Get It Right: Your Guide to Online Review Management for Hotels

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
Updated
November 1, 2023
/
Published
October 26, 2023
Get It Right: Your Guide to Online Review Management for Hotels

Think for a minute: how often did you review products and services online in the past year?

Your guests do the same. Nearly half of all travelers leave reviews when they’re delighted with their stay. Even more of them share their feedback when they have a bad hotel experience.

That creates a great opportunity for your hotel. With the right approach to online review management, you can strategically encourage positive feedback. This, in turn, can help you position yourself as the go-to choice for guests.

In short, solid online review management lets you show that you offer the facilities, services and experiences they crave and win over their business!

If you want to do more of that, here are the best tips to level up your review game in the article below.

What Is Online Hotel Reputation Management?

Online hotel reputation management includes everything you do to improve how people perceive your hotel online. The most important part of online reputation management is monitoring and responding to reviews. You can find them on platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp, various OTAs and social media. Tracking guest feedback also helps you detect and solve problems, so your hotel and brand maintain their positive online image.

Why is Online Review Management so Important?

Online hotel reviews impact your business in many ways. TripAdvisor and other sources offer some impressive data on this topic.

According to them, online reviews:

     
  • Are a key part of a traveler’s booking process: 81% of people read reviews before choosing a hotel. Having positive and recent reviews gives you more visibility on review platforms and OTAs which helps potential guests find you.
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  • Provide social proof that helps you drive more bookings: 79% of travelers would book a hotel with a higher rating when choosing between two otherwise equal properties. That’s especially important in competitive markets and during low season where every booking counts.
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  • Increase your ability to generate revenue: Cornell research found that if a hotel increases its review scores by one point, it can raise its rates by 11.2% all while maintaining the same occupancy level.
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  • Show guests you value feedback and care about their experience: Responding to reviews shows you’re genuinely interested in travelers’ opinions and how their stay went. This can set the stage for a repeat visit and win over potential bookers who are impressed by your hospitality.
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  • Reveal common issues: Keep an eye on your reviews to quickly find out about and address any service shortcomings at your hotel. That could be a simple maintenance issue or consistently slow service in one department.
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  • Lead to even more positive reviews: Research from Harvard Business Review found that on average, hoteliers who start responding to guest feedback receive 12% more reviews, and their overall ratings increase. That creates a virtuous cycle which enhances the previous points. An easy way to get more top ratings is to ask your guests for them. Canary can help you automate this step, so you can drive reviews on autopilot.

Trends in Online Review Management

Online hotel reviews are gaining importance in online distribution. That has taken hotel reputation management from a ‘nice to have’ to an absolute must.

Here’s why:

     
  • Strong need for social proof: People want amazing, personalized stays. Great reviews from fellow travelers give them the confidence that you’ll provide the experience they want.
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  • Increased competition: More and more hoteliers are starting to use online review management as a marketing and sales tool. If you don’t get on board, you’ll miss out while your competitors reap the benefits.
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  • Improved visibility: Continuously getting fresh reviews helps your online profiles show up higher on results pages. That can drive more traffic and lead to new bookings.
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  • Continued relevance: Google is testing ways to use reviews as answers to searches and questions about hotels and destinations. That could get even more eyeballs on your property in the future if guests repeatedly describe and praise your services and facilities.

Best Practices for Hotel Online Review Management

Online review management has three important elements:

     
  1. Responding to hotel reviews professionally
  2.  
  3. Driving more positive hotel reviews
  4.  
  5. Using software to streamline online review management

Below, you’ll find ideas and best practices for all three areas. Let’s start with managing the online reviews you’re already getting.

Responding to Hotel Reviews Professionally

Guests are reviewing your hotel? Fantastic! Here are five things to keep in mind when you reply to public feedback.

1. Answer as Many Reviews as Possible

Ideally, you’d respond to all hotel reviews. But if you’re pressed for time, it may be tempting to reply only to the raving fans. After all, it’s fun to hear from guests who loved their stay. On the other hand, it may feel more urgent to apologize to guests who complained and try to make up for your mistake.

If it’s impossible to respond to everyone, pick a mix of positive and negative reviews to reply to. For example, you can get back to happy guests who left elaborate comments and those who have bigger complaints. Such a mix is important because it shows you care and want to offer the best experience to every guest.

2. Respond in a Timely Manner

The faster you can get back to reviews the better, especially when there’s a complaint. According to ReviewTracker, 53% of customers expect a response to negative reviews within a week. Fast responses show that you want to fix things quickly and don’t avoid difficult situations.

3. Keep Hotel Brand Voice and Guidelines in Mind

Use a consistent tone of voice and style when responding to reviews. That’s easiest if only one person handles your online review management. If multiple people are doing it or you need to train new staff, create a style guide. This helps everyone stick to your branding and ensure your responses match your overall style.

4. Write a Personalized, Relevant Reply

It may be tempting to have templates for different scenarios and reuse them regularly. While this saves you time, guests don’t appreciate seeing the same boilerplate too often. It can even cancel out the positive effect of responding to reviews. Yes, it takes time to craft individual answers but it also yields greater benefits.

Generative AI such as ChatGPT can help you craft relevant, compelling and unique responses in a fraction of the time. Of course you’ll still want to review and tweak the suggested reply. But that’s usually much faster than writing the whole thing yourself.

