Online reviews provide hotels with the unique opportunity to address guests, manage their online presence, and improve booking or revenue goals by speaking directly to their customers. In this post, we take a deep dive into the importance of guest feedback and explore how to respond to hotel reviews.
There are some regularly repeating questions hotel management and sales teams seem to ask when it comes to online reviews and how to respond to them. We address the most commonly asked questions to provide you with a comprehensive instructional resource, complete with examples and real-life scenarios.
Discover how to respond to hotel reviews and increase your online appeal:
The hospitality industry is incredibly competitive. If you want travellers to choose to stay with you instead of hotels in your comp set, it’s important that you understand how they feel and cater to what they want. Reviews are the perfect opportunity to see what your guests really think and for previous guests to communicate their experience to future travellers.
Why are hotel reviews important to potential guests?
All guest stays are unique to their expectations and experience. While travel plans and accommodation requirements may vary from one guest to another, there are a few major reasons that online guest reviews have such a large impact on a traveller’s decisions.
- Potential future guests can hear about the experience of other travellers first-hand. Was the staff friendly? Was the food good? With the power of internet anonymity, you never know what you may learn from a previous guest.
- Future guests can receive honest feedback from others without worrying that information is being misrepresented to attract their business.
- Guests are able to post and review real-time photos of the property. Professional photography is a must-have for hotel marketing purposes, but travellers want to see the unedited version — without Photoshop, cropping, or saturation and exposure edits.
- Many travellers read online reviews to get tips from other travellers regarding available F&B at the property, local attractions, tips on what to bring, and even room type recommendations.
- The trust travellers have for first-hand reviews plays a large role in which properties they may choose to stay with. In fact, 81% of people "always or frequently" read online reviews before booking overnight accommodations.
How can hotels benefit from reading and responding to reviews?
As beneficial as reviews are for travellers, they are an invaluable resource for hotels and hotel managers as well. Here's why.
- Hotel review responses directly correlate to hotel revenue increases. In fact, properties that respond to at least 65% of their reviews average a TripAdvisor rating of 4.15.
- Online reviews give hoteliers a unique opportunity to see their property through the eyes of a guest and analyse customer feedback.
- In addition to getting feedback on the state of your property, reviews can provide managers a direct look into guest interactions with staff — the good and the bad.
- Reviews can help hotels identify opportunities for improvement in all areas: cleanliness, food and beverage services, and even employee training needs.
The reviews that your hotel receives, and the responses you provide, are a vital component of your online presence. Reviews and their responses can influence the appeal of your property, assumptions about service, and directly drive new business to your property.
Why is responding to online reviews important for hotels?
The benefits that reviews can provide hotels are almost endless, but there are a few key reasons why responding to hotel reviews should also be a priority for management.
- When team leaders respond to criticism with thoughtful and motivated responses, or show gratitude for guest appreciation, they're setting a tone for the expected service level at the property. When future travellers see that the staff is engaged and responsive, they're more likely to trust that any needs that arise during their stay will be met.
- Constructive hotel responses that demonstrate proactivity appeal to travellers. When managers acknowledge guest issues, maintenance concerns, or other complaints, and make a commitment to improvement, it demonstrates integrity and reliability.
- Responses give team leaders the option to invite unhappy guests to contact them for a personal one-on-one follow-up. When speaking with a guest directly, the guest is more likely to open up about the issues they experienced, giving you a chance to commit to making their next stay better. This builds customer loyalty.
- Review responses will set you apart from other properties. Only 36% of hotels respond to reviews on booking sites, and you should always be aiming to set yourself apart from your comp set.
How should hotels respond to positive reviews?
Today’s travellers are savvy and are accustomed to having generic content thrown in their faces all day, every day. They can smell a cookie-cutter template response from a mile away. Follow these tips to provide authentic responses and get the most out of the free marketing that accompanies hotel responses.
- To personalise your response, address the reviewer by name or screen name.
- Add a signature line to your response. Your signature could designate a specific manager or the “guest service staff” based on your individual preference.
- Using “we” statements in positive review responses demonstrates a sense of community within the hotel. “I’ responses may be more beneficial when responding to negative reviews, as they demonstrate personal accountability and commitment to improvement.
- “We are thrilled that you enjoyed your time with us.”
- “I am sorry to hear that your stay did not meet your expectations. I would like to invite you to contact me to discuss…”
While it isn’t necessary to respond to every positive review, positive responses should still be personalised, genuine, and reflective of the guest’s experience.
How should hotels respond to negative reviews?
Be courteous, professional, and show empathy. If a guest is taking the time to write a negative review of their experience, it’s because they want to be heard.
