Mulligan Management Group, LLC

Do Onsite, Online Reviews Really Matter?

hotel reviews, online reviews, Mulligan Management Group

Yes they do; both in the leisure traveler and business travel marketing arena. And they can drive hotel marketing staff crazy trying to keep up with online chatter. BUT, they are part of your job description now because hotel guests can write a review standing in line during check-in, dining at your restaurant or in the comfort of their own room. And the worst part? You can't control what they say! But you can now be aware of why it matters because today's blog post is going to focus on the research and how it translates into what you do with that data.

The Research Findings

TrustYou, an online reputation management system availed to hoteliers, states that guest reviews have a significant impact on hotel conversion rates and how much they are willing to pay for a room. Given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to choose the hotel with the higher reviews. In addition, even if the hotel with great reviews has higher pricing, travelers are still willing to book at that hotel.

PhoCusWright, a global travel market research organization, found:

  • 87% of survey participants agreed that an appropriate management response to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel
  • 62% agreed that seeing the hotel's response to reviews generally influenced them positively to booking at that hotel and
  • Roughly 50% of global travelers do not book a room until they've read peer reviews online. 

Hospitality Marketing Viewpoints

Four seasoned hotel professionals have opinions about the make-up of realtime online reviews and how to respond to them. Here is what they had to say: 

Mark Molinari, Corporate Vice President of Revenue Management and Distribution at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, where they are booking hotel group business in the 35-40% range, said he believes this segment of travelers is less likely to look at reviews because the corpororation or association already made the hotel choice for them. 

Michele Davis, Director of Revenue Management for Hospitality Venturest Management Group, stated that business travelers look at a hotel's loyalty program, online reviews and price; in that order. 

Sarah Vining, PR & Marketing Manager of The Embassy Row Hotel, stated that she has experienced a great uptick in realtime online reviews especially on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor. 

David Berg, COO of Carlson Company, stated in an interview with Skift, that guest expectations are evolving and their demands are great for a personalized, on demand hotel experience. 

What Should Hotel Marketing Staff do to Manage This Process? 

Here are three great ideas as expressed by Vining, Berg and myself: 

  1. Answer All Online Reviews Quickly. 

    Research shows that most individuals expect a response to their complaint or concern within 60 minutes of posting it. Since hotels are a 24/7 operation, have one or more individuals tuned into social 24/7 and give them the authority to respond to the review. 

  2. Take The Message Offline and Personally Talk to the Guest. 
    Address the review online and then quickly move it to another method of conversing whether it be direct messaging, email or telephone. However, if the guest is still on property, work really hard to meeting them face-to-face. You cannot read a person's body language, hear their tone or intonation on social. 

  3. Listen and Anticipate. 
    Spend a lot of time looking at your channels and make certain you have responded. Personalize and make your group's visit special by reviewing their history and pay attention to their nuances.

Berg concludes that guests look at 14 different hotels before booking hotel group business. If this is true, realtime online reviews will become more paramount to how much business a hotel ultimately captures. 

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