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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.

Absence of a Guest Review System Could Land Your Hotel on the NAUGHTY List

Looking for the "gift that keeps on giving" this holiday season? A gift that gives travelers a feeling of appreciation, knowing their personal service requests have been heard? What about a gift for owners that improves the hotel's perceptions in the online marketplace and impacts purchasing decisions of future guests, resulting in a more healthy bottom line? This ideal gift is not a specialty item, nor is it a here-today/gone-tomorrow fad. It's something that 71% of travelers say they want and 68% say determines whether or not they at your hotel, according to Forrester Research and TripAdvisor. This gift is the Guest Review System available from Lodging Interactive.

Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System is hotel-based guest comment system which enables guests to post comments about their hotel experience and provides hotel management with the ability to respond in real time when reviews are received. The Guest Review System ensures there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property or has the opportunity to post negative reviews on third-party websites. Additionally, travelers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. If the legitimacy of a negative review is in question, hoteliers can validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website, providing hotels with complete control on which reviews are made public.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
"No matter how great the service, there will always be a Scrooge ready to write a bad review," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Oftentimes complaints are justified and demand an immediate response and resolution. Other times, the rant is simply a bad seed planted by a competitor looking to give the hotel a black eye. Nonetheless, each provides a critical opportunity for the hotel to put its best foot forward."

A 2011 Forrester study found that close to 50 percent of consumers will not book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews. Likewise, PhocusWright reports that people who read online hotel reviews are 59 percent more likely to book. Hoteliers can't afford to ignore these statistics, yet many still do. As of August, only 32% of hotels worldwide are responding to reviews, according to a recent Tnooz article. That leaves a large universe of hoteliers who are turning a blind eye to their customers. The hotels that are engaging with guests are seeing a 6% increase in review scores (Tnooz).

"Replying to reviews gives travelers confidence that they are booking at a hotel that will take care of their needs," Vallauri said. "Even responses to negative reviews written about a hotel makes 79% of travelers feel reassured, according to Forrester researchers. In today's economy, giving guests assurance and comfort is critical to gaining market share and boosting occupancy, average daily rate, revenue per available room and the bottom line. Investing in a Guest Review System is a small price to pay for loyalty and repeat business."

The Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive is low cost and can be implemented in about 10 minutes. All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code inserted on the hotel's Website. Once initiated, managers can immediately begin collecting real-time reviews on their own websites and respond to customer concerns in real time. As an option, the company is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf if staffing is an issue.

"Lodging Interactive can help hotels that may have had below average guest-satisfaction scores move from the NAUGHTY to NICE list easily while rebuilding credibility, restoring consumer confidence, and regaining lost business from third-party review sites simply by adding our Guest Review System to their websites," Vallauri said. "It's easy to win guests' over — even before they arrive — simply by posting your position about guest service, immediately fixing what may be broke, and saying 'thank you' to those who complement you for a job well done."

The following are the Top 10 Rants and Raves in 2012 based on a survey of 1 million guest reviews that landed hotels on either the NAUGHTY or NICE list as reported on Tnooz:

 NAUGHTY
  1. Unprofessional/incompetent service (11,785 mentions)
  2. Small room (8,669 mentions)
  3. Expensive/overpriced (8,390 mentions)
  4. Tasteless, bad breakfast (8,243 mentions)
  5. Bad food (5,956 mentions)
  6. Dirty room (5,439 mentions)
  7. Unfriendly service (5,123 mentions)
  8. Bad bathroom (4,600 mentions)
  9. Bad service (4,266 mentions)
 10. Loud, noisy room (4,123 mentions)

  NICE
  1. Friendly, professional, efficient service (103,440 mentions)
  2. Great, well-situated location (98,668 mentions)
  3. Good room (40,191 mentions)
  4. Great food (42,868 mentions)
  5. Great breakfast (41,356 mentions)
  6. Clean room/hotel (27,513 mentions)
  7. Large room (23,867 mentions)
  8. Good, affordable price (23,292 mentions)
  9. Good bed (11,369 mentions)
 10. Nice view (9,147 mentions)

"Travelers have no problem telling the world what they like and don't like about your hotel," Vallauri said. "It's important that hoteliers take the NICE approach to their response: Be thankful, polite, and respectful of guests, even if the complaint is not warranted. Remain calm and always be courteous. Tell the guest how the situation will be addressed and what the next steps are. Tell the guest that you deem the complaint to be serious, and that there is a plan in place to resolve the matter. More importantly, give each guest a way to stay in touch with management, and invite further feedback."

