In a digital world, not only every visitor to your hotel is a potential critic, they also have the power to reach a wide audience, and their views can have a significant impact upon your revenue. It is for this reason that the concept of managing online reviews has emerged as such an important part of any hotel reputation management strategy.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Research from TripAdvisor shows that 93 percent of people now use internet reviews to help decide which hotel to stay at, and more than half will refuse to book a hotel that does not have any reviews online. This research highlights their modern day importance and shows why hotels need to manage their reputation carefully.
With both negative reviews and an absence of reviews hurting your potential customer base, it is essential that you try to build a steady base of positive reviews across the different hotel review platforms.
Reviews and Revenue Management
The concept of revenue management system revolves around selling the right room, to the right client, at the right time, for the right price, via the right distribution channel. It stands to reason, therefore, that positive online reviews can have a favorable impact upon your revenue management strategy by increasing the demand for your rooms, leading to higher revenues. In addition, research also shows that guests are willing to pay a higher price for hotels with outstanding customer feedback.
On the other hand, poor reviews or a poor overall score on certain hotel distribution channels can impact upon your ability to sell rooms through those distribution channels, which could result in lower revenue than would otherwise be possible.
Tips For Managing Online Reviews
Below, we have compiled a list of seven useful tips to help you manage your online reviews:
- Provide a Pleasant Experience
The single best way to manage your online reviews is to do everything in your power to provide a pleasant experience for your guests. Make sure your staff are polite, deal with any complaints professionally and in a helpful manner, and ensure your rooms live up to expectations. In the most simple terms, the more happy customers you have, the more positive reviews you are likely to receive.
- Actively Seek Online Reviews
An important part of managing online reviews includes actively encouraging your guests to leave reviews in the first place. Be careful offering incentives to guests for writing a review. This can come across as buying good feedback. But a polite request or a gentle reminder can help to boost the number of reviews you receive, which will make your hotel seem more in demand, while also minimising the damage from negative reviews.
- Ask For Offline Feedback From Guests
In addition to requesting online reviews, you should also ask for as much feedback from guests as you can in general, including offline feedback. This will allow you to get a sense of the sort of things your guests are saying about your hotel, can help you to identify areas of weakness and can allow you to make changes, so that future online reviews will not bring up the same complaints or negative experiences.
- Contact Guests in Multiple Languages
One common mistake made by hotels when trying to encourage online reviews is only contacting guests in one language. In reality, most hotels have guests from all over the world stay there and it is important that their views are heard too – especially if you want to attract other guests who speak their language. Send any emails asking for feedback out in multiple languages to ensure you do not exclude large numbers of guests.
- Respond to Negative Reviews Politely
Even for the best hotels, the occasional negative review is inevitable. Most people researching your hotel will not necessarily be put off by one or two negative reviews, as long as you respond appropriately. Be friendly, avoid seeming argumentative, acknowledge any constructive feedback and if you disagree with aspects of the review, address them calmly, without dismissing the issues raised outright.
- Give Positive Reviews a Response Too
In many cases, hotels spend too much time responding to criticism and not enough time acknowledging the people who have made the effort to leave positive feedback. Where possible, try to respond to as much positive feedback as you can as well. People who see that you take the time to do this may be more likely to leave positive comments themselves, because they know their words will be read and appreciated.
- Analyse Your Online Reviews
Finally, it is essential that you look at your online reviews regularly and analyse them. Keep track of the ratio of positive to negative reviews and make it your mission to improve this ratio. Look for words that come up the most often and consider what message is being sent out about your hotel. If there are certain negative words that are repeated, it is probably worth considering taking some action to make changes.
In the modern, digital world, online reviews are an important consideration for any hotel reputation management strategy. Negative reviews can damage your ability to sell rooms and make money, but there are steps that can be taken to manage the online response to your hotel, in order to maximise positive feedback and minimise the damage caused by any negative reviews. By following the eight tips above, you should be able to achieve this.
Martijn Barten has over 10 years of experience in developing, implementing and managing revenue management processes and strategies for individual properties and multi-properties. Martijn is specialised in optimising revenue by combining revenue management with marketing and sales strategies. Currently, he is working as a freelance revenue manager on several projects in the field of revenue management, online distribution and marketing strategies for hotel and resort companies. His expertise also translates well to other industries such as car rental companies, theatres and OTA’s. Have a look at his website Revfine.com for more information and practical revenue management tips.