Protecting Your Online Reputation
Business today is made transparent thanks and no thanks to online sentiment. Customers are relying on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. The current top 5 review sites are Google, followed by Facebook, Amazon, Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Top 10 Online Reviews Statistics relevant for 2018 are:
97% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision.
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend or family member.
Over 72% of businesses have more trust in a local business with positive reviews.
Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business in 2017, up from 6 reviews in 2016.
46% of consumers pay attention to the quantity of reviews when making a buying decision.
Over 57% of consumers will eventually buy from a business they researched online.
Over 26% of consumers will almost always buy from a business they researched online.
Yelp (20%), Facebook (20%) and Google (16%) are the most trusted online review sites.
50% of consumers will question a business's quality after reading negative online reviews.
30% of consumers say responding to reviews is a key factor when judging local businesses.
From a consumer behaviour perspective, reviews are moving towards Google and Facebook. Why? Due to Mobile devices being the easiest and quickest way to post a review, Google GPS Map data and review prompts.
Drilling down to Hotels, when it comes to where guests are posting reviews, here is todays distribution breakdown in Australia, from Revinate’s online tracking tool.
Top Review Sites
TripAdvisor is the number one most-visited site by consumers prior to booking in the top travel markets included in a 2017 study. Every month, hundreds of millions of travellers come to TripAdvisor to read reviews, view photos and compare prices to make sure they are booking a holiday that is right from them. Following TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com and Expedia were the most visited pre-transaction sites.
Online tracking tool, Revinate, advise hoteliers to respond to reviews within 24 hours as responses are moderated and can take a while to be posted. They also recommend responding to all 1 and 2 star reviews and responding to as many as you can for 3, 4, and 5 star ratings.
We understand you are busy and if you are short on time a Cornell University study proposed to have at least one Management Response amongst the ten most recent reviews you’ve received. That way the traveller doesn’t have to scroll to far through your hotels review history.
From a hotelier perspective it is disheartening receiving negative feedback about your property. But, it is important to stay calm, be professional and take the following steps into account that can be applied to any business.
- Do your research first. Check your property management system and with your front office team for background information that may assist in your response. Is the customer a regular guest? Did they actually stay, and when did they stay? All this information will help you formulate a response.
- Depending on the severity of the review, check the guest’s online social remarks on review sites. Is this something they frequently do? Be aware of scams to exploit the system.
- It is important to respond to a review within 24 hours so that your review is not left exposed and unanswered online for prospective guests to see. Management responses should come from as high up in the organisation as possible. The General Manager is best or the Director of Sales.
- Thank the guest for taking the time to write the review. Pull out a positive in the review with the apology on the negative remark. Ie: We apologise you did not have a good experience in our restaurant, but we are glad you enjoyed the views from your hotel room. Never use your hotel name in the negative response as this will appear on future online searches when your hotel name is searched for.
- Invite the reviewer back to stay again, and ask them to contact you prior, so you can oversee their stay. Do not include your email address or contact number as these are not permitted and may delay your response being posted.
- Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes and be sincere in your response. Most people just want to be heard and be acknowledged. They understand that their stay may not be perfect. However, it is how hoteliers respond to an issue to resolve the situation that will be the deciding factor of them returning and spreading the good word about your hotel.
- Have someone proof read your response to ensure it is well written, error free and on-brand.
- Finally, if you’ve not already, invest in an online reputation management system, with the likes of Revinate or TrustYou. This way you will not miss a guest review, responding is made easier and hoteliers can also monitor and benchmark against their competitor set.
Author: Kerry L Chew, Lead Partner for nem Hotel, Tourism & Leisure
This article is based on research and opinion available in the public domain.
Revinate - https://learn.revinate.com/
TripAdvisor - https://www.tripadvisorsupport.com/hc/en-us