Acknowledge their experience, take responsibility for any issues that arose, and invite the guest to contact the property directly to discuss their stay in more detail. This helps create a personal bond with the guest, shows them that you’re not afraid of accountability, and opens the door for future, improved interactions. A follow-up phone call or face-to-face conversation with an unhappy traveller can turn them into a “best guest” overnight.
Should review responses be a high priority for hotels?
All hoteliers can agree on the universal truth that, when it comes to hotel management, there's always more work to be done. No matter how hard you work, or how many hours you spend on-property, there are always items left on the “to do” list at the end of the day.
If you think of your duties as a hierarchy, then immediate guest needs, staff assistance, and meeting revenue goals will likely take priority over responding to reviews. To make the most impact, however, you can restructure your thought process by realising that regularly reading and responding to guest reviews can help tackle each one of those big-picture priorities.
Should hotels respond to every review?
With such full plates, we have to realistically admit that responding to every review, on every platform, may not be practical — or even possible. Here are some tips to help ensure that you spend your already thinly-stretched time where it matters most.
- Focus on providing well-thought-out and constructive responses to negative reviews as opposed to acknowledging every guest compliment.
- Too many review responses can actually be worse than no response from a hotel at all. A multitude of impersonal or generic responses makes the property look more disingenuous than dedicated.
- To maintain a steady, efficient, and beneficial response rate, aim to respond to around 40% of all hotel reviews — the statistical sweet spot.
- Try to respond to all 1-2 star reviews.
Where can hotel guests leave online reviews?
Modern travellers can visit numerous sites and social platforms to research hotels and discuss their experiences. Create and maintain a property profile on the most common review sites to get as much feedback as possible. These websites include:
Monitor these sites regularly to ensure accuracy. Property details and contact information should be consistent across all platforms.
What strategies should a hotel implement when responding to reviews?
Make reading and responding to reviews a streamlined and efficient process for your hotel. To set yourself up for success, implement the following best practices to get the most of your property’s online reviews.
- Identify and delegate departmental duty. Will review responses be a task for operations, sales, or the guest service manager? Will you alternate duties?
- Set up a hotel Gmail account that’s attached to all of your online hotel profiles. Enable email notifications for all of your accounts so you can get review alerts in real-time, all in one place.
- Use a consistent and professional voice when responding to reviews.
- Accentuate the positive features and benefits that your hotel has to offer to influence your reviews.
- Have a guideline set for offering partial refunds, giveaways, certificates, or other surprises to dissatisfied guests. Words are important, but actions speak louder.
- Respond to all negative reviews as quickly as possible. The ideal response time is between 24-48 hours.
- Train all hotel employees on your hotel’s best practice guidelines and protocols. Consistency is key.
Examples of how to respond to hotel reviews:
Now that you know how to respond to hotel reviews, it’s time to create your property guidelines and implement the response best practices that will benefit your hotel the most. Below, we’ve included examples of guest reviews that you may encounter, as well as examples of potential responses. See if you can identify which strategies are being utilised in each response, and how you may implement them in your future responses.
Guest review No. 1:
I loved everything about this property! The staff was super nice, it was clean, and I could easily walk to four different restaurants. 10/10 would recommend!
Hotel response No. 1:
Thank you for taking the time to post a review of our property. We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your time at Far East Hospitality. Our goal is always to exceed your expectations! If there’s anything we can help you with during your next visit, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We hope to see you soon!
- Far East Hospitality guest service team
Guest review No. 2:
Pretty much what I expected from Far East Hospitality. Average stay. Nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about.
- Frank M.
Hotel response No. 2:
Thank you for telling us about your recent stay. If you don't mind, please reach out to our Guest Service Manager, Tina Lackey, to discuss your experience in more detail. Customer satisfaction is our No. 1 priority here at Far East Hospitality, and we'd love another opportunity to wow you.
- Far East Hospitality service team
Guest review No. 3:
Don’t book here! I found hair in my bed and in the sink. When I called the front desk to move rooms, they didn’t seem to have any concern. They told me they were sold out and there was nothing they could do. I will never stay here again.
Hotel response No. 3:
Thank you for letting us know about the issues that you experienced during your recent stay at our property. Reviews like these give us an opportunity to address areas of improvement. Guest satisfaction is our top priority, and I humbly request that you contact me directly to discuss your experience in more detail.
I take great pride in the service our hotel provides, and I'm always looking for ways to improve those services, identify training opportunities, and provide an outstanding guest experience. I look forward to hearing from you and learning how we can make this right.
Robin Fields, General Manager
Now you know how to respond to hotel reviews!
Remember, responding to reviews — both positive and negative — plays a massive role in hotel reputation management. Don't let your customers go unnoticed.
Up next, maximise your property's marketing efforts even further with our 7 hotel marketing trends for 2022.