How Reviews Help Improve the Hotel Experience
Most hoteliers and property owners have a love-hate relationship with online reviews. Some reviews are fair and just, while others are purposefully hurtful, or even worse, fake. In Cloudbeds’ opinion, we believe that reviews are a unique opportunity for hotels to improve the hotel experience they provide to guests. Reviews, both negative and positive, can help identify actionable changes for your property. Use your hotel’s reviews to your advantage and find ways to elevate your guest’s experience.
Find Unidentified Positives and Negatives
People often turn to online review platforms when they’re either super pleased or generally aggravated about a hotel experience. While you probably prefer the former, it’s the negative and mediocre reviews that can help identify recurring problems you may not have known about. There are some problems that can’t always be controlled, like street noise or a loud guest who ends up disturbing others.
However, you should use reviews to look for chronic problems. Service, cleanliness, and amenities are among the top mentioned items we notice when we look at reviews. Reading them, you can walk away with an actionable list of things to improve--many which may be easy fixes.
Your property’s “product” is a combination of many different parts that are constantly moving. Your staff, rooms, amenities, and beyond all influence the hotel experience. Whether you operate a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast, or inn, all of these elements make a difference.
When you take the time to analyze your reviews on a regular basis, you can identify issues as they present themselves. One of the best ways to mitigate bad reviews is to manage expectations. For example, if there’s nearby construction, you can either warn guests or move them to a part of your property that is less affected. Or, if guests start to mention that your rooms are rundown or lack certain amenities, you can address their concerns immediately or make a plan to do so.
Beyond the Star Ratings
It may go without saying, but star or other numerical ratings aren’t always accurate. Before user-generated reviews were popular, star ratings were only awarded by journalists at professional travel companies. These star ratings came with specific criteria for each star. But, the star ratings you find on sites like TripAdvisor or Google don’t come with distinct criteria. One person’s two star hotel experience is another person’s four or five star.
We tell our clients to go beyond the star ratings and find the sentiment behind their reviews. Of course, a high star rating is important because it influences rankings on sites like TripAdvisor.
But, if you want to use reviews to their full potential to positively affect the service you’re providing your guests, then it may take a few extra steps.
The basics of a sentiment analysis include first taking a sample of your reviews and then combing through each one. After you compile your reviews, look for mentions of distinct features or amenities like service, pool, food, employees, etc. Then categorize each mention as positive, negative, or neutral. You can then attach a numerical score to each individual attribute mentioned. We walk through how to perform a simple sentiment analysis in a post on our blog here.
The purpose of this exercise is to identify the real positives and negatives. A guest may leave a two star review, even though they were generally happy except for one reason. The analysis gives you the opportunity to figure out what elements made a guest’s experience positive or negative.
The ultimate goal is to identify where you can improve the experience you provide to your guests, and a sentiment analysis helps uncover hidden truths.
Finding Ways to Improve the Hotel Experience
After taking a look at your reviews and tracking trends over time, you can use your new insights to improve the hotel experience. You can also use reviews in other ways, too.
Positive reviews can be repurposed several different ways. They can be used as social validation on your website in order to convince new guests to book. You can use them to reward employees who have gone above and beyond, and then have other team members mimic their behavior.
Negative reviews can be used to identify risks and areas for improvement. You can’t fix all issues overnight or at all for that matter. If you receive several reviews about loud noise, but you’re located on a busy street above a bar, there’s little you can do then better inform guests of what to expect. Managing expectations has a huge influence over guest reviews. Your reviews should influence both what you should continue to do, what needs to change, and what you can do to better prepare potential guests.
No matter how you feel about online reviews, they are an unfiltered way for you to gauge your guests’ experiences. Whether they are biased or not is a different story, but with time and effort you can uncover how to improve your guest’s experience. Online reviews have a lasting impact on your property’s web presence, so it’s important to closely monitor them. Use your reviews to your advantage and in turn make your guests happier.
Cloudbeds offers a full suite of products that help hoteliers run their businesses. From our world-class property management system to our direct booking engine, our goal is to help owners and operators maximize their time and effort. We also produce myallocator, one of the leading channel managers for all types of properties.
Cloudbeds and TrustYou
Cloudbeds has partnered with TrustYou to give hoteliers an additional level of support on their journey to a better hotel reputation. TrustYou’s reputation management system will operate within Cloudbeds myfrontdesk to help hoteliers collect reviews and improve their scores and rankings on Google.