How do most travelers make up their mind when booking a hotel stay? They check reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Booking.com, and Facebook.
According to a 2014 study made by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright, 77% of travelers reference reviews before choosing a hotel. 80% read 6-12 reviews and 73% look at photos by other travelers before booking a room.
Most hotels are concerned about online Hotel Reputation Management. But do you know exactly how you should respond to online reviews?
Why it’s important to respond to online reviews the right way.
For hotels, it’s incredibly important to reply to online reviews. According to the TripAdvisor study, 62% of travelers say that management responses to reviews make them more likely to book a stay at a hotel.
But you also need to reply to them in the right way. Particularly, 87% of travelers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.
87% of travelers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.
In any case, when replying to online reviews, remember that online is forever.
Not replying at all or replying in the wrong way could hurt your brand and business. Ultimately, a bad review can spread and cause severe damage to the reputation of your hotel.
Besides, responding to reviews is an excellent opportunity to respond in a way that builds your brand. You can do this by highlighting what your hotel stands for and show some personality.
How to properly respond to online reviews
Bad reviews can feel like a personal insult, especially if you’re a small family-owned hotel. However, it’s crucial that you put your ego aside when responding to reviews.
Ignoring or lashing out at unhappy visitors is never a good idea.
This also applies to situations where you suspect that the review is false.
According to the TripAdvisor study, 70% of travelers are less likely to book a hotel with aggressive and defensive replies to reviews.
70% of travelers are less likely to book a hotel with aggressive and defensive replies to reviews.
The question is: how do you properly respond to online hotel reviews?
First things first:
You need to have a game plan in place.
That way, you always know how to handle reviews and you’re consistent when replying to them.
When you respond, remember that your customers are not looking for perfection. In fact, consumers are suspicious of businesses with nothing but five-star ratings.
Instead of exclusively relying on star reviews, they look at the content of the reviews.
If your business comes off as personable, relatable, polite, professional and nice, potential visitors will notice this. At least to some extent, your reply will help them form a positive image of your hotel.
How to reply to positive reviews
Replying to positive reviews should be easy, right? Occasionally, hotels and other businesses get this wrong.
When responding to a positive review, you should only thank them for their review.
Don’t make a follow-up offer, give them a gift or anything else. Ultimately, you might annoy your already happy customers or come off as trying to bribe them.
Here’s a good example of how you should respond to a positive review:
The hotel representative simply thanks the guest for the review and welcomes him or her back.
How to reply to negative reviews
When you respond to negative reviews, you want to be extremely careful with your reply.
Your customer is already disappointed and by responding in a way that makes you seem rude or disinterested, the situation can escalate from bad to disastrous.
Keep your reply simple:
Thank your customer for the review and for the business. Be as specific as you can about the customer’s experience. Include changes that you’ve implemented after receiving the feedback.
For example, if a wedding was held at your hotel and a guest complains about dust in his or her room, you could thank the guest for staying at your hotel and for the feedback. Then, congratulate the newlyweds, compliment their beautiful wedding and let the customer know that you’ve taken action on his or her review and put in extra effort to ensure that the rooms are clean.
To illustrate the difference between a good and a bad reply to a review, let’s take an extreme example: bed bugs.
Few negative reviews can turn off visitors as easily as a review complaining about bed bugs.
So how do you respond to these reviews in a way that at least helps win back future visitors’ trust?
Let’s take an example of a bad response:
Notice how the hotel representative questions the guest’s review and experience?
This is something you don’t want to put out there, even if you suspect that the review is false. Chances are that other customers won’t trust that you take the problem very seriously.
On the other hand, here’s a reply that you want to use for your own hotel:
Not only does the hotel representative profoundly apologize for the guest’s experience, he also explains the measures the hotel takes to prevent similar situations. He then offers the guest a complimentary stay. Note that you don’t have to – and shouldn’t – offer gifts for all bad reviews. But for issues as serious as bed bugs, it’s a good way of showing that your hotel cares about its guests.
Online hotel reviews are of major importance when hotel visitors book their stay.
When you get feedback, you should always respond in a manner that shows that you’re personable and that you’re there for your guests. Instead of taking feedback personally, consider what you can learn from it. After all, feedback is invaluable to any business.
The next time you get negative feedback, think about this: how can you use the feedback to help your guests have the best possible stay at your hotel?
Want to learn more about how to respond appropriately to online reviews?
Check out these resources to understand how you can best serve your customers:
Proper customer service
- 6 Keys to Improving Your Team’s Customer Service Skills
- How to Deliver Great Customer Service
- 4 Examples of Excellent Customer Service on Facebook
- How to Offer Great Customer Service with Social Media
Crisis and reputation management
- 5 Steps to Help Manage Your Brand Through a Crisis
- 10 Tips for Reputation and Crisis Management in The Digital World
- 4 Brand-Saving Recommendations for Social Media Crisis Management