After a guest visits your property, they may have feedback they want to leave. For the last few years, customer reviews have been aiding in the decision process for consumers buying products of all types, including vacations. In the hospitality industry, customer reviews are providing a heavy influence on potential guests looking to book a vacation.
What’s so Important?
As a consumer sifts through properties to stay at, one thing is certain: they will be looking at customer reviews. Although these can range in thoroughness and length, reviews hold a powerful effect on the performance of your brand. With the number of consumers that trust reviews on the rise, it’s more important than ever to showcase what you have to offer. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as world of mouth recommendations, which is surprising since these reviews are coming from complete strangers.
Reviews don’t just benefit potential guests, they can add value to your property as well. Reviews are simply user-generated content, and as we’ve discussed before, it’s important to have a good mix of user-generated and professional content representing your property. This user generated content can help to boost your organic search rankings. When potential guests are reading these reviews, they’re increasing time spent on your website, nearly doubling the time spent on websites without reviews. Plus, if reviews are posted on your business’ Facebook page, visits to your website from that page will increase significantly.
Encouragement is Key
With reviews providing value to your business and customers alike, it’s important that you continue to gather reviews from as many guests as possible. Reviews aren’t something you should “buy” from your guests, as you want them to remain as authentic as possible. Make your online presence known and encourage guests to leave a review as they’re checking out. If a guest had a great trip, you want their review, so do what you can to make this as simple as possible.
Whenever you’re sending out marketing/promotional material, use that as an opportunity to spread the word about leaving a review. Whether this is providing a link or sending an email that features a short review questionnaire, these efforts will lead to more feedback from travelers. The more work you put in to gather these reviews, the more you’ll receive.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you understand why reviews are important and that some encouragement is helpful to gather these reviews, it’s critical to understand where they’ll benefit your business. When reviews are located on your webpage, potential guests are going to spend more time there. Plus, if your website showcases experiences (like it should), potential guests will be able to connect what previous guests are saying to the experiences portrayed on your website.
What about all of the off-site review sites? Some argue that reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can benefit your business more than having reviews on your own website. With reviews on sites like these, your business has a higher chance of getting into Google’s 3-Pack. Plus, these reviews will be more visible than the ones that are only on your website, since these websites generate more visitors and traffic than your own.
What’s Your Response?
As guests leave reviews, it’s your job to respond to them in a professional and timely manner, regardless of what the traveler said about your business or property. When it comes to a positive review, it is simple to thank a guest for staying at your property and writing a review. But, when a guest has something negative to say, that’s when it’s time to utilize the sandwich method. The sandwich method is pretty simple: Address the guests’ negative statement (the meat) and surround it with two positives (the bread). For example, if a guest had something positive to say about your staff, but had some complaints about your on site restaurant the sandwich method could be useful.
“Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We’re glad you found our staff knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately, it seems like our food did not meet your expectations. If you would like please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to your feedback and would love to see you return!
Keep in mind that a negative review from one guest may be positive in another guest’s mind. For example, if a guest states that your property “is not child friendly”, that may be a negative for that specific guest, but others may find that as a positive, as they’re looking for a child-free trip. Regardless of whether the negative comments can have a positive spin, it’s important to keep them on your website, as it shows you’re not trying to hide anything. These negative comments will also make the positive ones seem more sincere.
Reviews = Revenue
As you can see, customer reviews are not just important to potential travelers, but to your business as well. With the amount of consumers that look at reviews before making a purchase, it is clear that these reviews draw in more guests. A greater number of guests reading your reviews leads to more bookings, which ultimately generates more revenue for your business.