COVID-19 has brought many fundamental changes to the hotel industry, including the way hoteliers respond to reviews online. Amid the pandemic, review responses are a vital outlet for communicating with guests to instill confidence about your property. For hotel owners and managers, you can leverage review responses to reach future travelers, ensure them of your commitment to safe practices, and share the changes you have made at the property in response to COVID-19. Travelers are more discerning than ever, so hoteliers must make the most of every single review response. Let’s learn how to use expert review responses to set proper expectations and ensure a positive hotel experience for happy guests.
Resolving Guest Issues
Let’s begin by illustrating the impact that COVID-19 has had on review response. Prior to COVID-19, resolving guest issues was done face-to-face, typically over the front desk. Whether it was a guest unsatisfied with their room, the hot water wasn’t hot enough, the guests next door were too loud, we have heard it all, right? And with most guests checking out at the front desk, sometimes we are able to resolve issues right then and there.
Think of that guest touchpoint as an extra filter for the property. Upset and unsatisfied guests come to the front desk, express their frustration, and give you the hotelier the opportunity to fix it. Now is every guest satisfied after that interaction? Of course not, but some are, and some guests just want to feel like they have been heard. So when these guests get to online review sites to vent and share their experiences publically, to a much wider audience, their feedback has been impacted and hopefully improved by that touchpoint with you at the front desk.
So what happens when COVID-19 is added? Well, what has been the one thing that we have been told to avoid throughout this pandemic close, face-to-face interaction? In fact, brands are encouraging and even investing money in apps and other technologies for guests to avoid the front desk altogether. And the guests that are still physically checking in or checking out are spending less time doing so, behind a plexiglass divider and a mask. It’s not the ideal way for guests to share their feedback nor for hoteliers to resolve their issues. So with COVID-19, we effectively remove this filter, giving travelers a fast track to vent their opinions and experiences online with no idea of how they are feeling about our hotel and really no way to impact that feeling.
All Eyes On Your Review Responses
So where does that leave us post-COVID-19? It leaves us resolving guest issues online, right in the public’s eye. This impacts future traveler booking decisions with every single response we write. Pre-COVID-19, you may not have had as many traveler eyes on your online review responses. Today, post-COVID-19, there are more than ever.
The scary part for hoteliers using generic templates (or worse, not responding at all), is travelers are researching longer – and looking at your online responses closer than ever before. Think about it, travelers are determining whether or not to risk their health and personal safety to visit the property. If a guest leaves a negative review regarding cleanliness or safety, what are the odds they still choose your hotel with a generic response like the one above?
In fact, according to a study recently published by TripAdvisor:
- Three quarters (74%) of travelers surveyed say they will spend more time choosing a destination this year.
- Two thirds (66%) will spend more time reading reviews.
- 72% will spend more time selecting their accommodation.
This is why online review response is so critical to a hotel’s success in 2021.
Review response can also be used as a way for hoteliers to communicate changes at the property and set proper expectations for travelers. It’s setting these expectations that will be key in creating positive guest experiences at the property, and in turn, generate more positive reviews online.
Review Response Timelines
So, why is something so important and impactful to a hotel’s overall reputation and revenue treated so simply? For most hotels and some third-party review response vendors, the top line is what a review response timeline looks like. A guest writes an online review, a response is drafted, and that response is posted.
At Travel Media Group, our timeline and review response process is dramatically different. In fact, we actually extend the process, adding legwork that we do before the first guest review is left and long after the response has been posted publicly.
Correcting Review Response Mistakes
So let’s take a look at these response timelines side by side. Say someone at the property or a third-party company writes a review with spelling errors, grammatical errors, misinformation, or simply doesn’t address the concern of the traveler. On a timeline with no checks and room for edits, that review is going LIVE. On Travel Media Group’s timeline, there are multiple places where those errors can be caught and corrected before being posted publicly in the eyes of future travelers.
Now multiply that by all of the reviews that your hotel receives on a daily basis. It’s a lot: trust us, we know – our team of professional writers has responded to over half a million guest reviews online. However, every single one of those reviews that we have responded to we handled with the same care and attention that you would as if a guest were speaking directly to you from the other side of the front desk. Because we know the importance and impact that review response can ultimately have on our hotel partners’ bottom line. Reach out to us if you are interested in learning more about Travel Media Group’s Respond & Resolve™ review response solution for hotels.