thumbs up and thumbs down reflecting importance of online reputation derived from guest feedback

The hospitality industry made a number of adjustments over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

NB: This is an article from Travel Media Group

We’re not out of the woods yet, either – even as travel numbers continue to trend in a positive direction, hotels still have to make continuous adaptations to stay afloat. Hoteliers nationwide are aware that travelers are keener than ever, especially when it comes to their health and safety. Hotels, as a result, need to encourage guests to leave as much feedback as possible to continue to improve and maintain their reputation.

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Maintaining your hotel’s reputation is a consistent, concentrated effort that directly impacts your revenue. By understanding the importance of guest feedback, you can develop a plan to earn more positive reviews in 2021.

First Impressions from Feedback

hotel service bell at front desk

One thing that hoteliers learned about travelers coming out of lockdown is that they trust word of mouth, sometimes above all else. When guests are comparing two or more hotels for their vacation and pull them up side by side, it’s the star rating that they’ll notice first. Reviews directly influence this number, so guests may dive into these even before they know the rest of the details about your hotel.

What are your potential guests looking for when they sift through reviews? Researchers on Trustpilot state that reviews offer “simple, relevant guidance” to those seeking shared experiences. “Decisions…can be difficult and tiresome,” they write, and with experiential purchases like travel and entertainment on the rise again, reviews that are rooted in experience hold significantly more weight.

Experience-based reviews are even more significant during COVID-19, where travelers still in the research phase of their journey want to know the status of your hotel’s restrictions or how your past guests felt about your cleanliness policies. From the experiences of others, guests form a first impression about your property, which sticks with them throughout the rest of their researching process.

How Feedback Translates to Booking Confidence

young smiling asian man relaxing using laptop and smiling at phone

Another way feedback influences travelers in 2021 is by giving them the confidence to book with you. Travelers develop their first impression of your hotel by looking at your overall star rating and skimming details, but as they continue along their journey to book, they’ll start reading recent reviews more carefully.

As a result, any review left without a response may negatively affect your reputation. Negative reviews that have no response will leave potential guests wondering if a situation went unresolved – did you address the cleanliness concerned mentioned in that guest review? Was there an issue with the staff that was resolved? Responding to negative feedback is a delicate but necessary process to leave future guests feeling confident in their booking decision.

This is the same for positive feedback – you may not feel the need to respond to glowing reviews of your property, but they are immensely helpful. You can use space in your response to advertise amenities, reinforce policies, and most importantly, express appreciation to those who are staying at your hotel.

Through review response, you re-shape travelers’ expectations of your hotel to be as accurate as possible to the experience you deliver. Your responses reinforce positive experiences and assuage negative feedback, and they’ll feel more inspired to book with you over a competitor who doesn’t respond at all.

Going Beyond Review Response

man and his girlfriend standing together taking a selfie

While online reviews and review responses are crucial components that influence your hotel’s reputation, there are other equally important factors you should keep in mind. Social media, for example, is an integral part of a traveler’s dreaming and research phase.

Travelers expect hotels to have professional Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter profiles that they can access easily. In some cases, travelers may forward their questions to these profiles instead of through a contact form or email. Direct messages should never go unaddressed – not responding can turn potential guests away from your hotel entirely. Aside from leaving their question unanswered, a missed DM can feel as unprofessional as an unanswered email, which further impacts that guest’s impression of you.

Social media can also be a tool for you to boost awareness of how potential travelers feel about visiting your area or your hotel specifically. You can gain valuable insights on trends and expectations within the industry, which can help you plan operational improvements.

Read more articles from Travel Media Group