Online reviews are everywhere, but in a hyper-connected world where different opinions are voiced on the daily, how much influence do online reviews have on customers in the hotel and tourism industry?
A survey conducted by Software Advice, a company that ranks hotel management systems, found that a combined 46 percent of participants say they use online reviews “sometimes,” “most of the time” or “always” when booking a hotel. The group ranged in age from 18-34, while the 43 percent that “never” used hotel reviews was generally older.
In short, yes, online reviews matter in the hospitality industry and even have the potential to cripple revenue, and the number of people who rely on reviews when making a booking is likely going to grow in the digital age.
When considering approaching online reviews from a marketing standpoint there are a few things to keep in mind.
The Classification of Influence
First, consider where your hotel falls under the classification of influence. A chain hotel with national or international recognition already has a reputation. For the most part, people know what to expect, and reading a negative review probably won’t hold much weight for someone who already has a positive perception of the brand. Of course, even a chain hotel will see a correlation between negative reviews and bookings eventually.
Overall, reviews tend to be more important for independent hotels that don’t have the widespread reputation to fall back on. For these establishments, reviews can literally be make or break, giving them all the more reason to tune-in to what customers are saying.
People are Searching for Reviews
Once people hear about your hotel they actually search for reviews of your establishment. While the majority of hotel reviews are left on online booking agents like Trip Advisor, Expedia and Hotels.com, it’s also good practice to encourage guests to leave reviews on a review site or on your own website.
If you feature reviews on your own site and optimize them for search you can compete with OTAs for a top spot in review specific search results. This gives you the chance to bring in more bookings directly from your site and potentially decrease OTA fees.
The Importance of Moderation
Unfortunately, the bulk of online reviews are left on third-party sites that you don’t have control over. Moderating and replying to reviews on these sites is very important. Make sure you maintain a presence on sites where you get the most reviews, and monitor the comments, so that you can respond and engage with customers. If nothing else this showcases your dedication to customer service. You never know who could be reading.
The last thing you ever want to do is ignore online reviews. You’re never going to please everyone, but by taking a proactive approach you can boost public opinion within the online travel community.
Looking to take that proactive approach, or just more information on reputation management? We’re only a click away, contact us for more information.