In the age of Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Google My Business, you know that online reviews have the power to make or break your property. But positive online reviews aren’t just an excellent way to build the reputation of your hotel or bed & breakfast. They can also have a huge impact on things like rates, occupancy, and your ability to attract new and loyal customers. 76% of customers are willing to pay more for a hotel or bed & breakfast that has received positive reviews. That’s why we decided to dedicate our latest Odysys survey to all things review-related: how you get them, how much they matter, how you use them, and more.
Do You Solicit Reviews for Your Property?
Everyone in the hospitality industry is after that golden 5-star review. But how do you go about getting them? No matter how much guests loved your property, they might not remember or feel the urge to write a review. One solution to this dilemma is to actively ask your guests to review your property, either through follow-up emails, in-person reminders, or other methods. The majority of survey respondents felt totally fine about soliciting for reviews at least some of the time. They understand that is part of the game and will greatly benefit them (and potential guests) in the long run.
Generally speaking – your fellow innkeepers recommend that you actively solicit reviews:
“Be proactive – online reviews are the 21st century word of mouth. Automate the post-stay outreach and encourage your guests to help you build and strengthen your reputation.” -Anatoly & Rose Polyakov, Heart of the Village Inn in Shelburne, VT
However, 11% felt very strongly about not soliciting for reviews when the possible downside of losing placement in TripAdvisor.
“I personally detest getting an email begging for reviews. That’s why our property doesn’t use them. Guests have no idea how fierce the competition is, and a 4 star vs a 5 star review will drop your placement on TripAdvisor. If a guests asks upon leaving if they can leave a review, we steer them toward TripAdvisor or Google.” -Diane, Pine Crest Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina
These opposing points of view may sway you one way or another. Industry best practice nearly always recommends soliciting reviews, but there are review software tools out there that can help you hedge your bets that your reviews will be 5-star. And the low-tech way is to ask your guests if they had a 5-star stay. If the answer is yes – ask them for a review. If no – ask them what you need to do to make it a 5-star stay.
“Do it! Our experience is that guests, at the very least, look at a few reviews before deciding on a place to stay. We started small, by asking for the review as the guest checks-out. We then moved to soliciting a review in an automated “post-stay” email, which makes the process so much easier.” -Tami Schulter, The Historic Hutchinson House Bed & Breakfast in Faribault, Minnesota
How Important are Reviews to Your Property?
No surprises here. Almost all of you are in agreement with us that earning stellar reviews are essential to attracting new guests, improving the reputation of your brand, and helping you with things like occupancy, rates, and more.
Do You or Your Staff Monitor for New Reviews?
Monitoring reviews is incredibly important. Almost all of you know to do this and strive to make a habit out of it. If you aren’t already doing so, we highly recommend you start. However, if you find you simply don’t have the time, there are online services for review monitoring out there. One respondent said:
“I have a good friend or colleague read my responses to any reviews where there was an issue or someone made a comment that I didn’t agree with. This is great way for me to ensure that I am being fair and not reacting negatively to the review.” –Bristol House Bed & Breakfast in Bristol, Rhode Island
Do You Respond to New Reviews?
Statistics show that 87% of people’s perception of your property improves when you respond to reviews. People look more favorably upon hotels that take the time to respond to reviews, whether they are good or bad. It improves your rating and builds trust. Plain and simple, you should be responding to every review, or at least the majority of them. It can be time consuming, but it is worth it. Even if it is just a simple, “Thank you! We loved hosting you,” it will create results.
The majority of you strive to respond to most, if not all, of your online reviews. 24% percent said they do it sometimes, say every 4th or 5th review. A much smaller portion said they don’t respond at all or only respond if the review was negative.
“Always answer all reviews even if with a short thanks and be positive with details if a situation needs explanation.” -Anonymous
How do you ask Guests for Reviews?
Most of you ask for guest reviews in one of two ways: either in a “post-stay” email or in person when the guest checks out. Some are more old-fashioned and do so on a card or note.
“We feel that the follow up email is important, both for the review, but also to give the guest a chance to mention or discuss something they may have thought of after they left. It also gives the guest a chance vent if necessary!” -Darrin Hammons, Equinox Inn at Biscuit Hill in Canyon Lake, Texas
Do you ask Guests to Review you on Specific Websites?
TripAdvisor should be your primary focus and the majority of you know to point guests in that direction. We strongly recommend that if you do solicit reviews, that you also ask for reviews on Google. 5-star Google reviews help your property rank better in Google’s map results. Click here for a link to include in your post-stay emails that will help your guests get right to the review page.
Do You Use Reviews in Other Online Marketing Activities?
Most of you are finding some way to use reviews in your marketing, whether that is on the website, online advertisements, social media posts, or email newsletters. 41% of you do not currently use reviews in your online marketing activities.
Do you Have a Specific Approach or Plan for Responding to Negative Reviews?
We get it. Negative reviews are a bummer, but they may be an unavoidable aspect of running a services business. Most of you have specific methods or strategies that you employ in response to a negative reviews. Many advised letting things cool off and waiting at least 24 hours to respond. Others recommended talking things over with your staff first, providing necessary details in response to the review, and acknowledging the complaint but politely point out any parts of it that may be incorrect. For more tips on responding to negative reviews, click here.
“It’s easy to respond to a great review. When you get a bad review don’t reply right away. Talk it over with your staff. Don’t respond hastily. Always apologize and take the steps to make right whatever was wrong. Always remember we are all human and we all experience life. Some days it is impossible to be at the top of your game. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t let it happen again if you can help it. Breathe in, breathe out, move on.” -Anonymous
“Everyone’s a critic. The secret, I think, is to accurately establish a set of expectations. A 1-star property can get a 5-star review if they have clean sheets, whereas a 5-star property can get a 1-star review if the salad fork isn’t properly chilled. So, if you can set the expectations for your guests and then deliver (you always have to deliver!), you’ll be fine in the world where everyone’s a critic.” –The Mainstreet House Bed & Breakfast in Brenham Texas
“Let the greater number of positive reviews speak for themselves, people usually figure that a negative review is junk mail compared to all the positive reviews.” -Michael Triplett, The Lighthouse Lodge B&B on Lake Shafer in Monticello, Indiana
And we thought this was particularly good advice…
“When responding to negative reviews, always remember that you are writing to future guests, not the one that posted the negative review.” -Josiah Dean, Balch Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Related Post: 4 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews
Have you Ever had a Problem with Spam Reviews?
Sadly, spam reviews were more of a problem than we initially thought. 24% of you face spam reviews on a semi-regular basis.
The good news is that “64% [of users] ignore extreme comments when reading reviews online” and “87% of survey participants agreed that an appropriate management response to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel.”
We understand that this doesn’t help when you get a less than 5 star rating. This drops your average score which will then affect your ranking on tripadvisor or google in contrast to your competition.
A Little About the Respondents…
We were excited to see that the respondents to this survey were a diverse bunch. We heard from properties of all sizes. Over half of the respondents have 6 or more rooms.
For those with a little less experience, we suggest you take a hard look at the responses here. Over half of the respondents have over 10 years of experience, so the responses represent some veterans in the business. Take this opportunity to learn from them, just like we have.