How to use online reviews to grow business and increase revenue
With the boom of social media and review sites, a hotel can no longer hide its online reputation. To thrive, it must monitor consumer sentiment online by understanding and proactively responding to reviews. Here’s how a hotel can leverage reviews to satisfy guests and gain more business.
Once, there was a mentality in the hotel industry to hide or ignore user reviews. Now this is nearly impossible and, in fact, detrimental to a hotel’s business. Thousands of reviews are written daily across hundreds of platforms, adding up to more than 700 million hotel-related sentiments across the web.
They are of high interest with Facebook and Twitter’s millions of users, and they have driven TripAdvisor to its 56 million monthly unique visitors. They are easy to find and are a routine part of most travelers’ pre-purchase research, with social media directly influencing more than 83% of all online bookings.
Companies have no choice but to pay attention to reviews. While it sounds daunting at first, those that successfully work with user feedback find increased guest satisfaction, more customer loyalty and more bookings with new customers.
Where should hoteliers begin?
Many now use third party monitoring systems, which can quickly analyze reviews in one dashboard so that hoteliers save time and overhead. These providers also have access to more information – like benchmarking and competitive tracking – compared to typical in-house systems, and they make it simple for hotels to listen to and encourage guest feedback, all in one dashboard.
Those without third party tools should choose a few review/social platforms that matter most to their target customers and begin monitoring them, making it routine to log in to each platform, read reviews and respond to feedback.
Regardless of the system a hotel uses to track its reviews, beginning with these simple monitoring steps will help improve its online reputation and grow.
As basic as it sounds, many hotels forget to really listen to guest feedback. Review sites and social media are unique because they provide a place for hotels to listen to trusted, authentic, unsolicited consumer opinions. Rather than brushing off negative aspects of a guest’s stay, hoteliers should focus on proactively fixing the negatives, especially if the same ones appear more than once or twice.
2. Encourage feedback
Let guests know that the hotel wants to hear their opinion, both online and while they are still in the hotel. This alone helps guests feel more positive about the hotel. It also improves a hotel’s overall review scores. Gaining additional reviews makes any negative feedback carry less weight in the hotel’s score. Plus, research shows that more than 80% of all reviews written are positive.
Hotels must respond to guest reviews – both positive and negative. This is one of the simplest ways to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty post-stay. Our recently published research shows that hotels that respond to their guests average a 6% higher review score, leading to more visibility and more bookings. Management responses also influence booking decisions of potential new guests during their pre-purchase research.
Hotels gain a competitive advantage when benchmarking its reviews against competition. Benchmarking gives hotels a clear picture of the market place, from a guest point of view. Managers should ensure that their hotel is delivering on its brand promises and setting itself apart from competitors. Finding attributes where the hotel has a clear competitive edge will help in marketing and positioning.
Hotels that take these steps to actively monitor online reputation see more positive reviews and more bookings. These bookings, in turn lead to more reviews, more satisfied customers, and so on. With this relationship, both business and consumer win: hotels improve customer satisfaction, perfect service, and increase sales. Customers, in turn, enjoy a better overall experience with hotels and act as brand ambassadors by writing reviews on review and social media sites.
Using such tactics to actively work with reviews should be an important part of a hotel’s strategy. Those focused on reviews will enjoy more bookings and growth, while hotels that ignore reviews will fall flat. Which type of hotel will you be?