Why customer reviews matter
With our use of the Internet and the rise of new technologies, online social engagement has increased tenfold, particularly with customer reviews. Digital word of mouth is growing and several websites have specialized in customer reviews such as TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Yelp and even Facebook.
It is now essential for a hotel to be present on these various websites and to collect customer reviews to build its online reputation.
Why should you have customer reviews?
A customer review represents a positive or negative testimony. In general, a review summarizes how the customer viewed their stay, by giving their opinion on the check-in process, the services offered and their room.
Customer reviews are important as they are read by many potential guests. They allow customers to gather information, reassure them about potential questions and convince them of their hotel choice. All of this influences their final decision. In fact, 80% of travelers use the Internet to gather information on brands and hotels and 70% of them consult customer reviews to make a decision. This is therefore an excellent way to reinforce your credibility and boost your sales as potential customers will be more likely to book their stay at your hotel.
Customer reviews can also help you to better understand your clientele and their interests. You can analyse how the experience you offer is viewed by your customers, and use this analysis to improve your services, helping you build loyalty. By making sure to respond to each review and thanking your guests, you enhance your relationship with them and show them that their opinion is taken into consideration.
In addition, customer reviews increase your online visibility and your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This in turn increases your likelihood of appearing in the first pages of a search engine, giving you the opportunity to boost your online reservations.
How to collect customer reviews?
There are several ways to collect customer reviews. You can program a post-stay automatic email in your Property Management System to thank your customers for staying with you and ask them to share their experience on Google My Business or TripAdvisor. You can also send a personalized message to customers who have positively responded to your satisfaction survey, asking them to leave a review on your customer review website of choice. To thank your customer for leaving a review, you can offer them compensation such as a discount on their next stay, loyalty points or invitations to special events as ambassadors of your brand.
You can also organize a contest on social media to encourage them to write a customer review and possibly win a stay at your hotel.
How to handle negative reviews?
Negative customer reviews have always been present on various online review platforms. In fact, travellers are more likely to write reviews to complain than to share their satisfaction, so do not panic!
Dealing with negative customer reviews is not an easy task, so you should take the time to read the review and understand it. Once that is done, take a step back and think of a courteous, professional and empathetic response. You do not need to go into detail, just show that you and your team listen to your customers and that you are open to making improvements where they have to be made.
You should also do your own research on the author of a negative review. Indeed, more often than not, some malicious and ill-intentioned people will write negative reviews when they have not even stayed with you. Are they a real client? When did they stay with you? Are there any specific notes related to their reservation? Did they answer your customer satisfaction survey?
Customer reviews should not be underestimated or neglected, as they have a strong influence on your potential customers’ final decision. They can either increase or decrease the interest and trust they have for your hotel and even improve or tarnish your online reputation.Nevertheless, customer reviews allow you to get feedback on your customers’ experience and therefore to get suggestions and ideas that will help you improve your services to convince your potential customers, build customer loyalty and distinguish yourself from your competitors.