Just yesterday, Punxsutawney Phil came out of hibernation to let us know if there would be six more weeks of winter or if warmer weather was coming our way. Perhaps at one time, a rodent’s shadow was the best way to predict the upcoming forecast, but today we have Smartphones in our pockets, computers on our desks, and TVs in every room. So, if you need to know if you should put on a sweater before leaving the house, why rely on Phil when the experts at the Weather Channel are just a click away?
Likewise, when our guests are making purchasing decisions, they aren’t relying on old-school traditional advertising to predict whether they will receive a warm welcome or chilly reception when they walk in our doors. They are going to the experts – your past guests.
97% of consumers read online reviews during the decision-making process, with 84% sharing that they trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation. In addition to relying on guest feedback, consumers also look at how the company replies to anticipate the level of service they can expect to receive, making a personalized, positive review response a crucial tool for generating new business and building a loyal client base.
How an Original, Positive Review Response Can Create a Warm Reception
Studies have shown that management responses influence both the consumer's impression of your business and their purchasing decisions. 77% of travelers report that they believe a hotel that provides management responses cares more about their guests than those that don’t, and 62% of travelers say that they are more likely to book a hotel that responds to reviews than a similar hotel that does not.
Keep in mind that it’s what you say that matters most. Your guests are savvy, and they will see through a generic, canned response. To create a genuine connection and warm reception toward your business, you need to provide original, guest-centric replies to all comments on major review sites.
A personalized, positive review response shows that you genuinely care about your guest experience and value feedback, creating loyalty with the reviewer, and building trust and setting expectations with readers. This results in happier guests, as well as higher review scores and increased repeat business.
How to Write an Original, Positive Review Response
Writing an original, positive review response can take a little extra time, but it is certainly worth the effort. To create a genuine connection with your guests through your reply, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Make It Personal
There are a lot of businesses to choose from, and your reviewer not only picked yours, but they took the time to share their experience. Don’t just thank them, make it personal. By going beyond a simple “thank you” and sharing why their comments mean so much to your team, you can express sincere gratitude, share the values that your business prioritizes, and highlight why guests should choose you over your competitors.
Let Your Guests Know That You Are Listening
While you likely read and consider all the feedback that you receive, your guests are not going to know this unless you show them through your response. Let the guest know that you listen and care about their feedback by repeating or expanding on at least one comment shared in their review. To keep the mood positive, we recommend focusing on a compliment before addressing any concerns, when possible.
Share Helpful Information
Even if a guest raved about your business, in reading through their comments, you may identify some information that could make their next stay even better, such as an upgraded room type, a special event, or the benefits that come with your loyalty program. Sharing “insider knowledge” will make our guests (and readers) feel like part of the family and give them an incentive to hurry back for another visit.
Invite Your Guests to Return
Ending your review responses with an invitation to return reinforces that you value their business and, hopefully, inspires another visit. You can further personalize the response by signing your name and title, giving consumers a name to associate with your company, humanizing your brand.
Tips for Writing Positive Responses to Negative Reviews
Every business will receive a low-rated review now and then. When writing responses to negative reviews, you still want to follow the guidelines listed above, but here are a few more tips that can help you write a positive review response to low-rated feedback:
Stay Calm and Offer a Sincere Apology
By responding to negative reviews with a thoughtful message, rather than a reactive one, you can begin to rebuild the relationship with the customer and earn trust with readers. Whether or not you agree with their assessment, acknowledge the issue, and offer an apology. This will aid you in recovery efforts with the guest and show others that you care about providing a high level of service.
Provide a Solution
70% of customers are open to returning if you solve their problem. Let guests know any actions that you are taking to address this issue or offer insight into how the guest might further enjoy their next visit. Use this as an opportunity to reassure guests they won’t have to worry about this issue in the future, as well as overcome resistance among consumers caused by reading the review.
Move the Conversation Off-Line
Inviting unhappy guests to contact you directly gives them the chance to be (and feel) heard. This also will allow you to gain insight into their experience and provide you with the opportunity to earn back their trust as well as privately offer compensation, if needed. This public invitation to speak with you directly reinforces to readers that if something goes wrong during their visit, they should contact you, or your team, to resolve the issue rather than remaining upset.
Why You Should Provide Original, Positive Responses for All Reviews
Not only do review responses influence those researching your hotel or business, but your reviewers are also anticipating a reply. 53% of customers say that they expect a business to respond to their review within seven days; however, studies show that only 37% of consumers receive a message back. Providing an original, positive review response to each review will make your hotel stand out to both your past guests and those reading your reviews.
Consumers will value your commitment to customer service, as shown through your guest reviews and management responses, and this warmer reception will allow your company to stay at the forefront of their minds until they are ready to make their purchasing decision - whether visiting for the first time or as a repeat guest.
At The Reputation Lab, we work with hotels and restaurants and other businesses to create, implement and manage a reputation management strategy aimed at increasing online visibility, engaging your customers, and converting more shoppers to future guests and revenue producers. If you are interested in learning how a reputation management strategy can benefit your business, we invite you to email us via our secure contact form to set up a no-pressure consultation or call us at 855-979-6800.