Online Reviews = Nightmare? – Part I
Let’s face it, in today’s age of real-time information, consumers absolutely love to be heard offline and online, right?
They have absolutely no reservation in sharing their thoughts, checking other reviews and suggestions, and commenting on posts across a multitude of social media, as well as travel review websites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking, Orbitz, One Travel, Hotwire, Kayak and the list goes on and on and on.
On top of that, there is quite a significant number of travelers who are extremely methodical in their approach and absolutely love to document their experiences, providing guidance to fellow travelers, and allowing them to make informed choices on their next business and/or leisure trips.
BOTTOM LINE, if you want to stay competitive, you better master the “art” of handling online reviews.
Do They Really Matter?
This one feels kind of a La Palice, but let’s elaborate a bit more. First, let’s put ourselves in the guests shoes.
Do you as a consumer read reviews before acquiring a product or booking that dream vacation? Is the sky blue, right?
In the hospitality industry, guests opinions are so important that they can literally make or break a business.
It’s also a fact that it can be a 24/7 job since it can happen at any given time and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than making sure you’re on top of things, making the most out of what can be maximized, and minimising the impact of what may be perceived as negative.
Like any Hotelier is tired of knowing, customer service is one of the key pillars of the hospitality industry, but with internet-enabled mobile devices “glued” to the thumbs of modern travelers, the approach necessarily needs to evolve. Nowadays, great customer service has become synonymous of great social media customer service.
Thanks to the rise of mobile internet, online reputation and social media are now inextricably tied to attracting new guests and turning them into repeat customers.
Make no mistake, social media is far from being just about marketing; it’s also about managing customer relationships. More and more, potential guests rather book their stay online and make the first contact via Facebook or Twitter, rather than over the phone. Even in-house guests are increasingly likely to turn to the internet [instead of Front Desks or Concierges] to look for local information or feedback on their stay.
BOTTOM LINE, social media is paramount as a customer service enhancement tool, and there’s no way of running from it.
The Numbers Behind The Numbers
There are numerous sources and studies out there, but let’s remain assertive.
PhoCusWright for TripAdvisor . 2014
> 77% mentioned reviews before booking a room.
> 80% reads on average 6 to 12 reviews before booking.
> Roughly 50% refuses to book a room until they’ve read peer reviews online.
> 53% won’t even make a booking if there are no online reviews about the hotel.
> 70% are less likely to book a hotel with an aggressive and/or defensive review response policy.
> 87% agreed that an appropriate response to a negative review improved their overall impression.
> 62% agreed that they are more likely to book a hotel that responds to reviews, instead of one that doesn’t.
> Given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to chose the hotel with the higher reviews.
IPSOS for TripAdvisor – TripBarometer . 2015
Top Factors Impacting Decisions When Booking Accommodations?
As expected, price ranks as the number one factor in the booking decision process for nearly all travelers, but guess which shows up immediately after? According to the latest TripBarometer from IPSOS, online reviews rank immediately after, so it’s pretty obvious the way in which online reputation can make or break a business.
You can download the full study here https://goo.gl/HrW5qc
PriceWaterHouse Coopers . Hotels Online Reputation Study . 2015
Sample Size: over 11,000 hotels in 48 cities in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.
3 Key Aspects That a Hotelier Should Take Away From it When Analyzing It’s Online Reviews:
> Online reviews are a resource, not a nuisance, so use them wisely to improve your business and guests loyalty.
> A written response is a start, but an internal review and commitment to physical or service related changes is what will keep you ahead of the game.
> Management needs to coordinate responses across departments to assure employees are aligned on meeting guests’ expectations in the present and in the future.
You can download the full study here https://goo.gl/JTKLC2
In the next chapter we’ll be covering extensively some of the Best Practices, so make sure you’re tuned.
Account Manager | HDS – Hotel Digital Strategy