Over the past few decades, the internet has revolutionized nearly every aspect of the tourism industry. Just a few decades ago, travelers looking to book a hotel would check a travel booklet, the phone book, or ask a friend or family member for a recommendation. Today, they can scroll social media, run a Google search, check an OTA like Booking.com, browse blogs—the options are endless!
The internet has changed how we book rooms, order supplies, advertise, manage staff, schedule maintenance, and everything in between.
Arguably one of the biggest developments that the internet has caused is the growth of online reviews. Today, online reviews are a driving factor in nearly every kind of purchase. A 2021 study by PowerReviews found that 99.9 percent of customers read reviews before making a purchase. Hotel reviews are used to rank properties on sites like TripAdvisor. Many guests use them while researching places to stay as a way to see what real guests thought about the property.
Good or bad, reviews have a big impact on your property’s success. But should you be responding to reviews? What’s the best way to respond to negative reviews? How soon should you post a response? We’re breaking down everything hotels need to know about responding to guest reviews, and how the team at Vibrant Management can help set you on the path to better reviews.
Timeliness is Important
One of the most important things to remember when responding to guest reviews is that timeliness matters. In the fast-paced digital world, guests expect timely responses to their feedback. Whether that feedback is negative or positive, responding as quickly as possible—preferably within 24 to 48 hours—shows guests that your property values their insight and is dedicated to guest satisfaction.
Embrace Constructive Feedback
Guest reviews, whether positive or negative, provide hotels and vacation rentals with valuable insights into their guests’ experiences. Instead of viewing negative feedback as a setback, or positive feedback as a sign that you don’t need to make changes, look at every review as an opportunity for growth.
Constructive criticism that’s repeated in more than a couple of reviews can highlight areas that are in need of improvement. Make note of trends that occur in negative reviews, and when you notice a trend, make a plan to correct it.
When responding to negative reviews, it’s important to acknowledge the concern that the guest presented and to show a genuine commitment to address that concern.
Address Negative Reviews in a Constructive Way
Negative reviews are sometimes inevitable. Even properties with thousands of positive reviews have their share of negative ones. Sometimes it’s a series of little mistakes that add up to a poor overall experience for guests. Other times, it’s circumstances that are outside of a hotel’s control, like the weather or other guests that ruin an individual’s experience.
When possible, address negative reviews in a constructive way. Outline the steps you plan to take to address any issues that the guest has presented. If possible, and if you feel that the situation warrants it, consider asking the guest to reach out for a solution, such as a discount on a return stay or a complimentary upgrade.
Personalization Helps to Foster a Connection
Posting a cookie-cutter response may be one way to respond quickly to reviews and minimize your workload. But more often than not, this will come across to your guests as insincere and disinterested.
Instead, take the time to personalize your response. Use the guest’s name, make specific references to things that they mentioned about their stay, and acknowledge any special requests or circumstances that you can. This goes a long way towards creating a connection with not only that guest, but also with future guests who see these reviews.
If your property receives a lot of reviews and you can’t respond to every one, carefully choose the most thoughtful and detailed reviews, and provide an in-depth, personalized response to those.
Your Tone Sets the Stage
The tone of your response plays a crucial role in shaping the perception of your property’s attitude toward guest feedback. While you do want to personalize your approach, your response should always be professional, empathetic, and courteous, regardless of whether the review is positive or negative. One bad review won’t ruin your business. But one bad response to a poor review could have a far-reaching impact.
Avoid confrontational language or defensive tones, no matter how tempting, as these can escalate an already bad situation and reflect poorly on your property’s reputation. A calm and understanding tone conveys that you are committed to resolving the issue and maintaining guest satisfaction.
Encourage Guests to Reach Out
In certain situations, it isn’t possible to fully address a guest’s concerns through your response to their review. Maybe they really did experience serious issues during their stay that you weren’t aware of at the time or that you couldn’t address. Or, perhaps you suspect that a misunderstanding may have led to their poor review.
If this is the case, consider asking the guest to reach out to you in your response. Provide a phone number or email address that they can reach you at. The guest may choose not to reach out. But providing them with that option will allow them to get additional help or answers, and may give you a chance to rectify the situation.
Respond Across a Variety of Platforms
There are a seemingly endless number of places where guests can leave reviews. Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Facebook allow hotel and vacation rental guests to share feedback about their stay.
It would be impossible to respond to every review about your property in every location that it’s posted. Instead, identify the platforms where your property receives the most reviews. Choose two or three platforms, and focus your research and responses on those. This will allow you to more carefully craft your responses, and keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Measure Your Progress
Guest reviews are a valuable resource for gathering insight from real guests about their stay at your property. Once you’ve implemented a strategy for gathering that insight and putting it to work, don’t forget to track your progress. Luckily, your reviews make this easy.
Once you’ve identified a trend in guests complaints, addressed it, and made a plan to correct it, watch for future reviews that mention the same issue. If the complaints continue, you may need to address your approach. If the complaints do not continue, it may indicate that your approach was successful!
If you’re struggling to address and fix guests’ complaints, it might be time to get help. The team at Vibrant Management are experts at helping hotels, vacation rentals, and other properties better serve their guests. From identifying problem areas to improving your management, upgrading your property, or improving your marketing, our team is here to help. Contact us today to learn how we can help your hotel boost bookings and improve your bottom line.