Earlier this year we published our Global Hotel Reputation Benchmark Report, where we shared data about the rise of Google reviews. According to our analysis, Google reviews accounted for 70% of the net growth across all review sites last year. With so much more user-generated content appearing on Google, many hoteliers are looking for effective ways to manage their reviews, so keep reading for best practices and tactical tips.
According to a Google report titled Summer 2017 Hotel Search Opportunity, 38% of travelers start their travel-planning processes within search engines. They might type in a hotel name or search pet-friendly hotels in San Francisco to explore hotels with the right amenities. Only 8% of travelers begin their search on an online travel agency (OTA), so you should leverage reviews on Google to get prospects excited about your hotel.
Type a hotel name into Google and you will see the importance of managing your reviews. Under the map, you will see your overall review rating and the ability to read reviews. With pricing immediately available, you need a stellar star rating to get prospects to book without doing additional research and looking beyond your hotel. Without an impressive star rating, your prospects might continue their search without doing a deeper dive.
Like other review sites, Google allows hoteliers that have claimed their business to respond to reviews. As always, we advise that hoteliers take the opportunity to show guests that you pay attention to feedback and use it to make improvements. Reply to as many reviews as you can, ensuring that the responses are personalized and not copied and pasted from a template. We recommend responding to every negative review, 50% of 3-star reviews, and 25% of positive reviews.
But what if a guest leaves a star rating without a comment? If time allows, use these open-ended review responses as opportunities to share news about the hotel. For example, “I was surprised to see a negative star rating as the hotel has been inundated with positive reviews lately as we just completed full renovations of our lobby and guestrooms. I would love more feedback on your experience if you would like to contact the hotel.” Or, “I was disappointed to see this rating without feedback as we use reviews to retrain our staff. If you would be willing to reach out, we would love to discuss your experience.”
What if you think a review might be fake? While it’s hard to prove to Google that a review is fake, you can notify Google about a violation of their review policy by hovering over the review and clicking the flag icon to flag it. While you wait for their response, respond to the review in a way that makes it clear to other readers that you’re doubtful. For example, you can say, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review. We take all negative feedback very seriously and investigate all claims. In this case, we were unable to find any record of your stay/the incident and think you may have erroneously posted this review to our listing. If this isn’t a mistake, please reach out so that we can discuss your claims.”
While reviews are important for every business, they are especially important for hotels because of the real-estate they are given to search engines and OTAs during the buyer’s journey. If you’re not already using an aggregation and analysis solution like Revinate Reputation, you could be spending a lot more time than is necessary searching for reviews, managing responses, and tracking your performance. Revinate has been working with hoteliers since 2009, and we have built a library of helpful resources along the way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with specific questions.