Online review site TripAdvisor released the findings of its latest TripBarometer study. Conducted by TripAdvisor and independent research firm Ipsos, the survey questioned more than 44,000 travellers and hoteliers around the world to determine the key trends which will impact the global travel industry in 2016.
According to Travel Trends, the Barometer found that 93% of accommodation owners believe online traveller reviews are the most important element for the future of their businesses.
As such, 59% of hoteliers admitted that they plan to invest more money in online reputation management this year, making it the biggest area of planned investment for hoteliers in 2016.
Reviews and reputation
The Barometer’s findings suggest that customer reviews have a strong effect on a business’ reputation online. A study of 1,000 consumers through Google Consumer Surveys found that online reviews impacted 67.7% of respondents’ purchasing decisions.
It also found that even one negative review can deprive companies of as much as 22% of their consumers; this rises to 59.2% of consumers if the business in question has three negative reviews.
Reviews have a strong influence on consumers because they’re seen as trusted sources of information by Google. This means that they’re likely to appear on the first page of a Google search for your hotel’s name.
The research cited above indicates that more than half of respondents (50.4%) only look at the first page of a Google search. So if an unwanted review pops up on this page it could impact your hotel’s reputation online and deprive you of consumer revenue.
Igniyte case study
Therefore, if you run a hotel it’s vital that you develop an online review management strategy. As an online reputation management company, at Igniyte we’ve seen first-hand how this can prove to be effective.
In this case study, we worked with an international travel company that was facing online reviews and forum posts that they didn’t know how to respond to appropriately.
To address this issue, Igniyte developed a positive review strategy and customer response process which allowed the international travel firm to address online reviews appropriately.
As a result, our work gave the company the ability to improve customer communications globally and raise its profile in new overseas market, which helped the business develop a strong reputation online.
Review strategy tips
Consequently, it’s vital that you develop a strategy to manage online reviews. In Igniyte’s experience, to cultivate a robust review management strategy for your hotel you should:
- Listen: Don’t ignore unwanted reviews. Read and respond to costumer concerns, otherwise they may air their grievances on other review sites and online forums, causing more damage to your hotel’s reputation online. Also, use negative reviews to learn how to improve the service you provide consumers, which will allow you to attract more customers to your hotel.
- Refrain from cheating: Some companies post fake reviews or remove negative reviews to make themselves look better to consumers. This is a mistake, because businesses who pursue these courses of action are nearly always caught, which wreaks further damage on their online reputation. Specifically, posting fake reviews or removing negative ones makes you look dishonest – as though your hotel has something to hide, which’ll make you appear less trustworthy in the eyes of potential consumers.
- Respond personally and professionally: How you respond to customer reviews is essential. Strike a personal tone to show consumers that you empathise with their plight, and will strive to resolve the issue as soon as possible. But remain professional and avoid mentioning your hotel’s flaws to retain your credibility as a first-rate accommodation provider. Also, respond in a timely, approachable manner to limit the damaging effects of a negative online review.
- Move the issue offline: Try to move any communications you engage in with a reviewer offline as soon as possible. We’d suggest that you develop a clear, simple and speedy complaint process for consumers to utilise. This will minimise the amount of negative discussion concerning your hotel online, limiting the damage a negative review can wreak on your hotel’s online reputation.
Protect your online reputation
In conclusion, TripAdvisor’s latest TripBarometer study suggests that its likely consumers will read online reviews before they decide to stay at your hotel. Therefore, it’s essential that you develop a strategy to respond to negative reviews, so you can safeguard your hotel’s online reputation.