By Robert Holland, BHA Chief Technology Adviser
Ask anyone (excluding Millenials) about relative values of marketing campaigns and they will always say that word of mouth still delivers the best return. With the advent of guest reviews and social media, this “word of mouth” has a much broader inclusion and no longer only refers to where your neighbours went on holiday. So how can we use technology to improve this medium?
I have been told that 93% of travellers are influenced by reviews before they book and Tripadvisor tells us that 76% of travellers value properties that respond to guest reviews. They go further to suggest that 87% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review improves their impression of the hotel. These reviews bridge the gap of “trust” between the unknown and the known and the world becomes your neighbour.
Trust is earned and you cannot develop it without genuinely good service. If for whatever reason you have been unable to provide good service, apologise. Tripadvisor advises that their users are 70% less likely to book a hotel that is aggressive or defensive in their responses to customer review. It has also been argued that bad reviews add an element of authenticity to your hotel which, when responded to, can improve trust.
But Tripadvisor is not the only source of reviews. HolidayCheck is the largest online travel review site in German speaking countries. Google, Booking.com & Expedia also attribute guest booking to positive reviews. And let’s not forget Facebook which is being increasingly used to review experiences including Hotel stays. You would be forgiven for thinking that taking the time to respond all these reviews is time that would be better spent looking after your customers in house to make sure that they leave positive reviews. Online Reputation management tools can help you manage all of these channels in an efficient manner. GuestRevu for example will not only assist you in managing the reviews but they will also translate any foreign reviews and your responses to them.
Francine Heywood, co founder of GuestRevu tells me “our clients collected 225% more reviews on Tripadvisor, including more reviews with higher ratings.”
In summary this should be a two way conversation and as hoteliers we should make sure that we are responding to any comment made about our properties in order to build trust with our consumers who are reading these reviews. If technology can help us to reduce the amount of time we spend responding to these reviews allowing us to spend more time with our customers, creating great memories that they can then share on future reviews, then I am all for it.