What Happened When a Reluctant Mid-Scale Hotel Group Started Responding to Reviews?

Prior to October, 2016, a mid-scale 7-property hotel group refrained from publicly responding to TripAdvisor reviews. But in October of 2016 management, after seeing the overwhelming data about the benefits of responding to reviews, created an initiative to respond to reviews and closely monitor the results. Now, three years later, we see definitive proof that responding to reviews can positively impact review volume, review rating and TripAdvisor popularity index ranking.

Review Volume

A 2016 study finds that hotels that respond to reviews see a 12% increase in review volume.

Prior to responding to reviews, the average review volume for the 7-property group was 877 per month. In November, 2016 the group started to respond to reviews. Over the next three years, on average the group responded to more than half of 1-, 2- and 3-star reviews and about 25% of positive reviews. In August and September of 2018, the group suddenly stopped responding to reviews. What happened? For the following two months, review volume dropped indicating that volume is affected by the previous month’s review response coverage. Despite the dip, the average review volume today is 1356, or an increase of 65% from 2016.

Review Rating

According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review study, when hotels start responding to reviews, their ratings increase, on average, by 0.12 stars.

While not as dramatic, the property group’s average rating increased slightly when properties started responding to reviews. In fact, in the first full twelve months that hotels responded to reviews, the average review score didn’t dip below four stars.

It is only when they stopped responding to reviews for a two-month period in 2018 that they saw a significant dip in ratings.

TripAdvisor Popularity Ranking

“Encourage guests to write reviews because having more reviews is better for your Popularity Ranking.” – TripAdvisor

There are three primary factors that impact a hotel’s Popularity Ranking on TripAdvisor: quantity of reviews, quality of reviews and recency of reviews. Because responding to reviews encourages new reviews, it’s no surprise that when the property group began responding to reviews they saw an improvement in almost all the hotels’ ranking. One hotel went from 18 to 9. Another hotel went from 11 to 7.  And a third hotel went from 5 to 2. Three hotels maintained their #1 ranking over the three year period. One hotel, in a particularly small market, dropped from 2 to 3 from 2016 to 2017 and 2018.

Summary

While academics and researchers have been saying it for years, it’s always reassuring to be able to back up studies with real world data. Hotels should be publicly responding to reviews because it positively affects review volume, review rating and ultimately, TripAdvisor Popularity Ranking.  To learn more about our study or to find out how Revinate can help you easily manage your online reviews program, click here

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