- By Jesse Linklater
We look at the impact online reviews can have on your brand reputation and how you can promote reviews on your website and other places on the web.
[tweetable alt=”Have you ever booked a #hotel online without reading a single #review?” hashtag=”#local #marketing”]Have you ever booked a hotel online without reading a single review?[/tweetable] You just wouldn’t do it, would you? Why? The price, location and pictures may all seem right. The deal clincher is really what other people have to say about their experience at the hotel, and whether the feedback is overwhelmingly positive or negative.
Since they have become so prevalent across the Web, using reviews before deciding to pay for a product or service has become instinctive to us. Reviews help us make and validate our choices.
According to a recent study by TripAdvisor, 53% of respondents will not book a hotel that does not have reviews on the website. The study also went on to reveal that 87 percent felt TripAdvisor hotel reviews make them feel ‘more confident in their decisions.’
Any hotelier or small business owner should take heed because it is clear that the presence of online reviews can positively or negatively impact your brand reputation, and in turn contribute to increased sales or extended quiet spells.
Why Even Bad Reviews are Good: Nobody’s Perfect
So reviews are essential, but when you open your business to them online, you open yourself to bad reviews that could scare off potential customers. Interestingly, research has found that businesses can use negative reviews to their advantage, and can even boost sales.
The integrity of reviews stem from the authenticity of real like minded consumers who have purchased the good or service we may be interested in Honest people provide an honest appraisal of their subsequent experience.
Consumers are naturally skeptical of products and services where every review gives top marks. No matter how good the service is, we all know that it is not possible to please everyone. Therefore, when all of the reviews look like they have been handcrafted, it is likely that consumers will pick up on this.
A website full of nothing but A+ reviews results in distrust from the consumer which translates to a loss in sales!
A few bad reviews give consumers more reasons to believe any of the good reviews your brand may have garnered. According to a recent study by review site Reevoo 68 percent of those surveyed trust reviews when they see mixture of good and bad scores.
The same study by Reevoo revealed some interesting insights in relation to how consumers engage with negative reviews. By tracking user interaction they found that consumers are particularly attracted to negative reviews.[tweetable alt=”Consumers spend more time looking at #negative #feedback because it gives a more complete information.” hashtag=”#marketing”]Consumers tend to spend more time engaging with negative feedback because it is an opportunity to gather more complete information about a potential purchase.[/tweetable]
Reevoo found that five times as many consumers actively seek out negative reviews.
Reevoo also found that customers do not look at bad reviews in isolation. This means that in general customers will not simply move on to the next product or service after coming across a few negative comments. What counts is the ratio of good reviews to bad that matters.
Therefore, if there are dozens or hundreds of positive reviews versus a sprinkling of negative reviews, potential customers are much more likely to view your brand favorably.
As mentioned previously in the article it is essential that reviews are acknowledged. Responding to negative reviews especially serve as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to excellent customer care. Monitoring reviews takes effort and a systematic approach.
However, a proactive approach in dealing with negative feedback is likely reassure future customers that your brand is committed to ensuring that their potential stay will be an enjoyable experience. Take this response to negative feedback from Orchard Garden Hotel.
How can you encourage customers to write reviews and how can you use them to your advantage?
How to Be a Success Online
There are a number of ways to encourage customer reviews. Before we delve into how brands can do this, it is worth considering a very basic question. Does your hotel actively attempt to create an atmosphere and experience worth talking about?
Whether the customer finds exceptional service at the front desk or loves the restaurant and spa, take a proactive approach in prioritizing the customer’s experience across all levels of the business, whatever your unique selling point. Make sure you create moments that will motivate your customers to share those experiences.
On a more immediate level here are some things to consider.
1 – Be present on popular review sites
Yelp, TripAdvisor, Trivago, HolidayCheck, Booking.com and other sites are all popular platforms used by consumers to locate, review and assess whether they would like to visit hotels and holiday destinations. It cannot be overstated just how important it is that your brand has a presence on these platforms.
2 – Ask for reviews
While it is easy to assume that satisfied customers are eager to share their wonderful experience at your establishment on a popular review site, please remember that people are busy. It’s not out of line to ask for reviews. Customers know how they found your hotel, and they understand that a good reputation online means more business for you.
Use business cards, email thank you messages, ensure that the lobby and the company website to prominently advertise and ask for reviews. Yesterday’s “Tell your friends about us!” is today’s “Like us on Facebook!”
3 – Respond to feedback
Responding to positive and negative reviews clearly demonstrates to both former and prospective guests that you are interested in feedback and that you take customer service seriously.
TripAdvisor conducted a survey in December 2013 and found that 77 per cent of respondents felt that seeing a response to feedback from hotel management made them believe that the hotel cares more about its guests. Furthermore, 50 per cent said that they were more likely to book a hotel where management have taken the time to respond to feedback.
Responding to positive feedback offers a great opportunity to thank the customer for taking the time out to provide feedback. It also allows brands to reaffirm the strengths of the service they are providing. For example, take a look at this comment from a satisfied Orchard Garden Hotel Customer and the subsequent response from the hotel management.
Consumers are becoming more and more savvy when it comes to researching before purchasing. While it is difficult to quantify, it is fair to say that online reviews play a major role in helping potential customers decide if they want to follow through on that initial interest.
Brands can ensure that they are maximizing the opportunity to convert interest by actively encouraging reviews from customers. They must acknowledge reviews and demonstrate a commitment to improving their business by explaining how negative experiences will be rectified moving forward.