Respond To Hotel Reviews Professionally - A Complete Guide
There is this saying that - “You cannot make everyone happy”. However, in the hospitality industry, you have to make everyone happy. This is one of the most challenging aspects of managing a hotel. The guests are unpredictable. They will either be in love with your property or will hate it enough to post a 1-star review online. This is why responding to hotel reviews is considered an art form.
The human instinct is to respond to only negative reviews. The reason is that more than positive, what we want the most is to avoid a negative reputation. That’s why hotel reputation management has emerged as a separate discipline of its own. However, hotels should respond to positive hotel reviews as well, because every communication is important.
People make the mistake of ‘reacting’ to feedback. What we need to do as hoteliers is to respond to hotel reviews professionally, with the ultimate aim of facilitating healthy and transparent communication.
Online Hotel Reviews - An Everlasting Challenge
With the growth of the Internet, Online reviews have become a boon and a bane. It is a boon because hotels can now gain accurate and more feedback regarding their property. This can lead to an improvement in hotel services.
It is a bane as well since negative reviews are more prominent for customers, and competitors, unruly leads and guests can type a negative review with false information just to spite the hotel.
Whether it is a bone or a bane, one thing is for sure. Online hotel reviews are here to stay. You need to respond to hotel reviews professionally and consistently because there is simply no other option. For a hotel, reputation is everything. Without a solid reputation, your hotel business will end before it even began.
Importance Of Hotel Reviews For Guests
Before we discuss the various ways to respond to hotel reviews, positive, neutral or negative, we need to understand their importance in the hotel industry. Reviews are important from both the guest’s and the hotel’s perspective. Let us first understand why hotel reviews are important for guests.
From the hotel reviews, the guests can get an understanding of your property. There is a reason why word-of-mouth marketing is the most popular and effective form of marketing. A customer will always trust another customer, rather than going solely on what the marketer is saying. It is through the hotel reviews that the guests will get to know about the rooms, amenities and food quality of your property.
Hotel reviews can provide more information to the guests. For example, the person posting the review can also talk about the best rooms, the sightseeing options etc. They can (god forbid) can also give information about what to avoid at the hotel.
The hotel reviews also show the unedited version of the hotel. The hoteliers usually use lighting and editing to make their images better. But hotel reviews showcase the real state of the hotel.
Last but not the least, how a hotel responds to reviews also shows the service quality and hospitality of the property. A professional response comes a long way in establishing close ties with the customer.
Importance Of Hotel Reviews For Businesses
Hotel reviews are not only important for guests, but it is also important for hotel businesses as well. Responding to hotel reviews online is the best way to gauge and manage the reputation. Hotels also get an opportunity to see their hotel from the guest's perspective.
With the help of hotel reviews, you can also understand your customers' grievances and also respond to queries, accusations and in some cases, defamation. In case a guest does not like something about the hotel, like extra charges for some amenities, you can explain the reasoning for such policies. As you can see, responding to hotel reviews has several advantages.
Why We Should Respond To Hotel Reviews
We have now discussed the importance of replying to hotel reviews. Now the question arises, - “Should we reply to all hotel reviews”. There is only one answer to this - YES. Hoteliers are to respond to every type of feedback - positive, negative, neutral, fake and even unreasonable hotel reviews. Here are some of the reasons why hotels need to respond to online reviews regularly.
Communication is a two-way and continuous process. Guests will appreciate when the hotel is responsive to their needs and grievances. The reputation manager needs to respond to the reviews in a sensible and empathetic manner. This builds trust and ensures that the guests have a positive reputation for you, even if some mistakes happen.
When you respond to hotel reviews on time, you can resolve several issues which you may or may not have otherwise. Some of the common issues highlighted by hotel reviews include guest issues, room issues, maintenance concerns, and various other complaints.
Responding to hotel reviews also allows the reputation manager to contact the guest further to understand their issues better. When you communicate with the guests directly, they will be more open about the issues they face. They will also feel more assured. At the same time, you will also be able to investigate potentially fake reviews and identify them.
Types Of Hotel Reviews
Now, let us understand the various types of hotel reviews. Even though there are a variety of hotel reviews, they can be broadly classified into the following categories:
Hostile Or “In Bad Faith Reviews”
Let us discuss how you can respond to all these types of reviews in detail. Hotels need to know what to do around them because any mistake can dent the hotel’s reputation.
Positive reviews are the best thing to happen to hoteliers. I work as a reputation manager for Bigfoot Hospitality. For me, opening the Google My Business account and seeing positive reviews always bring a smile to my face. If the guests are happy with your service, food, amenities etc. They will provide you with a 5-star or a 4-star review.
