"I dedicate two or three hours every Friday afternoon to respond to all of my online reviews - it's certainly a focus for us".
We speak to hotel and hospitality operators every day and countless times each week we hear feedback regarding online reviews that goes something like that.
While we appreciate that efforts are in place, we would not consider this a winning strategy. Online reviews on the most popular of websites are likely read by hundreds if not thousands of prospective guests each day. Consumers may only read the first few reviews at the top of the page before making a decision and if there is a lack of engagement in the form of management responses, that customer purchase might be lost.
The Effects of Approaching Online Reviews on a Weekly Basis
Consider this example: The General Manager at The Mars Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona tells us that he responds to online reviews every Friday afternoon. Let’s assume that The Mars Hotel earns 12,000 TripAdvisor Page Views per month which equates to roughly 400 page views per day or 2,800 page views per week.
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s also suggest that this same hotel earns 15 TripAdvisor reviews per week (just over two per day). With ten reviews displaying on each TripAdvisor page, this means by the end of a week-long period, The Mars Hotel now has a page and a half of NEW online reviews that do yet have a response. Not to worry though, the GM is going to sit down to respond to those 15 reviews on Friday afternoon!
But we SHOULD worry! During the seven days that have elapsed since the GM last responded to guest feedback, the hotel has earned 15 new reviews. And that front page has likely had 10 reviews on it without a response for two or three days. This means that 800 consumers came to The Mars Hotel TripAdvisor profile page and saw a front-page feed of ten online reviews, all without a management response. As we have previously shared, consumers who are reading your reviews are far along in the buying process, so we have to ask ourselves, how many of those 800 consumers bought elsewhere because they assumed The Mars Hotel is just not engaged with their guests? Many consumers do not click through to Page Two, so it’s important that your front page be managed in a timely manner.
And let’s not forget about the remaining 2,000 or so consumers who visited The Mars Hotel page in the early part of the week when management responses from the previous Friday were still visible. As the week progresses and more reviews are earned, those older online reviews which do have published responses start to shift further down the feed while the top of the feed starts to show reviews without a response. The Mars Hotel certainly risks losing a portion of these consumers as some may not scroll far enough down the page to find reviews with a published management response.
Accepting Reality and Finding Solutions
As a hotel operator, we have to face reality. If your approach is to set aside a weekly block of time to manage your reviews, what happens when distractions like budget season, pop-up guest needs, large groups which require your attention and owner meetings take priority? Your typical response time to online reviews may be further delayed by a day or two, or for some even a week, and the exposure to lost revenue opportunities is compounded.
Should our focus be JUST TripAdvisor? We think not! What about the dozens of reviews your hotel is receiving on Google, Expedia. Booking.com, or Hotels.com? Consumers using these booking channels are also close to making a purchasing decision, and they too seek reassurance through online reviews.
At The Reputation Lab, we work with hotels and restaurants to facilitate 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.