When there is so much to deal with in day-to-day hotel operations, responding to online reviews seems like a task for which there is never enough time. So why respond to hotel guest reviews?
Reviews are key in guiding people in their purchasing decisions. According to recent STR data, guest reviews are the third most important factor – after location and price/value – to influence booking decisions. Add to that that now there are fewer people traveling and, we are seeing fewer reviews, which means that any review (good or bad) is featured much longer on your front page, you want to make sure your guest responses are timely and of good quality.
Besides that, online reviews are a gold mine of guest data, which can help you better understand what the current guest expectations are. They help you understand what is hurting your online reputation, so you can improve your service and boost your online reputation.
What About Negative Guest Reviews?
Negative reviews are not fun to receive, but hoteliers should not fear them either. They can offer insights into the guest experience at your property and help you understand where to focus your investments.
A negative review must never remain unanswered. It is key to respond to these reviews quickly so that anyone browsing your profile will not only see the negative review but also your response. Remember that your response offers you an opportunity to highlight some of the changes you have implemented based on your guest feedback. It is not just for the guest that left the review, but also for future “bookers” browsing reviews.
What to Keep in Mind When Responding to Guest Reviews?
When responding to hotel guest reviews, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Speed or quantity? When responding to guest reviews, speed is key. Ideally, any review is responded to in 72 hours, and a negative review even within 24 hours. If you respond to all reviews, but it takes you over a week, then it might not be beneficial. No one is scrolling to the bottom when reading online reviews!
- Set a clear management response strategy – To make sure your staff knows what review to prioritize, a clear management response strategy is vital. Think about what sources and types of reviews should be responded to and within what timeframe. Set goals and regularly check in on how your team is managing their KPIs.
- Be flexible – Having a good strategy is step one, however, we need to be flexible. Times change, and that means, a strategy should too. Sources that were important three years ago might not be that essential anymore, and new big ones might have popped up. Or now that you are dealing with a reduced workforce, your pre-pandemic KPIs might not be reflecting your current situation.
How to Save Time When Responding to Hotel Guest Reviews
Responding to hotel guest reviews can be very time-consuming, however, there are a few tips to be as efficient as possible when dealing with this task:
- A good review management tool: an efficient review management tool lets you manage reviews from one central dashboard and create filters and views which will allow you to quickly get to those reviews that have a high priority to be responded to.
- Management response templates: templates can be useful to ensure a quick response within brand standards. However, use them in a strategical way. For example, if you are dealing with a lot of noise complaints, provide a sentence template for your staff to deal with these complaints, but with enough space to personalize the rest of the response. Remember, these reviews and responses are public for all to see. You will come across as not invested if the same response appears to all reviews, regardless of what is mentioned.
- Response integrations: check with your review management tool provider if you can integrate your platform with some key sources like Booking.com or Google, so that you can respond directly from that same platform, instead of having to go each time to the review website.
Guest reviews form an essential part of hospitality, and so these cannot be ignored. Use them for guidance, and to improve your online reputation. Show your guests you care about feedback, that you listen to them. It will only encourage more online reviews!
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