How to Respond to Guest Reviews: A Hotelier’s In-Depth Guide
Your complete guide on how to respond to positive, neutral, and negative guest reviews with examples, a template response structure, and lots of data.
Table of Contents
- Why Respond to Guest Reviews?
- Things to Consider When Responding to Guest Reviews
- Prioritize Your Response: What Reviews Should You Reply to and When
- Respond to Negative Reviews: 6 Examples
- Respond to Neutral Reviews: 4 Examples
- Respond to Positive Reviews: 6 Examples
- Google, Booking.com, TripAdvisor - Guides & Policies to Follow When Responding to Reviews
- How TrustYou Can Help
- Go Beyond Response Rate to Improve Online Reputation
Why Respond to Guest Reviews?
How many guests choose to stay at your property based on the reviews they read on Google, TripAdvisor, or Booking.com?
Nowadays, we can’t imagine making a buying or booking decision before reading reviews, watching an expert opinion on YouTube, or just researching more about the product or service we are interested in.
For the hospitality industry, reviews are essential from the booking process to the post-stay survey. “Where should I stay?” and “Why should I stay there?” are usually the questions that come to mind after choosing the travel destination.
A TrustYou study shows that a crashing majority of us - more than 9 out of 10 people - read travel reviews prior to booking.
69% of leisure travelers and 72% of business travelers rated reviews and consumer opinions posted online as extremely important in their booking decision when choosing a hotel.
We believe that responding to guest reviews is what differentiates a hotel that is truly focused on its customers from an average one. Being responsive to guest feedback comes with many benefits for hotels. Here are some examples:
- Your chances of influencing a booking decision increase.
Our own data shows that replying to more reviews has a positive impact on direct bookings and revenue. Google has also confirmed that responding to reviews improves your business’s local SEO, making you more visible to staycationers or those looking to host an event at your property.
- You increase the chances of your guests booking a return stay.
- You prove to your guests that their experience and well-being are important to you.
- You receive more reviews, therefore, collecting data helps your staff and potential guests have an accurate overview of how you are perceived externally and what you have to offer.
Hotels that are responding to guest reviews receive 12% more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars on a 1-to-5 scale.
- You are staying ahead of your competition.
Our research shows that on average, 4 out of 10 reviews receive a reply. This is based on the reviews that can be responded to, excluding all sources that do not allow for responses. When looking at the data we noticed that some of the reviews received a reply even a couple of months after they were published. This is another way of differentiating yourself from your competitors - by replying promptly to your guest reviews.
Things to Consider When Responding to Guest Reviews
You just received a new review from one of your guests. Now what? How do you make sure that you’re crafting your answer in a way that benefits your hotel and also your guest? Here are some important tips to keep in mind when responding to reviews:
- Be kind, professional, and genuine
- Respond as soon as possible
- Personalize your response whenever possible
- Thank the guest for their feedback
- Whether it is a greeting, or you go the extra mile and answer to your reviews in a different language, make sure your international guests feel special. Use some key phrases in their own language if possible.
- Give credit to the staff, especially if someone is specifically mentioned
- Be creative and find different ways to express yourself
- Invite the guest back for another visit
We’ve also created an easy-to-follow response structure to guest reviews:
Open with a personal thank you
No matter what type of review you are faced with - positive, neutral, or negative - thank your guests for taking the time to offer feedback.
Acknowledge and address
Your team is what keeps the engines running in your hotel. Show that you care and value your staff by simply mentioning in your response that you will pass on any praise that is directed to them.
When addressing issues, start by offering apologies to your guests and ensuring that you will work on addressing their complaints. Offer details, where needed, on the circumstances that led to a malfunction or an issue.
Invite the guest back
Show your excitement and tell your guests that you would be more than happy to have them back on another visit. Everyone likes to feel welcome!
Also, don’t forget to sign using your name - this is a great way to show your guests that behind the response is actually a real person.
Prioritize Your Response: What Reviews Should You Reply to and When
Congratulations! Now you know all the important things to take into consideration when responding to reviews. We will go into more details about when, and in what order, you should respond to your reviews. We’ve got you covered!
The more reviews you reply to, the better. To make things easier, we created a predefined tile in our platform for Response Rate, and you can see at a glance how your hotel’s Response Rate is evaluated - good, medium, or low.
While you may find it challenging to respond to all reviews as soon as possible, our platform can help you to get a quick and clear overview of the Response Rate KPIs and prioritize the responses that are the most crucial.
Be sure to also look at your competitors’ response rate. Try to stay ahead of them, both in terms of the number of replies and their quality. Check Section: How TrustYou Can Help to learn how to see the response rate of your competitors using the TrustYou Comp Index.
What about timing? Keep it simple - try your best and respond to your guest reviews as soon as possible. There isn’t a standard timeframe for this, but ideally, you should provide a response in the first 48 hours after you have received the guest review.
Having this in mind, you should prioritize your answers in the following order:
Most recent reviews
A 2 or 3-year-old review may not be as relevant as the one you received yesterday. Focus on your most recent reviews to have a more accurate overview of where you are and what your guests are saying about your property.