Hoteliers Take Control Of Guest Reviews For Less Than $65 Per Month

In a recent Wall Street Journal Article titled "Big Flaws in Hotel Rankings," it was said that "influencing reviews and ratings is a time-honored tradition in the hotel and restaurant industries." After about five years of printing reader letters about hotels in the 1960s, travel-guidebook legend Arthur Frommer said he realized that hotels were writing letters about themselves. "Hotels are so dependent on reviews that of course they will generate their own," Frommer said. "They would be crazy not to." As for online reviews, which have replaced guidebooks for many travelers, Mr. Frommer has disdain. "It's a vast buzzing, blooming confusion."

Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, has designed a way to remove this "blooming confusion" from the "buzzing," online marketing/social media equation. The company's Guest Review System sits on a hotel's proprietary website and enables travelers to post comments and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

"The impact that guest review sites are having today on consumers buying decisions is off the charts — just look at the rapid growth of TripAdvisor and its competitors Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotels.com," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "The rise in review-site popularity — and their associated challenges — has spurred some of the large brands, such as Starwood and Marriott, to migrate the review process to their proprietary websites. This is good for the industry overall. With the brands leading the way, soon hotels of all sizes and across all segments will follow suit, leveling the playing field for hotels worldwide and making the industry more competitive and more in control of their reputations. Hotels that want to jump on the bandwagon but don't know how or where to start, can easily and affordably turn to Lodging Interactive."

All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code attached to their Website. Once initiated, hotels can immediately begin collecting real-time reviews on their own websites and respond to customer concerns in real time. This empowers hoteliers to interact personally with valued customers. When guests take the time to post their experiences, their time, effort and patronage should be recognized and rewarded with an immediate reply. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property.

"Third-party review sites do have merit when they make interaction between the reviewer and hotel possible — but that's not often the case," Vallauri said. "As hotels strive to deliver the ultimate customer service today, adding a proprietary Guest Review System raises the bar for service delivery and gives operators the ability to really sell their hotels. With direct bookings on a continual climb industrywide, adding this service to the hotel's website is the next evolution in website optimization and improved customer relations."

As an added benefit of the Guest Review System, travelers are encouraged to share their reviews on Facebook with their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website.

FREE GRS Trial
Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. When the trial concludes, hotels can maintain the service for about $60 per month with no long-term agreements and the ability to cancel at any time.

Yelp Reports Wider Loss for 2011 After Marketing, Development Costs Climb – Bloomberg

Yelp Inc. (YELP), the user-generated review site that’s planning an initial public offering, reported a wider loss in 2011 after increasing spending to attract reviewers and make the service easier to use.

via www.bloomberg.com

Tripadvisor banned from claiming its reviews are real – Telegraph

They argued that wording on Tripadvisor’s website – claiming that the site contained “reviews you can trust” and “honest” opinions from “real travellers” – was misleading as Tripadvisor could not prove that the reviews were genuine.

via www.telegraph.co.uk

Hotels Collect Guest Reviews From Facebook

Lodging Interactive, an award winning Interactive and Social Media Marketing Agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, announced today the integration of its Guest Review System with Facebook. The Facebook integration enables hotels to collect and share their guest reviews right from their hotel Facebook pages.

“Our Guest Review System continues to gain momentum with hotels, restaurants, and spas since our launch only 3 weeks ago,” said Mr. DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President. “And now with the integration into Facebook hotel pages, hotels have an opportunity to collect and share their guest reviews to over 800 million Facebook users.”

The Guest Review System is an online service that enables hospitality companies to collect, manage and share guest reviews on their own websites. As a result, consumers no longer need to visit third-party review sites to read reviews or to leave their own reviews.

“The Guest Review System is integrated into our Facebook page and it’s a great way for consumers to have instant access to our guest reviews and ratings. Also past guests can share their own reviews via our Facebook page,” said Mr. Ed Reagoso, General Manager of The Grand Wilshire Hotel in West Orange, NJ. “The Guest Review Service allows me to validate all reviews for authenticity and I receive real-time alert messages every time a review is made.”

 

Another benefit of the Guest Review System is that it allows hotel management to respond to guest reviews, which often helps consumers make informed choices. “Nowadays, every hotel should routinely monitor online reviews closely,” added Mr. Vallauri. “This makes our Guest Review System increasingly valuable because it allows management to control online reviews and post responses as needed”.

