‘Maximize distribution, boost exposure’ is the mantra on almost every hotelier’s mind today. And with good reason – OTAs have opened the doors to attracting a global audience. Hotels that are on more channels get seen by more travelers, and are hence likely to attract more bookings. With modern capabilities like real-time integration to channel managers, properties can connect to any number of online distribution portals without sparing a thought for the complexity of managing so many channels.
However, this scramble for online dominance seems to have distanced a number of hoteliers from a more integral aspect of attracting bookings on the internet – reviews. The majority of guests today won’t book a hotel room without first reading a review about the property.
Even if a hotel is present on all major OTAs, without a good review score they won’t be able to capitalize on their online presence.
There’s a misconception that improving review scores is slow and laborious With the number of guests checking in and out of a hotel on a weekly basis, tracking each one and reminding them to leave a review may appear daunting. A number of hotels are also wary about approaching guests for reviews, considering it to be ‘unprofessional’. However, the technology is available today for hoteliers to automate review collection. And while it may indeed be tactless to bombard guests with review requests throughout their stay, asking them to leave a review once they check-out actually testifies to the manager’s commitment to collecting their feedback.
Another factor that often deters owners is negative reviews. When a hotel begins to collect reviews for the first time, it’s inevitable that a few may be negative. With a small sample size, even a few negative reviews can significantly drag down the property’s overall score. This can be demotivating and discourage managers from collecting reviews – however, it’s important to never stop gathering feedback. Zero or very few reviews can be as damaging as a couple of negative reviews. As the property collects more reviews, scores are much more likely to go up.
In fact, TripAdvisor analysts discovered that review scores tend to increase with time! This is because initial reviews set a precedent for guest expectations, enabling travelers to understand what to expect at a property. For instance, a guest who leaves a negative review complaining about a hotel’s distant proximity from the town will probably be the last person to complain about it – any subsequent guests who book at the property after reading about this will have come to accept the shortcoming.
A good review score can actually help hotels improve their bottom-line Numerous studies have discovered that guests are far more likely to take the word of other travelers than representatives affiliated to a hotel. As a result, hotels with more reviews are often in greater demand. Not only does this prevent the property’s occupancy from dropping, it enables hotels to boost their room rates. In today’s service oriented market, consumers will tolerate an increase in pricing if they’re guaranteed reliability – and reviews provide guests with this assurance. Studies conducted by Chris Anderson at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration discovered that a one point increase in a property’s score led to a 0.89% increase in ADR, a 0.54% increase in occupancy and a 1.42% increase in RevPAR. That’s for a single point increase on a 100 point scale.
Additionally, improvements in a hotel’s review score can optimize conversions, even without further diversifying distribution. TripAdvisor also ranks hotels with better review scores higher, meaning that a hotel with more reviews enjoys better exposure. With TripConnect now allowing guests to book directly from the site, this can provide properties in the first page with a significant edge over their rivals.
Reviews actually help hotels better address guest needs Perhaps one of the most advantageous points about collecting reviews is their impact on the guest experience. Reviews allow guests to express their opinions about their stay and provide honest feedback about each aspect of their experience at the property. A number of hoteliers don’t seem to realize it but this information is priceless! Guests may be hesitant to air their true view about a property when asked by a manager. However, a lot of the information they fail to provide could be integral to improving the hotel.
Online reviews offer managers an opportunity to analyze their property from a guest’s perspective, and take corrective measures where necessary. As Peter O’Sullivan, Owner of Harrington’s Hotel in England puts it, “We might think we’re doing a brilliant job – but there’s no point in us thinking we’re doing a brilliant job if guests don’t think we are!”
The important thing to remember is that as with building a brand, improving review scores is a long-term ploy – it’s not wise to expect instant results. However, the stability it offers the property – even during times of low demand – is well-worth the wait!
If you’re in the market for a property management system, consider opting for one that offers seamless integration with tools like Online Reputation Management and more –