If your guests flagged any issues, make sure you address them in your answers and solve them in real life as well.
Travelers appreciate it when hotels respond to negative reviews. Therefore, this is an easy way to prioritize responses by looking at ratings from lowest to highest.
Whether the feedback includes a mix of positive and negative experiences or just points out an average stay, make sure to address it and ask for more details to see how you can improve.
Replying to positive feedback may increase the chances of those guests returning and recommending your hotel to others.
One thing to consider when prioritizing the response is the source which the review comes from. Focus first on the sources with the highest review volumes, as these will have more visibility for consumers searching for a hotel.
[Infographic] Why & How to Respond to Your Guest Reviews
The essentials of responding to your guest feedback, now condensed in a visual-friendly format.
Respond to Negative Reviews: 6 Examples
Answering positive reviews seems less complicated than dealing with negative ones. You may be inclined to leave negative feedback unanswered. By properly addressing the issues your guests had, you can convert an unsatisfied guest into a returning one and actively show that you care about improving your guest experience.
Research shows that consumers think more highly of a hotel responding to its negative feedback than a hotel solely replying to its positive feedback.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of negative reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.
- Acknowledge the problem and offer solutions. Make sure that the guest feels welcome to return and have a better experience.
- Ask for more details if the feedback is unclear or if it doesn’t specify the issue.
- Explain the inconveniences and malfunctions flagged by your guests in the review.
Make sure to address the issues included in the reviews and, whenever possible, explain why this issue was happening.
- Avoid using templates when responding to negative guest reviews.
Templates may give the impression that the response isn’t personalized or that you are responding to tick a box rather than listening to your guests’ issues. If you can’t personally respond to each review, do the best that you can to customize templates to respond to common issues (e.g. WiFi speed or parking fees) and dissatisfactions expressed by your guests.
- Don’t ask additional questions without addressing the issues themselves.
It will look like you’re ignoring the problem. Also, make sure you format the text before sending it.
- Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.
When you reply to a guest's review, flagging an issue by insulting him/her and offering additional arguments shows disrespect. If there are any issues your guests created that are not mentioned in the review, invite them respectfully to discuss everything via a private conversation.
Your Guide to Replying to Negative Reviews
This guide provides hoteliers with an easy-to-follow structure with examples of negative reviews and responses. It also includes suggestions on how to make your response strategy more effective with the TrustYou platform.
Respond to Neutral Reviews: 4 Examples
Neutral reviews include a mixed bag of feedback that when analyzed, can neither be considered as not having a strong positive nor negative note. In our Guest Experience Platform, neutral reviews are defined based on (1) the review score - anything scoring from 41 to 60 points on a scale up to 100 and (2) sentiment score - anything scoring 51 to 70 on the same scale.
Responding to neutral reviews can be trickier than addressing positive or negative feedback. The information your guests provided can often be unclear. What does an average guest experience mean to them? How can you improve that? When replying, make sure to address the good, the bad, and the average from a neutral review.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of neutral reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.
- Ask for more details on why your guests evaluated the stay as average.
Make sure to emphasize that you aim at delivering a better experience.
- Address any other issues that the guest has flagged during their stay, but not in their review.
This shows extra attention to detail. When possible, offer vouchers to convince guests to return.
- Don’t use a standardized response.
Try to get more information from your guests. Ask them how you can serve them better next time or what areas can be improved.
- Don’t rush into giving quick replies.
Rushing into giving quick replies to your reviews may not pay off. Treat each review as a way to learn what you can improve, and make sure to let your guest know that you are working on the issues they flagged.
Respond to Positive Reviews: 6 Examples
How are you treating your cheerleaders? Guests that leave positive reviews are voluntarily choosing to go that extra mile. It’s their way of saying “thank you” for how you treated them during their stay. You should definitely not see this as a chore, but as more of a way to show how much you appreciate that your efforts have been praised and recognized.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts, including examples of positive reviews and responses from Google and our platform. These are actual guest reviews and responses collected by TrustYou but have been edited for readability and privacy purposes.
- Show that you have great customer service before, during, and after your guests’ stay.
Thank your guests for leaving a review even before they are your customers. It's rare to receive a positive review prior to the actual stay, but as you can see in the example below, the hotel owner took their time to respond and expressed their gratitude in a friendly and welcoming manner.
- Acknowledge staff when possible.
Let your guests know that you will pass on their positive impressions about your team.
Showing that you value and care about your staff makes a positive impact on your online reputation, and can also increase employee engagement in times when hiring and retaining staff is a constant challenge for the industry.
- Invite the guest back to the hotel.
Be friendly and tell your guests that you would be more than happy to have them back on another visit.
- Don’t start your response without thanking the guest.
It doesn't cost you anything to start your response with a “thank you.” Go on and show some gratitude! It is one of the nicest ways to show your respect to the guest for taking the time to offer feedback.
- Don’t use generic responses.
Take your time to personalize your response. You don’t have to overdo it, but at least use their name, and don’t forget to wrap up by signing your name too. It creates a personal connection with your guests and this will likely result in them returning to your hotel.
