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Why Aren’t Hotels Responding to Guest Reviews Online?

Hotel reception with bell

Hotels that respond to reviews see an increase in overall review ratings and booking
inquiries. The benefits are well documented, and yet hoteliers still are not responding.

If a guest fills out a comment card on-site, emails a hotel’s customer service address or even calls to share their frustration or praise about a recent visit, hotels know to read the card, answer the email or return the call. So why, in an age where everything is done online and the majority of consumers rely on travel and hotel reviews before booking a trip, do hoteliers still miss the opportunity of responding to online reviews?

Ideally, hoteliers would pre-empt a negative experience before it ever made it online, while a guest is on-site. Realistically, that is not possible to do each and every time, for each and every guest. When hoteliers are unable to provide the experience that meets or exceeds a guest’s expectations, taking advantage of posting a management response is an important step in protecting a hotel’s online reputation. This step, however, is something only a small amount of hoteliers do with an average of just 36% of hotels responding.

Hotel guests can post reviews of a stay to over 100 review sites, according to the 2014 Hotel Reputation Benchmark Study, however, hotel management is barely responding to two of the largest review sites online. 56% of hoteliers offer replies to TripAdvisor reviews and just 17% respond to those that review their experience on Expedia.

There is ample proof from a variety of studies that it is in a hotel’s best interest for hoteliers to respond to the online reviews that their property receives. Often boosting a hotel’s rank or rating, bookings or booking inquiries and even justifying an increase in room rates.

Consider these guest review statistics:

A 2014 TripAdvisor study noted a connection between the rates of management responses with the average review rating a hotel receives. Properties responding to over 65% of the reviews they received saw an average review rating of 4.15.

Is this because guests magically experience only positive stays? Not according to the researchers at Boston University who deduced that perhaps the most impactful result of providing management response is that, “consumers with a poor experience become less likely to leave a negative review when hotels begin responding.”

This can be seen across the industry where 75% of reviews are four- and five-star reviews while less than 10% are one- and two-star reviews, according to the 2014 Hotel Reputation Benchmark Report. Do not be fooled though, while one-star reviews make up the lowest percentage of all reviews, the number of total reviews are increasing and the volume of both one-star and five-star reviews are seeing the biggest surge.

While hoteliers aren’t responding to reviews, it seems that they recognize that they should be and are taking steps to begin penning replies. According to Ipsos and TripAdvisor’s 2014 TripBarometer Report, six in 10 hoteliers say that investments in reputation management would increase in the next 12 months. The commitment to invest is a new way of thinking for hoteliers who may finally be ready to reap the benefits of replying to reviews by providing management responses. This is the second largest increase in investment priorities, only surpassed by small renovations – a list of property refreshes likely taken from what guests point out in negative reviews.

Hoteliers cannot afford to neglect review responses any longer, especially if their competitive set is making plans to reply to guest reviews. Hoteliers that understand the importance of management responses and how essential it is to invest in them, but may not have the time to take on the task can look to Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle Reputation Management services as a complete solution for handling review responses.

We provide a personalized approach to management responses that hotels find to be invaluable. CoMMingle Reputation Management monitors, collects and researches reviews and provides suggested responses for approval by hotel management. We also post the approved responses to the review sites as a feature of the service. Contact us or call 877.291.4411 to learn more.

Google flight search breaks vow, Expedia says

"Google Inc. is breaking a promise it made to antitrust regulators who approved its purchase of ITA Software Inc. this year by ranking its new flight information service ahead of competitors, according to Expedia Inc.

Google, which introduced its own flight search service Sept. 13, “excludes any link to online travel agencies, which are key options for comparison shopping,’’ according to testimony by Tom Barnett, Expedia’s outside counsel, prepared for delivery today at a Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing on Google’s business practices on the Internet."

via boston.com – read full article

Google, TripAdvisor redefine roles in distribution

"Although the most recent changes to the distribution landscape might not directly affect day-to-day operations today, experts say hoteliers should pay close attention as major players in the space are making moves that could shape the future."

Read the full article at www.hospitalitynet.org

How to manage your hotel’s online reputation

"Everyone’s got an image to protect. As the hotel industry becomes increasingly subjected to the world of customer reviews, hoteliers have developed a term for protecting that image – it’s called “managing your online reputation.”

Read more at www.hotelmarketing.com

Microsoft Bing: Impact on Google, Expedia

"Microsoft's Bing has recently added a new feature called Price Predictors to its travel searches. It suggests if one should buy now or hold off for a better fare based on how fares are trending. Some analysts believe this will have an impact on companies like Expedia and challenge Google's move into travel search."

Read more at www.hotelmarketing.com

Delta, American airlines pull fares off some travel sites

"Travelers wanting to book a flight online will find fewer options now that two of the nation's biggest airlines have stripped their fares from some travel sites.

Those looking to fly on American can no longer book trips on Orbitz as of Dec. 21, while Delta stopped allowing three websites — CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com, and BookIt.com — to list its flights after Dec. 17.

It's a move that more airlines may follow in an effort to cut costs, promote their brand and increase their ability to sell aspects of the travel experience that bolster the bottom line, some travel experts say. But some industry observers worry that the winnowing of booking outlets could ultimately make it harder for consumers to find the best deal."

Read more at www.usatoday.com

More on TripAdvisor blocking Google

"If you're looking for an explanation for TripAdvisor shunning the potential of reaching out to Google's many visitors, it helps to examine its family tree, writes The Motley Fool, in linking the event with Expedia's recent activities around FairSearch.org."

Read more on www.hotelmarketing.com