What is the difference between a 5-star and a 4-star review? It's just the difference between loving your property or being absolutely in love with it! Either way, it is a positive indication that your hotel is being well.
So should you just start celebrating and not respond to the review? OF COURSE NOT! You need to respond with appreciation and encourage them to visit your property again.
“We are pleased to know that you enjoyed your stay with us. We appreciate your feedback and are glad to you choose our resort. Hope to see you again!
Thanks and Regards,
If a positive review has praised a certain amenity or experience, you need to include that in your response as well.
“Thanks for the review and for choosing our resort. We are pleased to know that you enjoyed our food, especially our seafood options. We hope to see you again!
Thanks and Regards,
Negative Reviews are often the biggest nightmares for hoteliers. One mistake can potentially lead to a paragraph-long review on Google My Business, TripAdvisor etc., criticising your property. Negative reviews are 1-star or 2-star reviews.
There are various types of negative reviews - reasonable, exaggerated and unreasonable. In dealing with these reviews, hoteliers need to have consideration and patience but most importantly, stand up for themselves if the reviewer is being unreasonable.
If it is a genuine negative review i.e the one that criticises the real flaws of your property or staff, you have no choice but to apologize and ensure that this issue does not happen again.
“We deeply apologize for any inconvenience you faced during your stay. We will take this up with the team to ensure that it does not happen again
Thanks and Regards,
If you know the answer to why these issues happen, you also need to state that to give your perspective. For example, slow restaurant service due to peak season rush.
“We deeply apologize for the delay in food service at our restaurant. It is peak season and because of the rush, the staff service gets a little slow. That being said, we will strive to ensure that our guests get the best service.
Thanks and Regards,
Neutral reviews are those which are neither overtly positive, nor negative. The guests are ok with your property, but due to some flaws, the guests have not shared a positive one. Neutral reviews are usually 3- star reviews, but even 4-star reviews that mention some flaws also deserve attention.
A neutral review will always state the good things about the property, and will also state the negative points as well. In these reviews, you need to acknowledge the good and the bad and assure the guests that they will work on the negative aspects.
“Thanks for the review and for choosing our resort. We are also pleased to know that you enjoyed your stay with us. Your feedback regarding the room size is appreciated. However, this is the standard room size. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience you faced during your stay with us.
That being said, we will strive to provide a better experience and see how we can improve the rooms on our end.
Thanks and Regards,
“Fake Reviews (sigh), the less we talk about them, the better” - would have been the usual response. However, since we are talking about how to respond to hotel reviews in this blog, we have to talk about them nonetheless.
Fake reviews are often by competitors, vengeful travel agents and other unscrupulous elements. Even the guests who have got gotten the rate of their wish will often post fake reviews to spite the hotel and tarnish its online reputation. There is only one way to respond to negative reviews - put the ball in their court.
“We deeply regret any inconvenience you faced during your stay. Would you please share some more details regarding your stay? We checked and we haven’t found anyone with your name booking a stay with us. Awaiting your response.
Thanks, And Regards,
Hostile Or In Bad Faith Reviews
With the growing popularity of online reviews, hostile reviews are emerging as a major issue. Hostile reviews or In Bad Faith Reviews” are those reviews that are posted by customers who are simply not getting want they want - be it a reasonable hotel cancellation refund, off-season rates during peak seasons and so forth.
They are called “In Bad Faith” reviews because the aim is not to give constructive or genuine feedback, but to tarnish the hotel’s reputation for not fulfilling their whims.
There is only one way to respond to such reviews - be polite, and firm and don’t hesitate in sharing your side of the story. This hotel review response is not for the reviewer, but for the other online visitors to understand the real situation.
Why Do Hotels Get Negative And Neutral Reviews?
There are various reasons that hotels end up getting negative and even neutral reviews. Some common ones are as follows:
Unclean rooms and improper housekeeping
Improper staff behaviour
Delay in check-ins and check-outs
Unwanted loud noise and disturbance
Additional charges and payments
Delays and slow speed in F&B services
Responding to hotel reviews has gained paramount importance in the hospitality industry. Hoteliers need to reply to positive, negative, neutral, fake and hostile reviews to perform effective online reputation management.
With this guide, we have that we were able to explain the importance of hotel reviews and how to go about it. Hotel reputation management is an art which hoteliers have to master. Establishing and maintaining relationships with the guests is what makes or breaks the hotel and hospitality business.
Read our blogs to know more about the various concepts, trends and challenges of the hospitality industry.