Online reviews have been a prevalent part of consumer’s pre-purchase research for quite some time now and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. More and more travellers are turning to the internet’s big timers such as TripAdvisor to find out exactly what they need to know about a particular business before making a final decision on where they would like to stay.
In 2013, BrightLocal, a powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) service company published some findings regarding consumer consumption of online reviews and how reading these reviews actually affected their purchases from local businesses.
From this survey they found out that astonishingly, 79% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers as much as a personal recommendation. A statistic like this should not be shied away from, yet embraced which can help deliver results in terms of sales.
Reading online reviews is one thing, but responding to reviews should become an important strategy for you and your hotel.
Below are a few tips on how to approach responding to online reviews.
1. Monitor key review sites
Monitoring reviews plays a key part in your responding process. Without monitoring, you will be unable to respond in a timely fashion. Create a list of large sites your business appears on and keep up to date with all the reviews.
2. Respond quickly
Responding quickly to an online review (positive or negative) is always recommended and is greatly appreciated by the people writing and reading these reviews. Replying quickly is extremely important when dealing with negative reviews as you may be able to clear up any harmful comments that could potentially jeopardise any future business.
3. Don’t be afraid
Reading a negative review will never fill yourself with joy and neither will ignoring it. It will still be there for everyone to read whether you decide to reply to it or not. The best thing you can do is act upon it, and if done well, can negate any damaging remarks.
4. Keep your tone professional
It is very easy to misinterpret messages online which is why it’s important for you to reply in a professional manner. Avoid ‘internet chat’ at all cost. What I mean by this is do not abbreviate words for the sake of saving time (for example, spelling ‘you’ as ‘u’). If you respond in a professional manner, you will be seen as professional, which should go without saying.
5. Originality is key
Using a template to respond may seem like a good time saver, but in the long run it will eventually catch up with you. People do not want to read a half-hearted response that are used to reply to many other reviews. Take the time to write an original response that directly answers each review. People reading these reviews will be a lot more grateful.
6. Keep it short and sweet
Although you may be tempted to write a long reply, its best to keep it short and sweet. You do not want to overwhelm the person to whom you are responding too which can lead them to feel even worse about their experience with your business. Answer their concerns directly and resist the urge to always have the last say.
7. Be grateful
Be sure to respond to positive reviews and not just the negative ones. By doing this you will be showing the review community that you value feedback and that you take customers’ opinions seriously. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
8. Highlight positive changes
Not only will consumers want to see you actively responding to reviews, they will always want to see you actually changing the way your business runs based on past reviews. Make sure you highlight any changes you have made to your business that have been directly influenced by a past review. This will show consumers how serious you are about feedback and could encourage more people to write reviews.
By following these few tips for tackling online reviews, you should be able to maintain a positive and healthy online reputation. Not only will you be responding to the reviewer, you will also be forming opinions of thousands of potential customers that also read the review which in turn will help your overall business.
Be respectful, observant and helpful and your customers will be very appreciative.