Fewer Review Responses Linked to Lower Average Ratings
This is an excerpt of our 2014 Hotel Reputation Benchmark Report, which is designed to provide benchmarking guidelines for hoteliers, so they can assess and improve their own performances.
Industry benchmarks are an important tool for hotels to compare their performance to their competitors’ and to identify improvements that will have the most impact. With 24,000 hotel customers in 160 countries, Revinate has amassed a lot of data about online reviews.
Revinate performed a deep dive into its online review data and analyzed more than 20 million reviews from 80,000 properties in 125 countries. These reviews were published on more than 100 online review sites and OTAs between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
Average Review Score
- The global average rating is 4.04 stars with the highest in LATAM (4.14) and the lowest in North America (3.96).
- In 2014, Asia had the biggest improvement of .7%, while Middle East and Africa had the biggest drop of .7%.
Regional Reviews, Response Rate, and Average Review Score
Now, let’s look at these regional Average Review Score numbers in the context of volume and response rate.
We already talked about the changes in average review score in 2014:
- In LATAM, ME & Africa, and Europe, average rating went down.
- In North America and Oceania, average rating remained unchanged.
- In Asia and on a global level, the average rating increased slightly.
But, you’ll also notice:
- In LATAM, ME & Africa, and Europe, the change in proportion of review responses is less than the change in total number of reviews.
- In North America and Oceania, the change in proportion of review responses is greater than the change in total number of reviews.
- In Asia and on a global scale, the average rating increased slightly, despite the fact that the increase in the proportion of review responses was lower than the increase in proportion of total number of reviews.
With this information on changes in average review scores, review responses, and review volume, we’ve formed a hypothesis on review responses and review scores. For the most part:
When hoteliers respond less often to their online reviews, they tend to have lower review scores.
For the most part, when the change in review responses is less than the change in total number of reviews, this has a negative correlation with average review rating. When the change in review responses is greater than the change in total reviews, there was no appreciable change in average review rating.
However, this does not seem to be true in Asia and on a global scale. Despite the failure of the hotelier response increase to keep pace with the increase in review volume, the average rating in Asia and globally is trending upward.
The bottom line? It can hurt your hotel if you don’t respond to enough of your online reviews. This is not to say that a lack of review responses directly causes lower review scores, but rather that the two tend to happen at the same time. Hoteliers that care about their guest feedback and take an interest in managing their online reputations are likely to have higher average review scores. A higher overall review volume plus insufficient rates of response to reviews in 2014 suggest that hotels should dedicate extra resources to guest feedback management, analysis, and operationalization in 2015.
By responding to reviews, you send the message to former guests and prospective customers that your hotel aims to provide the perfect guest experience. When the guest’s stay isn’t perfect, you want reviewers and prospective guests alike to feel reassured that your establishment will do everything in its power to make the situation right. You also want reviewers and prospective guests to feel that their feedback matters to you, and that when guests consistently complain about a certain aspect of the hotel, your team will make the changes necessary to improve the guest experience. When the stay exceeds all expectations, you want former guests and potential customers to know that you are delighted that your guests had a great experience and would be happy to repeat the performance upon return to the hotel. Responding to online reviews is an important part of developing and maintaining relationships with past and future guests.