In an era where human activity is conducted as much online as it is in the real world, review websites are a critical component of the travel and hospitality industries. So, just how important are online reviews? Here are a few statistics to give you an idea.
- Don’t underestimate the number of people who are potentially viewing reviews about your property. Cornell School of Hotel Administration reports that TripAdvisor has more than 350 million unique visitors per month.
- A better rating translates to higher revenue. If a hotel increases its review scores by one point on a five-point scale, they can raise room prices by 11.2 percent without suffering a loss of market share.
- Watch your responses! Tnooz found that 64 percent of travelers are less likely to book a room at a hotel that replies aggressively to negative online reviews.
- But make sure you do respond. An overwhelming 78 percent of travelers say that seeing management responses to online reviews gives them a favorable impression of the hotel, as it shows they care about their guests.
- That said, responding to reviews stops being effective after a certain threshold. Cornell School of Hotel Administration revealed that once a hotel passes the 40 percent response point, revenue actually starts to decline. After the 85 percent point, revenues are lower than if the hotel hadn’t responded at all.
- Reviews are important — so important that 53 percent of travelers will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on TripAdvisor or another online review site.
- And according to TripAdvisor, 77 percent of travelers will not book a hotel until they have at least read a few reviews.
- When it comes to scathing reviews, there’s good news: 59 percent of travelers say they ignore extreme reviews when evaluating whether or not to book at a property.
- Better yet, according to Econsultancy, 68 percent of consumers actually trust reviews more when they are a mix of positive and negative — and 30 percent of consumers suspect that reviews are fake when they don’t see any negative ones at all.
- Word of mouth is a powerful thing. When it comes to making purchases, a Nielsen study revealed that 83 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family. In the same vein, 66 percent of consumers trust the opinions of strangers that are posted online.
- After the price of an accommodation, TripAdvisor claims its score on an online review website is the most important factor they consider when choosing where to book.
- Of the consumers that have asked for assistance through digital means, Convince and Convert found that 32 percent expect a response within half an hour and 42 percent expect a response within 60 minutes.
- Addressing unhappy customers online is key: Social Media Today says that 95 percent of unhappy customers say they will return to a business if their issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.
What does it all mean? There are a few takeaways:
- There is a direct ROI benefit to throwing every resource — within reason, anyway — into making your guests happy. Resolving their problems won’t just compel them to return; it will also encourage them to write more favorable reviews about your property, which in turn leads to the opportunity for increased revenue.
- Managing online reviews is a delicate balancing act. Guests can be influenced by any number of factors: When there aren’t enough user reviews, when there are too many positive reviews, and when there are too many replies by the brand. As suggested by this Cornell report, it is perhaps more effective to be strategic with responses and focus on replying to negative reviews rather than positive ones.
- Guests who complain via social media expect a speedy response, so it’s important to have someone monitoring these channels at all times. Brands should consider setting up Google news alerts and monitoring @ mentions on social media to make sure nothing slips past them.
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