Learn more about how to use generative AI to streamline guest communication and improve hotel efficiency in our free eBook, The Ultimate Guide to AI in Hospitality.

5. Stay Professional and Courteous

This can be hard, especially when there’s a complaint that you think isn’t justified. But defensive responses make a bad impression, even if you’re actually right.

Next time you’re responding to a complaint, make sure your response ticks these boxes:

     
  • Thank the guest for their feedback.
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  • Apologize for the issue they experienced.
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  • Offer a solution and outline how you’ve addressed the problem with your team.
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  • Show that you’d like to welcome them back.

Stay Professional and Courteous

Here’s how that could look:

Dear John Doe,

Thank you for your review and taking the time to share your experience at the Beachside Hotel. It’s wonderful that you liked your room so much and appreciated the locally-sourced amenities.

We were sorry to read that you didn’t enjoy your breakfast as much as you’d hoped. Our chef is taking your feedback regarding the limited variety to heart and is working on adding new menu options. The same goes for our service. Delays like the ones you faced are not up to our standards and we’ve implemented extra training to help our team improve.

Again, we apologize that not everything about your stay matched your expectations. We’re continuously working on improving and would love to welcome you back soon.

Best regards,

The Beachside Hotel Team

Driving More Positive Hotel Reviews

If you’re writing too many review responses like the one above, you may be wondering, ‘how can I improve my hotel reviews?’ Follow these five steps and you’ll be on a solid path.

1. Set the Right Expectations

This starts before the guest even books. Provide accurate descriptions of your hotel and its services on your website, OTAs, and more. Ensure people know key information e.g. check-in and check-out times, pet policies, the pool’s opening hours, etc. If you often get complaints about certain points, e.g., your remote location or a construction site nearby, highlight them prominently, so guests don’t experience unpleasant surprises.

2. Communicate with Guests Pre-Stay

Reconfirm what guests have booked a few days before their arrival and share key information once more to ensure they don’t miss it. Then ask if there’s anything else they need and offer relevant upsells or service add-ons that can improve their experience. A guest management system like Canary helps you automate this step and create a tailored stay for every traveler.

3. Offer Attentive, Personalized Service

As an experienced hotelier you know what your guests love and how to make them happy. Ensure your team has the tools and resources to always do their best work and fulfill your guests’ wishes. That can include tech-driven solutions that save your staff time and help them create a smooth, personalized guest journey from the research phase until after check-out.

4. Check on In-House Guests

Send an automated message to in-house guests to see how their stay is going. This helps you discover problems and solve them while they’re still with you. As a result, you avoid negative online reviews and even increase your chances of positive feedback after a good service recovery.

5. Ask Your Happiest Guests for Reviews

If you know someone loved every minute of their stay, ask them for an online review. But how do you find out which guests would leave a five-star rating? One easy way is to ask them for feedback via an internal survey first. Then prompt the ones who sing the highest praise to share their review publicly. Read on to discover how you can save time and scale this process to get more of those coveted five-star ratings.

Using Software to Streamline Online Review Management

Tracking and managing online reviews on OTAs, review platforms and social media can be a big time commitment for your team. It might not even be possible for them to find and respond to all reviews in a timely manner.

Use software to streamline online reviews

In that case, consider implementing guest communication and review management software to save time and improve your online reputation.

Here are three ways these systems can support you.

1. Automate Post-Stay Outreach and Feedback Requests

Asking guests for reviews during check-out is great but not the most effective or efficient approach. Tools that streamline guest communication can handle this step and send a post-departure email to gather feedback from all travelers.

When they respond, the system filters for the happiest guests and prompts them to share their review publicly. Canary Smart Check-out can automate all these steps for you. This brings you more great reviews, all while spending less time spent on getting them. As a result, you can boost your number of five-star ratings by up to 35%.

“We’ve tried so hard to get more guests to provide good reviews on Google and TripAdvisor, but it has historically been pretty difficult. But with Canary’s platform we’ve seen real success in driving positive reviews on these sites,” said Rushi Patel, General Manager of the Clarion Pointe Greensboro Airport, about working with Canary’s Smart Check-out module.

2. Track and Answer All Reviews in a Single Interface

Dedicated online revenue management platforms gather guest feedback from all sites and present it in a single clean dashboard. This makes it easy to see your overall score, find recent reviews, spot performance trends and benchmark against competitor rankings. Many of these solutions even allow you to respond directly within the platform to avoid having to log in to all profiles individually.

3. Draft Appropriate Responses Quickly

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find many tools that help you draft responses. Thanks to integrations with ChatGPT they can instantly write a great first draft. All you need to do is ensure it’s relevant and professional, perhaps tweak it a bit and you’re good to go. This can save your team hours and help you make a good impression by increasing your response rate.

Positive Reviews: Your Key to Unlocking Your Hotel’s Revenue Potential

Your online reputation impacts both your ability to win over guests and how much you can charge. That makes managing your hotel reviews critical to maximizing bookings and revenue.

Get the most of this strategy with software that streamlines online review management. This saves time, drives more reviews and shows appreciation for your guests’ feedback. And when your topline and your overall review score increase, you’ll know the effort was worth it.

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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