting positive reviews, mitigating the effects of negative reviews, and more. Failure to have a robust review management process in place can lead to wastage of time and resources that could have been directed towards improving the business. Therefore, a well-planned review management strategy is essential to ensure the long-term success of any business.

What is good review management software?

Good review management software can help hoteliers to actively manage their online reputation and reviews across booking platforms. Features often include a centralized review inbox to quickly access and respond to customer reviews in real-time, analytics dashboards powered by artificial intelligence to extract topics such as location, cleanliness, and staff friendliness, competitor analytics to gain insights into the competitive landscape, templating to save time responding to reviews, guest satisfaction surveys to collect feedback, review widgets to publish positive reviews, and ticket routing to assign tasks and track progress. Some of the top online reputation management tools include Customer Alliance, ReviewPro, TrustYou, Revinate, and GuestRevu.

What is the best way to build up online reviews?

Business who want to gather more online reviews, first need to decide which platform they want to focus on, such as Google, Booking, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, or other industry-specific review sites. Once the platform is chosen, businesses should encourage customers to leave reviews by providing them with an easy way to do so. This can include providing a direct link to their review page, or asking customers to leave a review in exchange for a discount or other reward. Businesses should also make sure to respond to any reviews they receive, both positive and negative. Responding to reviews shows customers that the business values their feedback and is willing to work to improve their services. Finally, businesses should be sure to share their reviews on social media and other platforms to spread the word and increase their visibility.

What is online review monitoring?

Online review monitoring is the process of closely monitoring customer reviews from different online sources to maintain a positive online reputation. Online Reputation Management (ORM) tools provide a central location to easily access and manage customer reviews from various online sources, such as Google, Booking, Tripadvisor and Expedia. ORM tools typically have a review inbox feature which allows businesses to quickly address negative reviews and take proactive steps to maintain a positive online reputation. This helps businesses increase their response rates and handle customer reviews in real time. ORM tools also have analytics features to monitor customer sentiment and gain insights into the competitive landscape. Additionally, they offer templating, guest satisfaction surveys and review widgets to help increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat business. By closely monitoring customer reviews, ORM tools help businesses stay ahead of the competition, identify areas of improvement and develop a successful marketing strategy.

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