Management Replies, Part I: Are You Responding to Your Customers?
Every day, millions of travelers check out of their hotels and head home from a trip. Many write reviews about their experiences, and most hotels miss a valuable opportunity by failing to respond.
Guests write online reviews to make their opinions heard, but how can a guest feel heard without receiving a response? What message does this send to the reviewer and others reading reviews online? Certainly if the interaction were face-to-face rather than online, hotels would respond. Feedback on social media and review platforms should be no different, yet many hotels still choose not to reply.
So how many hotels are responding to online reviews?
The talkative 32%
This small percentage of responders is doing something right. Responding to guests is one of the simplest ways to increase customer satisfaction and drive loyalty once a guest has left the hotel. On social platforms and review sites, management responses also sway purchasing decisions of potential future guests. While reading reviews during pre-purchase research, nearly 70% of travelers would choose a hotel with management responses over a comparable hotel without.
The silent 68%
Why are there so many non-responders? We hear many excuses for failing to reply to guests’ reviews. Here are quick, simple solutions to three of the most common refrains.
“It is too time consuming…”
Rather than having to log in to each review site separately, reputation management tools cut down the time it takes to reply because all reviews are accessible on one platform. These dashboards also alert hoteliers of new reviews and allow tasks to be assigned to peers so that one employee is not solely responsible for replying.
Without a reputation management tool, hoteliers should choose 3-5 platforms that matter most to their business and dedicate some time every day to read and respond to guests on those platforms.
“It is so awkward…”
Perhaps writing a response feels odd at first. It will get easier, and the benefits to responding far outweigh the awkwardness. To get started, write responses that are polite, genuine and friendly. When responding to negative reviews, focus on giving a solution to the problem rather than getting defensive. For positive reviews, thank guests for their visit and let them know how much you look forward to welcoming them back.
“I don’t agree with the customer’s complaint…”
Remember the saying “the customer is always right”? As long as the customer’s complaint isn’t too severe, hoteliers should swallow their pride and apologize. If the customer is alleging something serious, respond and set up time to discuss the issue offline in more detail.
Still not convinced? Don’t miss our blog next week to learn how replies increase key performance metrics like hotel scores and rankings!