- Don’t ignore the positive reviews.
Did you know that positive reviews encourage 68% of consumers to use a local business?
Responding to positive guest reviews is not only a way of showing your guests that their experience and well-being is highly valued by your management, but it can also encourage future guests to book at your property.
Your Guide to Replying to Positive Reviews
Replying to positive feedback may not be your number one priority, but we encourage you to take your time and respond as much as you can to your guests’ praises. By saying a genuine thank you, you may turn a one-time satisfied customer into a returning, delighted guest.
Google, Booking.com, TripAdvisor - Guides & Policies to Follow When Responding to Reviews
Google allows the option to reply directly to reviews from Google Search and Google Maps.
While Google doesn’t have strict regulations, there are some best practices they recommend for responding to reviews. Mostly, they relate to writing a helpful reply and also to providing advice on how to respond to negative feedback. Although it’s not presented as a rule, they suggest not to offer incentives or discounts when replying to reviews. Find their tips here.
If you just created a business account on Google - make sure to verify it - otherwise, you won’t be able to respond.
You can respond to your Booking.com reviews with comments. Booking.com allows you to reply either in the language of the review, or in English. If you choose to reply in another language, your response won’t be shown or translated.
Booking.com has guidelines you need to follow for your response to be displayed. Here are some important things to consider when responding to Booking.com reviews:
- Don’t mention your website
- Don’t mention the website of a Booking.com’s competitor
- Don’t imply that the review is fake
- Don’t offer incentives or discounts for your guests
- Don’t encourage the guest to return through a direct booking
- Avoid using personal information. A response including your guest’s last name, contact info or any other personal information won’t be allowed.
The full Booking.com Guidelines and Best Practices for responding to your reviews are available here.
As a business representative of your TripAdvisor account, you can craft a single reply to a review, which the platform calls the Management Response.
It takes up to 48 hours for the replies to be approved by TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor also has Response Guidelines. Here’s what you need to pay attention to:
- Don’t include any promotional or commercial content
- Don’t insert links in your response
- Avoid using lists, bullets, HTML tags, ALL CAPS, symbols, or other formatting options that make the text difficult to read
- Avoid using machine translated content
- Don’t mention any personal information that would help identify your guests
At TrustYou, we help hoteliers win with the Power to Listen. Here are 3 ways you can collect, manage, and analyze your feedback with the help of our platform:
Collect Feedback Using TrustYou Survey Solutions
TrustYou Live Survey
Live Survey provides real-time feedback while guests are still in-house. Guests can fill out a brief questionnaire about their experience and hoteliers can immediately take action on any questions, complaints, or requests while having the opportunity to communicate with them in real-time throughout the process. Resolving guest issues to their satisfaction while they’re still onsite will in turn prevent them from leaving a negative post-stay review on a public OTA.
TrustYou Post-Stay Survey
Post-Stay feedback is an imperative part of the guest journey. This is where hoteliers get the full picture of their guests’ experiences - what went well, what went wrong, and what can be done about it. TrustYou Survey empowers you to ask the right questions, align it with your branding, customize invitations to ensure a personal touch, and provide detailed, actionable insights based on the feedback you receive. One guest’s complaint can be turned into another guest’s praise!
Respond to Google and Booking.com Reviews Using Our Guest Experience Platform
Responding to guest reviews shouldn’t be challenging and TrustYou has the resources to streamline the process. Tired of typing the same responses over and over? Utilize our Response Templates to streamline the response process, while still leaving room for personal touches to each guest. Confused about which reviews you still need to respond to? The Reviews Inbox allows you to filter reviews by status to easily track your progress. TrustYou also offers Direct Response for Google and Booking.com, two of the largest online review sources in the world, so that you never have to leave the platform.
Measure Yourself Against the Competition Using TrustYou Comp Index
The TrustYou Comp Index enables hoteliers to choose specific KPIs that are of high value to their business and compare them to their competitors.
One KPI to keep a close eye on is response rate, as a guest is 62% more likely to book with a hotel that has genuine responses to guest reviews than one that does not. Plus, responding to reviews can lead to an increase in Performance Score. That’s why it’s interesting to compare this KPI to other hotels and in relation to the above-mentioned KPIs. Response rate reports can be split by source, language, and star rating.
Go Beyond Response Rate to Improve Online Reputation
Responding properly to your guests’ feedback is not enough if you want to improve your service, quality, and your online reputation overall. Make sure you truly listen to your guests’ needs. Fix the issues reported by your guests together with your staff. Treat feedback as a data set that can help to continuously improve your guest experience and amenities.
Analyzing feedback may be overwhelming at times. With so many channels where guests can leave their reviews, the process of reading, analyzing, and responding to all feedback may turn into a mission impossible task. Having an all-in-one platform, where you can easily access all reviews in one place, is a must in the new era of travel.
With our Guest Experience Platform, you can get the most out of the feedback you receive. We analyze each review with the help of semantic analysis to identify categories where you perform well or where you can improve. You also have the option of benchmarking against your competitors. Replying to reviews and making feedback actionable, are now easier and more time-efficient with the help of our solutions.