Online Reviews: Why They Matter
Online reviews are the comment cards of yesteryear.
Except they aren't private. Everyone sees them.
In fact, more than 95 percent of consumers say they look to online reviews before deciding on spending their money with a company.
And about 80 percent say negative reviews changed their mind about a purchase, according to a study by Bright Local.
That means managing your hotel’s online reputation is imperative.
To maintain a healthy online reputation, hoteliers should practice this trifecta: respond to negative reviews with genuine useful responses, reaffirm positive reviews, and solicit feedback from customers.
Not only can negative online reviews affect sales and revenue, they can also affect the ability for customers to find you online.
Google points to online reviews and responses among the top factors affecting local search engine rankings.
The more reviews and responses your hotel gets on Google, the better its search engine ranking. That’s because search engines generally rank results by new content. Responding to reviews not only helps improve your hotel’s online reputation, it also serves as the updated content that search engines crawl to determine just high your property will rank in a search.
With customers increasingly looking to Google, and other platforms like Yelp and Facebook for guidance, responding to reviews promptly is essential.
Experts suggest waiting no longer than 12-24 hours to respond. This gives you the opportunity to not only read the review but determine the best way to respond.
Now that we’ve established whether or not you should respond and when, the question remains — how should you respond?
Responses to negative reviews should be useful, personal, yet professional, and brief.
Use the reviewer's name in your response. If there is an easy solution to the problem, offer it. If there isn’t a solution, flip the script and use the review as a chance to spotlight the positive aspects of your business. Don’t attempt to go back and forth with the reviewer. Instead, offer to talk to the reviewer offline.
It’s also important to comment on positive reviews. Thank the reviewer for their positive feedback, and use the time to highlight something about the property that they should experience on their next visit. A simple acknowledgment of their review can go a long way to boost brand loyalty and influence another customer to book.
Soliciting reviews and feedback from satisfied customers is a good way to bolster fresh online content. Research shows 70 percent of customers will leave a review when asked. This can be done in-person during check-out or as part of your email marketing strategy.