Numerous research confirmed that there are correlations between hotel performance, number of reviews and the ratings of those reviews. More importantly, this has been backed up several times by our clients’ sales results.
The importance of presence on social media for tourism brands is ancient news. The importance of presence on independent pages such as TripAdvisor, CampingInfo or Yelp unfortunately still isn’t. To a great deal of brands, the entire „feedback thing“ seems way too insignificant to bear in mind.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESENCE
It’s pretty similar to the “look” that you present with your clothes – irrelevant of whether you spent two hours in front of the mirror choosing that perfect outfit or just put on the first thing you find, it’s inevitable you will “look” somehow to people. The same is true for reputation – it exists and influences your potential guests’ stay, whether you see to it or not.
To give you a clearer picture on how ratings influence your sales, look at the model below.
A very simple continuous process takes place season after season, year after year – leaving you with enhanced or worsened long term-potential, whether you are aware of it or not.
Once a guest experiences your brand, they can leave a review on your social media channels, their personal profiles or use word of mouth. Depending on the tone of the review, other potential guests can decide if they will (or won’t) trust the brand, i.e. book their stay with you. By building a trustworthy connection to your (potential) guests, you increase the number of new guests. Consequently, new guests’ ratings travel across the internet and reach new potential guests, closing the circle of reputation, trust and sales.
From various forums back in the day to the rise of independent pages, we have reached a point where guests can thoroughly explore independent ratings before planning their trips without having to worry that they’ve in any way been influenced by the brand. We all believe a human’s word more than a commercial, the only question is, how can you, as a brand, use this?
THE POWER OF INTERACTION
Instead of looking at feedback as a valuable input to work on (or at least prepare for the potential PR crisis), many brands choose to ignore or hide comments or ratings they received. Believing that such short-term solutions will help them gain more customers usually harms them in the long run. Why? Firstly, you have an unsatisfied customer who will spread the negative feedback around. Secondly, in case of a very persistent individual, there comes a point when you won’t be able to hide all of the comments that the guest posted. Finally, and most importantly, you’ll miss the chance to use the feedback to show other customers that you care and are able to react quickly to fix all potential negative situations. This is the crucial part.
If you decide to tackle the issue the very moment it arises, you address a larger population of potential guests that are researching your brand. Even if there was a significant oversight, it is crucial that you react to it by offering an explanation, apology (if necessary) and a plan for further action. This enables you not only to retain the existing customer, but to start an emotional relationship with the guest – admitting you were wrong and offering a solution. In the most extreme cases, it may even help you to avoid legal repercussions.
THE VALUE OF A RESPONSE
From a community manager’s perspective, reviews are an excellent way for hospitality industry brands to communicate with target audiences. It all starts with a communication plan and deciding how to respond to reviews. At Degordian, we respond to every single review, positive and negative as it shows client’s interest in customers’ feedbacks and highlights their dedication to providing a high-quality service.
Trip Advisor’s survey from 2013 shows that 77% of respondents who saw a hotel’s response believe that the hotel cares more about their guests, which is something we have on our mind while managing reviews.
The positive ones show client’s gratitude and builds strong relationships with guests, and that ultimately leads to them coming back year after year. On the other hand, it is crucial to react to negative reviews with an adequate response that’s built on proven facts or information as it shows the willingness to make things right.
Our responses to negative reviews are tailored to a specific brand’s voice and values, and they usually consist of the following:
- appreciation – we thank every guest for their review
- kindness and friendliness – we don’t want our responses to offend the guest in any way, whether they’re right or wrong
- understanding the guest – we show that we understand where the guest is coming from
- showing importance – we emphasize our intention to work on always improving our services
- facts and information – we provide additional information when needed
- communication openness – we always answer all of the questions that guests may ask
Bear in mind that when responding to any kind of a review, it will not be visible only to the reviewer, but also to every potential guest who considers booking an accommodation at your place. Every opinion and every guest matters, so don’t be afraid of negative reviews. They could easily be the beginning of a conversation which can lead to a lasting, positive relationship.
THE RESULT OF COMMUNICATION
Working on a various set of services for our client Camping Village Šimuni, we have embraced this approach. As a confirmation that the customers’ needs have been looked after, we have attained a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. We continue to work with the client on every piece of rating or feedback received, making sure to develop a great service that will result in maintaining a great reputation.
The feedback is not only relevant, it is also necessary if your goal is to instigate the growth of your brand. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can start developing a more meaningful relationship with current and potential customers and tailor your services to their exact wants and needs. In the end, that’s what it’s all about, wouldn’t you agree?