The Guest Review System is a low cost, turnkey system for any hotel seeking the ability to control its own guest reviews. “There is no programming required and hotels can be up and running in just minutes,” said Mr. Vallauri. “It’s very easy to use and we even offer a free trial with no long-term agreements, hotels can cancel anytime.”

More Information: www.GuestReviewSystem.com

Reaction To Controversial TripAdvisor Reviews

It’s getting to be “review turnabout time” as more tourist-oriented providers attempt to dilute the influence of TripAdvisor in an effort to take more control of reviews.  New article worth reading on Travel Mole:

http://www.travelmole.com/stories/1149941.php?mpnlog=1&m_id=_rY!Y!s~vY

 

 

The Value Of Hotel Guest Reviews By Lodging Interactive

It’s no secret to anyone by now that user generated content (“UGC”) in the form of guest reviews continues to be on the rise.  It seems as if there are new websites popping up everywhere to empower the consumer to provide their perspective as it relates to their experience with your business.  This sharing process is a natural evolution in social media and it is especially important for hoteliers to take it seriously and not “blow it off” as we have seen many do.

According to the recently published PhoCusWright Social Media In Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity & Sentiment report, the volume of posted hotel reviews in the U.S. alone has grown from 880,000 in 2008 to nearly 1.1 million in 2010.  The average number of posted hotel reviews per month, per 100 rooms,  was also up significantly from 2.5 reviews in 2009 to 3.1 in 2010.  Interestingly the report also stated that properties in the one, two and three star categories all saw a significant increase in guest review posts while four and five star properties both saw declines.

Unfortunately some General Managers still believe most negative hotel reviews are “planted” by their competition or posted by disgruntled guests looking for freebies or refunds.  While we have seen much evidence of this on review sites, and some hotels are reportedly banding together to form a class action defamation lawsuit against TripAdvisor, we believe all posted reviews should be dealt with as if 100% sincere; posted guest reviews do effect revenue opportunities for the property.

Studies have shown that 75% of online travel buyers will check at least three reviews sites before booking online.  Now imagine a hotel that doesn’t respond to a negative guest review post which is read by thousands of potential guests.  The revenue impact to the property is real and when you consider the cost involved to initially acquire the interest of that potential guest it is fiscally irresponsible to no respond to negative guest review posts; yet so many hoteliers do not reply.  The PhoCusWright Social Media In Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity & Sentiment report also describes that visitors to Online Travel Agency (“OTA”) hotel review pages are significantly more likely to book on hotel websites, and convert at a rate of 13-14% versus the average hotel conversion of 8-9%.  In support of the report, we have always recommended our clients respond to all guest review posts regardless the comment sentiment being negative or positive.

While there are many tools and services on the market, including our own Chatter Guard Online Reputation Management Services, to help hotels identify and manage their guest review posts, responding to posts is time consuming especially when posting responses on multiple review sites.  Moreover, beyond the overall sentiment scoring, careful focus should be placed on scoring guest review posts based on service attributes to ensure operational improvements are made in the problem areas.  We recommend our clients meet regularly to discuss guest review post areas of concern based on departmental attributes such as housekeeping, food & beverage, staff, etc.  Hoteliers should make the most of guest review posts to improve their overall service levels.

TripAdvisor gets thumbs-up for getting down and dirty

"While many see it as a ploy to generate attention, TripAdvisor — a website that promotes hotel reviews submitted by actual guests for fellow travelers — has received a thumbs-up from hotel and hygiene experts for its recently unveiled list of 10 dirtiest U.S. hotels.

The list was created by tabulating hotels with the lowest cleanliness ratings in members’ 2010 reviews, said Brooke Ferencsik, U.S. director of communications for TripAdvisor. Another, lesser factor, he said, was poor cleanliness ratings received in previous years’ reviews…(continued)

…“More than seven out of 10 travelers in the U.S. participate in social media. Clearly social media are powerful and credible, and user reviews resonate,” (Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research)

Read the full article at: www.msnbc.msn.com

TripAdvisor traffic up 60%

"TripAdvisor has experienced tremendous growth in site
traffic, with more than 40 million unique monthly visitors, according to
comScore Media Metrix July worldwide numbers for TripAdvisor sites, up
60 percent from the beginning of the year. TripAdvisor additionally
features 20 million registered members, up from 15 million in January
2010.

TripAdvisor, already the world’s largest travel site,
celebrates becoming the first travel brand to have more than 40 million
unique visitors in one month."

Read more www.hotelmarketing.com