responding to reviews from guests

Online reviews provide hotels with the unique opportunity to address guests, manage their online presence, and improve booking or revenue goals by speaking directly to their customers.

NB: This is an article from Cvent

In this post, we take a deep dive into the importance of guest feedback and explore how to respond to hotel reviews.

There are some regularly repeating questions hotel management and sales teams seem to ask when it comes to online reviews and how to respond to them. We address the most commonly asked questions to provide you with a comprehensive instructional resource, complete with examples and real-life scenarios. 

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The hospitality industry is incredibly competitive. If you want travellers to choose to stay with you instead of hotels in your comp set, it’s important that you understand how they feel and cater to what they want. Reviews are the perfect opportunity to see what your guests really think and for previous guests to communicate their experience to future travellers.

Why are hotel reviews important to potential guests?

All guest stays are unique to their expectations and experience. While travel plans and accommodation requirements may vary from one guest to another, there are a few major reasons that online guest reviews have such a large impact on a traveller’s decisions. 

  • Potential future guests can hear about the experience of other travellers first-hand. Was the staff friendly? Was the food good? With the power of internet anonymity, you never know what you may learn from a previous guest.
  • Future guests can receive honest feedback from others without worrying that information is being misrepresented to attract their business.
  • Guests are able to post and review real-time photos of the property. Professional photography is a must-have for hotel marketing purposes, but travellers want to see the unedited version — without Photoshop, cropping, or saturation and exposure edits.
  • Many travellers read online reviews to get tips from other travellers regarding available F&B at the property, local attractions, tips on what to bring, and even room type recommendations.
  • The trust travellers have for first-hand reviews plays a large role in which properties they may choose to stay with. In fact, 81% of people “always or frequently” read online reviews before booking overnight accommodations.

How can hotels benefit from reading and responding to reviews?

As beneficial as reviews are for travellers, they are an invaluable resource for hotels and hotel managers as well. Here’s why. 

  • Hotel review responses directly correlate to hotel revenue increases. In fact, properties that respond to at least 65% of their reviews average a TripAdvisor rating of 4.15.
  • Online reviews give hoteliers a unique opportunity to see their property through the eyes of a guest and analyse customer feedback.
  • In addition to getting feedback on the state of your property, reviews can provide managers a direct look into guest interactions with staff — the good and the bad.
  • Reviews can help hotels identify opportunities for improvement in all areas: cleanliness, food and beverage services, and even employee training needs.

The reviews that your hotel receives, and the responses you provide, are a vital component of your online presence. Reviews and their responses can influence the appeal of your property, assumptions about service, and directly drive new business to your property.

Why is responding to online reviews important for hotels?

The benefits that reviews can provide hotels are almost endless, but there are a few key reasons why responding to hotel reviews should also be a priority for management.

  • When team leaders respond to criticism with thoughtful and motivated responses, or show gratitude for guest appreciation, they’re setting a tone for the expected service level at the property. When future travellers see that the staff is engaged and responsive, they’re more likely to trust that any needs that arise during their stay will be met.
  • Constructive hotel responses that demonstrate proactivity appeal to travellers. When managers acknowledge guest issues, maintenance concerns, or other complaints, and make a commitment to improvement, it demonstrates integrity and reliability.
  • Responses give team leaders the option to invite unhappy guests to contact them for a personal one-on-one follow-up. When speaking with a guest directly, the guest is more likely to open up about the issues they experienced, giving you a chance to commit to making their next stay better. This builds customer loyalty.
  • Review responses will set you apart from other properties. Only 36% of hotels respond to reviews on booking sites, and you should always be aiming to set yourself apart from your comp set.

How should hotels respond to positive reviews?

Today’s travellers are savvy and are accustomed to having generic content thrown in their faces all day, every day. They can smell a cookie-cutter template response from a mile away. Follow these tips to provide authentic responses and get the most out of the free marketing that accompanies hotel responses.

  • To personalise your response, address the reviewer by name or screen name.
  • Add a signature line to your response. Your signature could designate a specific manager or the “guest service staff” based on your individual preference.
  • Using “we” statements in positive review responses demonstrates a sense of community within the hotel. “I’ responses may be more beneficial when responding to negative reviews, as they demonstrate personal accountability and commitment to improvement.
    • “We are thrilled that you enjoyed your time with us.”
    • “I am sorry to hear that your stay did not meet your expectations. I would like to invite you to contact me to discuss…”

While it isn’t necessary to respond to every positive review, positive responses should still be personalised, genuine, and reflective of the guest’s experience.

How should hotels respond to negative reviews?

Be courteous, professional, and show empathy. If a guest is taking the time to write a negative review of their experience, it’s because they want to be heard.

Acknowledge their experience, take responsibility for any issues that arose, and invite the guest to contact the property directly to discuss their stay in more detail. This helps create a personal bond with the guest, shows them that you’re not afraid of accountability, and opens the door for future, improved interactions. A follow-up phone call or face-to-face conversation with an unhappy traveller can turn them into a “best guest” overnight.

Read rest of the article at Cvent