The other day I spoke with a journalist from the USA Today who is writing a story about TripAdvisor’s influence on consumer travel. She had already spoken to many consumers who say they throw out the overly positive and the overly negative reviews and focus on the rest. Given this fact, she asked us how consumers can differentiate among the hotels. What should they be looking for in reviews to find a good hotel?
In my opinion, consumers should be looking for management responses to reviews. A hotel that takes the time to respond to reviews is clearly customer focused and cares about the guests’ experiences. With so few hotels taking the time to respond to reviews, I think it’s an excellent way to shine and differentiate your hotel from the masses.
For those that wonder whether responding to reviews leads to sales, here’s a review on TripAdvisor that clearly shows that review responses can lead to bookings. Daphne Bernstein writes, “I travel to Chicago on business frequently and have stayed at several Marriott properties in the area. I really like the Blackstone, but decided to stay at the Courtyard for this stay for one reason – I was very impressed that the marketing director took the time to comment on each TripAdvisor review. Once I got to the hotel, I found the service to be exceptional in all areas.”
Many hotels wonder which reviews to respond to. I am a firm believer in responding to all negative reviews. Responding to a negative review allows you to show the world, not just the reviewer, that his/her experience was an anomaly and you have noted the problem and will take care of it. Do people read review responses? Yes! In fact, a spokeswoman for TripAdvisor, Amelie Hurst, says there is anecdotal evidence that a hotel’s handling of a negative review can have a greater impact on travelers’ impressions than the review itself.
Should you also respond to positive reviews? Yes. I think you should respond to as many as you can as long as you can personalize the response so it doesn’t sound canned or trite. Take the time to thank people for their feedback and for choosing your hotel. Let them know that their kind words will be shared with the staff. Pull out something from the review to highlight. For example, “I’m so happy you loved the concierge’s recommendation for dinner. John has been with us for ten years and knows all the gems in the city.”
If you’re not yet responding to management reviews, perhaps now is the time to start. If you need some help getting started, take a look at our Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums for ideas.