How Replying to TripAdvisor Reviews Keeps the Four Seasons No. 1 in the City

This is a guest post contributed by Taylor Short of Software Advice.

In fewer than three years, the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin jumped 26 spots to the top of TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index, a rating system based on quantity, quality and recency of customer reviews. But how exactly did they become the highest rated hotel in the city?

With the help of Revinate, the management committed to responding to user-generated reviews–both positive and negative–with the knowledge that it entices others to write their own. General Manager Rob Hagelberg and his team use a specific messaging strategy to engage reviewers online, and the results speak for themselves.

My company, which provides research on hotel management technology, interviewed the management team to break down the best practices when responding to reviews on TripAdvisor.

Use Tracking Tools to Identify Online Reviews

About two and a half years ago, the Four Seasons Austin management noticed it dropped seven spots to the 27th rated hotel in Austin. Because studies show a high number of recent reviews can impart the most powerful sense of value for consumers, Hagelberg knew he needed a better way to monitor new mentions of the hotel across social media platforms and travel rating websites. So, he turned to Revinate.

Kerri Holden, senior director of public relations for the hotel, uses the tool to track reviews and mentions of the Austin Four Seasons on Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and other sites. It also displays the number of Facebook “likes”, Google “+1s” and new Twitter followers with percentage changes on the Revinate Scorecard.

Tracking and comparing reviews with Revinate

Holden says Revinate gives her the time to alert management when a negative review is posted to meet the 24-hour response deadline suggested by the corporate office.

“[Revinate] helps us continue to be relevant,” she says, “and shows us how we can engage our guests more.”

Other Tactics the Four Seasons Austin Uses When Responding to Reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Establish a Reasonable Deadline for Responding to Negative Reviews: To make sure negative reviews are addressed quickly, the Austin Four Season’s management responds within 24 hours of the posting date. This ensures there is minimal time in which a potential customer could see a negative review without a response.

  • Develop a Messaging Strategy and Structure for Your Response: Hagelberg’s replies to negative TripAdvisor reviews follow a distinct structure that both apologizes for disappointing the customer, and proves they are taking specific steps to rectify the problem. This structure includes (an example is given at the end of the post):

    • Thank the customer for their time writing a review

    • Acknowledge any positive comments

    • Apologize for the specific complaint or issue

    • Explain a specific, forward-looking plan of how the hotel will fix the problem

    • Invite the customer to come back

  • Add Personal Appeal to Positive Reviews: Though not a corporate requirement, Hagelberg chooses to respond to positive reviews as well, following a similar approach by starting with a thank you and adding a personal touch–wishing the reviewer a happy belated birthday. This response conveys that the hotel management is considerate of all guests.

  • Focus on Creating a Memorable Experience First: Positive reviews don’t come without hard work to make a customer’s stay as comfortable and accommodating as possible. Most positive comments about the hotel, Hagelberg says, mention an emotional connection the staff was able to establish through consideration and responsiveness to the customer. “The best tip is to think like the guest, put on their shoes, and respond positively,” he says.

 

Learn about what’s trending, review response metrics, and a look forward at hospitality reputation in our 2018 Reputation Benchmark Report. Available free for download.

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