You often have to battle with the ranking algorithms to ensure your property gets the visibility you crave though, bringing together a number of different factors to get the most ‘points’ on the leader board. But there is one ranking metric which is a cut above the rest, the one which is the hardest to attain but the most powerful to have and that’s 5 Star Reviews.
So, are reviews all they are hyped up to be? Is a flood of 5 star reviews going to turn your listing into the #1 place to be around town? Let’s take a look at the impact reviews have on your listing and find out if they are really as powerful as the experts make out…..
What Impact Do Reviews Actually Have on My Rankings?
The short answer is – a big one!
Let’s start by looking at TripAdvisor – the most popular travel review site in the UK. Their Popularity Ranking Algorithm is based almost entirely on Reviews. Their ranking compares the Quality, Recency and Quantity of reviews to give an overall popularity rating. Want to rank high on TripAdvisor? You need lots of recent reviews that sing your praises – easy, right?
OTA’s love properties that have good reviews as well! Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Trivago all take kindly to good customer experiences when looking to boost your rankings on their site. Now none of those sites, list the exact balance reviews have within the overall score but one thing’s for certain – they’re important!
If our words alone weren’t enough, here’s three amazing stats to truly amplify the importance of your listing’s ranking.
Fact – 88% of travelers filter out hotels with an average star rating below three
Fact – The top 3 results on booking website get 79% of the total clicks
Fact – Only 3% of searchers go beyond the first page of any booking website search result
Source – SiteMinder
Source – ReviewPro
Will Good Reviews Boost The Number of Bookings I Receive?
The Online Travel Agency market is really packed. There’s a lot of competition not only on one booking site, but between many of them, all vying for the next customer to come along and place their booking. Competition for you, means an abundance of choice for the potential guests. Finding a great place to stay is literally served up on a plate thanks to OTA’s, so do reviews actually sway where a customer spends their money? Let’s look at the stats….
Fact – 83% of respondents indicated that reviews help them pick the right hotel
Fact – 80% of customers read at least 6 – 12 reviews prior to booking
Fact – 53% of customers won’t commit to a booking until they read reviews
Source – TripAdvisor
When a customer is going to place their trust in you to book their next big night away, the reviews which are available to them are the biggest confidence builder when it comes to making that all important decision. This trend is on the rise too, studies have shown the the younger generation are much more reliant on the opinion of others. In the communication age, information of previous experiences are so easily available that it no longer makes sense to not check out a properties reviews online – it’s just so easy!
This trend is pretty consistent across all booking platforms – there isn’t a platform where you can make it big with little to no reviews. It quite simply boils down to this – if you want more bookings, get more positive reviews!
You’ve Sold It To Me – But How Do I Get More Reviews?
So you now know that you need to get as many reviews as possible to help your hotel rank high on OTA’s and to boost your overall booking numbers – but how do you actually encourage reviews? It’s true that only a small percentage of people actually post reviews when visiting an attraction or buying a product. With that said, there’s a couple of simple ways to boost the number of reviews you receive…
- Make it easy. Whether it’s Booking.com, Airbnb or your own website, make the process for leaving a review as easy as possible. When you’re asking your guests to do you a favour, ensure it isn’t a massive drain on their time to avoid any frustration!
- Utilise Comment Cards. When you’re guests are enjoying their stay with you, that’s the best time to get them to submit a review. Putting comments cards out both within the rooms and as they are leaving is a great way to get their opinions. This way it doesn’t feel like they are taking time out of their busy day and rather, is part of the process when staying with you!
- Know Your Audience. Be mindful of the demographic you commonly have staying with you and how they may feel comfortable leaving a review. For an older demographic, a physical comment card or survey may be ideal but for the younger generation, try steering them towards Social Media where they feel at home!
- Be Responsive. When customers check your reviews before booking online, if they notice you are responding to previous reviews, they will be more likely to post their own. When guests take the time to write a review, it’s only polite to respond to it with thanks and to welcome them back again. Being responsive to reviews just shows the high level of customer service you strive to deliver and will make potential visitors trust you straight away!
- Incentivise. If all else fails, a surefire way to get guests to leave you a review is to give them something in return. Whether that’s money off their next stay, a freebie or an experience from a partner organisation, you can make leaving a review really worthwhile for your guests. As we have seen above, the success extra reviews can bring will not doubt be worth the investment in the long run!
What’s The Best Way To Deal With Negative Reviews?
It’s inevitable that no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone and every so often you’ll receive a bad review. The way you deal with a bad review is critical though to not only mitigate the negative comments, but actually showing you and your business in a positive light as an owner that isn’t afraid to just paper over the cracks. Here’s some tips…
- Respond Immediately. Try and respond to negative reviews as quickly as you can to show you are proactive and responsive. The last thing you want is for a bad review to be followed up by the guest through your lack of response – you want to defuse the situation as quickly as possible!
- Be Personal. Don’t give a general, canned response here as it may only add fuel to the fire. Thank the guest by name for their comments and reference the dates of their stay as well as any other specific information – avoiding anything sensitive or private of course. It will show that you care about that individual and the feedback they have given.
- Apologise and Respond Positively. Whilst some comments may be wholly unreasonable, it is always best to apologise for the bad experience on behalf of the establishment. The last thing you want to do here is incite an argument so it’s best to just accept responsibility. Next, detail the steps you are taking to improve the negative aspects of someone’s stay. Again this shows you are being proactive and future guests will know that the issue(s) will be resolved in time for their stay!
- Offer a Follow Up. Invite the guest to get in touch personally to resolve the situation further if needs be. Provide an email address or phone number alongside a dedicated point of contact for the guest to reach out to. For those who are serious about getting their opinions heard, they will follow up with you, at which point you can fully resolve the matter in private between the two of you.
Fact – 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.”
Source – Revinate
Time to Get Reviewing
It’s without doubt that Reviews are absolutely vital to boosting the performance of your listing. Whether it’s just getting your listing seen more or actually boosting the number of bookings you receive, reviews hold the secret to your success. Encourage guests to leave reviews by offering them something in return and ensure you don’t shy away from those who pose criticism. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start realising the power of Guest Reviews for yourself!