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“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes,” Age of Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire famously said.
If your hotel has received unfavorable online reviews, you know exactly what he meant: Years of reputation-building can be toppled by negative comments online.
But, the reality today is you can’t run a business without customers providing online ratings or comments. And, as a hotelier, you know that hiding from troubling commentary won’t do much good in this century, in a time of freewheeling online opinion. In fact, this feedback can actually be used to your benefit, with the right strategy.
Here are three quick tips to help you develop your strategy for handling online feedback.
1. Respond appropriately
What if you get a negative review online? We have an entire guide devoted to handling your response, but here’s the gist of it: You should absolutely respond to all negative reviews, and do so in a way that is brief, professional, thankful for the feedback, and factual.
You should also offer an invitation to your unhappy guest to contact you offline. An offline, direct conversation may help you recover the guest. And, at the very least, by replying publicly and showing the unhappy guest that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make things right, you can also have a positive influence on any prospective guests who see the review. According to TripAdvisor, 79% of consumers feel reassured when they see a management response to a bad review.
Whatever the situation, don’t be combative, don’t make excuses, and be sure to give your guests the impression that their opinions matter to you.
2. Ask for more reviews
Your hotel’s placement on the TripAdvisor Popularity Index, as well as other review site rankings, is affected by the volume and frequency of reviews that your hotel receives on that site. Additionally, 53% of travelers say that they will not book a hotel that doesn’t have any reviews, according to a 2013 TripAdvisor study. So, it can benefit your hotel’s online reputation (and by proxy, your visibility on review sites) to prioritize driving a greater volume of online reviews.
The best way to do that? Ask! We’ve seen some hotels verbally encourage guests to write a review at check out. There’s also a way to do this digitally. Revinate customers can send guests an email asking for feedback shortly after checkout. These hotels also have the option to automatically submit this feedback for publication on TripAdvisor. Those that do so have seen an average of 409% increase in TripAdvisor review volume, and 15% increase in ranking on TripAdvisor.
3. Analyze your data
Ultimately, online reviews are a great way to get a picture of what your guests expect from your hotel. A sentiment analysis solution can automatically analyze your feedback for data trends. You can see what your guests are consistently praising, and consistently complaining about, which is a huge benefit to both your operations and marketing teams. Your marketing team can get intelligence on what guests really like about the property, and use that information to develop marketing campaigns that emphasize those features. Your ops team can prioritize the things your guests like, and put resources into improving things that they’re consistently complaining about.
For example, this Revinate customer had no idea that the hotel had a problem with noise, until it analyzed its feedback with sentiment analysis technology. Guests were consistently complaining about traffic noise. So, the hotel invested in soundproof windows. Now, guests no longer complain about noise, and the hotel’s ratings have improved as a result.