Responding to Online Reviews

Not all websites that display customer reviews allow responses from hotel management. But when you can respond — do. Hotels that provide a management response to reviews are 21 percent more likely to receive a booking inquiry via that site. A 2016 Cornell study also found that hotels that respond to up to 40 percent of their reviews observe a 2.2 times average lift in revenue.

Some of the major sites that allow public responses — usually after first registering or joining — include, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Expedia and, Google+/Google My Business, Travelocity, Facebook, Ctrip, and Wotif. Here are tips for managing your responses to online reviews — excerpted from Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape, HSMAI’s new study guide for the CHDM certification:

  • Research the situation before responding, to make sure you have the story straight and understand what action needs to be taken in the future to prevent recurrence.
  • Make it a priority to respond to negative reviews — reply to all of them. If handled well, this can increase your esteem in the eyes of readers. In fact, 84 percent of users surveyed by TripAdvisor agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.”
  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback.
  • Be sincere and genuine. Do not use generic canned responses.
  • Apologize for the negative guest experience.
  • Explain steps you will take to prevent the negative experience from happening again.
  • Do not offer compensation online. This can make readers believe that complaining can bring financial reward.
  • Wrap up by acknowledging any positive comments, and ask for an opportunity to show them the improved guest experience.
  • Invite the guest to contact you offline.
  • Have someone else read responses for tone and intent prior to posting.
  • For every negative review that receives a response, also respond to a positive review.
  • Per industry research, aim for a 40-percent response rate. It is not necessary to publicly respond to every positive review, but it is good form to privately thank all positive reviewers.
  • Respond as quickly as possible — within 24 hours whenever possible. However, it is sometimes better to wait another day than to get the details wrong in your research of the events or planning your recovery. Some brands require a response within 48 hours.
  • You can ask TripAdvisor to remove an old review and replace it with a new response when new information is available.
  • You can even follow up months or years later if a renovation has removed the item of contention. This can be helpful to travelers who like to read the worst reviews first.

Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape is HSMAI’s official study guide for the Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) certification. Learn more — and purchase a copy — here.

Categories: Marketing, Digital
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