In this TripAdvisor advertorial, the company provides a few tips on how to respond to traveller reviews.
Online reviews are fundamentally changing the way travellers shop for hotels and other travel businesses. Recent PhoCusWright research conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor* reveals that more than half of respondents state that they will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on the site, and 87 percent of users agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews “help me feel more confident in my decision.”
With results like these, it’s clear that reviews are an important factor in travellers’ booking decisions. And so are your responses to them. According to the same survey, 78 percent of users agree that seeing a management response to reviews “makes me believe that it cares more about its guests,” and 57 percent of users agree that seeing a response generally “makes me more likely to book it versus a comparable hotel that didn’t respond to travellers.”
In addition, a recent study from The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research demonstrates that there is a financial reward for having a great online reputation – and how reviews can influence a hotel’s ability to increase prices, drive occupancy and maximise revenue.
Fortunately, responding to reviews on TripAdvisor is entirely within your control and can be done through the TripAdvisor Management Center.
Here are few tips on how to respond to traveller reviews:
1. Respond promptly: Responding to reviews in a timely manner shows guests that you pay attention to feedback and that you care about their experience. It leaves a lasting impression on the reviewer and others browsing your business page. You can also sign up for review notification emails to find out about new reviews for your property as soon as they are posted.
Carol-Lynn Robbins, co-owner, Lauriston Court Hotel, Llanduno, Wales, checks her TripAdvisor page several times each day. “I check my page every three hours or so, so I am always aware if we have received a review and yes, I respond to reviews. My motto is, if guests take the time to review, I should write back to say thank you!”
2. Thank your guests for their feedback: This applies to feedback that is negative and positive. Although 74 percent of travellers state that they write reviews because they want to share a good experience with other travellers, there may be negative feedback from time to time. Start by expressing your appreciation to guests who have taken the time to write about their experience at your property.
Larry Watts, owner of 1896 O’Malley House Bed & Breakfast, New Orleans, USA, stresses the importance of thanking reviewers. “I respond to reviews that people post. I think that’s really important. If someone is going to take the time out of their day to write a review for my business, I should take the time to thank them for that review regardless of what that review is.”
3. Address any specific complaints: This is your chance to explain what you have done to address problems so that the reviewer and potential guests are reassured that concerns are taken seriously, and that you are willing to resolve problems. If there was a miscommunication during the guest’s stay, it is your chance to address the issue and clarify what may have caused the problem. However, it’s important not to take a defensive tone, as this may prevent you from sounding polite and professional.
Robert Nadler, CEO of base2stay, UK, stresses the importance of responding to negative reviews. “For us, it’s very important to demonstrate that we understand the guest’s position. If we’ve done something wrong, thank them for pointing it out and tell them what we’re going to do about putting it right, and show humility.”
4. Be original in your reply: As mentioned above, guests take their time to write a review for your property based on their personal experience. Avoid using the same stock message in your responses – address the individual review to demonstrate that each piece of feedback is vital to your business and that you have taken the time to read and digest what they have written.
Jamie Holmes, General Manager of Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, St Kitts and Nevis, and his staff make sure that the guests know their voices are heard. “We let them know that the hotel itself, the owner and the staff really appreciate their candid feedback and that we use it to ensure that we stay current and relevant to what their needs are.”
5. Be polite and professional: Responding to reviews is also part of your reputation management. Your response is visible to everyone and you are representing your property. It should demonstrate that all feedback – both positive and negative – is important to you.
Andy Thesen, Co-owner of Hermitage Bay, Antigua, knows that responding to reviews in a professional manner is important for future guests as well. “Guests contact me before booking and say ‘oh, I’ve just read this bad review. Could you just make me feel comfortable that it’s not a real issue?’ So my engagement with the guests starts sometimes even before they are booked; certainly months before they arrive.”
Monitoring reviews is important but how you respond to them is what sets you apart from your competitors. Follow these steps and respond to reviews just as you would if you were interacting with guests in person. A bit of empathy, coupled with professionalism, can go a long way.
For more information on writing management responses, visit the TripAdvisor for Business blog.
*According to a September 2012 PhoCusWright survey commissioned by TripAdvisor of 2,739 respondents. Participants for the study were solicited at random through a pop-up invitation link on TripAdvisor.com.