I know that responding to all reviews can be a time-consuming task, but here’s why you should focus on replying to as many reviews as possible on TripAdvisor or on other review sources such as Google or Booking.com. Simply put, it’s good for driving new business.
It only makes sense, since TripAdvisor is a travel website visited by millions of people every day, that broadcasting your own high-quality responses to guest feedback will help you see an uptick in bookings and rankings. It shows that you care about your guests, which not only drives loyalty, but also shows prospective guests that you deeply care about their opinion and about improving their experience.
Based on industry research, you have a few more reasons to respond to guest reviews:
– Almost 90% of travelers, share the opinion that an appropriate manager response to a negative review improved their opinion of the hotel.
– Hotels which respond to at least 50% of reviews enjoy a higher occupancy rate (6.7 percentage points on average)
– Almost 70% of guests, agree that they will overlook a negative review if there is a professional response explaining the situation
These statistics prove that responding to reviews can make your business more profitable and drive revenue growth for your hotel. But, there’s a catch. Additional studies prove that low-quality responses can actually hurt your business:
Non-personalized (copy-paste) responses actually decrease the chance of someone booking your hotel.Study by Wotif in 2015
How to post high quality responses & make sure you win
The main goal when you are writing a response is to convince prospective guests that you provide high quality service and that you care about the guest experience. Getting into fights with guests, even when they’re being dishonest, is not a good idea. Always keep in mind that what you are writing will be read publicly by hundreds or even thousands of other people, so you need to keep a professional tone.
You can create a winning responding strategy by following these ideas:
1. Make negative reviews less relevant
The most important step to ensure creating a positive impression for people viewing your property online, is to make bad reviews less relevant. By posting a professional response that shows that you commit to improving based on feedback, it’s highly likely that most guests will discard the negative feedback they read in the original review.
2. Use positive reviews to promote and highlight your services
You can also take advantage of positive feedback from guests in order to highlight the services & facilities that you believe are your strongest. By commenting on the topics your guests enjoyed, you have the chance to promote them to new guests and convince them to choose your hotel amongst the competition.
3. Connect with guests
Through your response you can show guests that you sincerely care about their opinion since you spent time to read and respond to their feedback. By using a friendly and personal tone, you can create a brand voice that your guests can connect with.
4. Improve loyalty
When responding to guests, a lot of the platforms where you get reviews (including TripAdvisor) will notify them of your response. If your response is personalized, they will appreciate it and share your hotel with their friends and family. Or they might even re-visit your property.
You should always avoid some pitfalls in order to make the most out of your responding strategy:
- Don’t include emotional statements, especially anger
- Don’t get into fights and avoid any aggression towards the reviewer
- Avoid responding in an apologetic way. Instead, try to ensure and convince future guests they won’t face the same problems described.
- Avoid painting someone as a liar, because this can come off as deceptive on your side
- No need to over-explain issues described in a review. Prospective guests only care about not facing the same problem when they visit.
- Don’t show signs of defensiveness. Accept the feedback and sincerely use it to improve the quality of your service.
- Never offer vouchers or coupons for a positive or negative review as others might try to abuse this
Important aspects of a winning response strategy
Focus on relevant reviews first
I’m talking about this aspect first because it’s very commonly overlooked. What are relevant reviews? Most OTAs and Metasearch sites like Booking.com, Google and TripAdvisor offer a default sorting method that displays the reviews they consider the most relevant. These are the reviews shown to guests whenever they view your property.
It’s obvious why you should post especially high-quality answers to these reviews, as they are the ones that will be viewed by many more guests. Some websites show different reviews as the most relevant, depending on the country of the guest that is viewing the property.
It is essential to post responses to all reviews that are displayed as most relevant so that guests have a clear view of your input as well. For TripAdvisor, I’d suggest responding to all 6 relevant reviews for the top 3-4 languages that your guests might be logging in from. (Tip: Use the language filter to see what the top 6 reviews are for each language)
Next Step: focus on recent reviews
Guests who are seriously considering booking your property, are very likely to view recent reviews as well to make sure that the quality of your hotel is consistently good. So the next target after you have covered relevant reviews, is to always make sure that recent reviews have professional responses. Do you need to respond to all the recent reviews? Not all, but ideally you should respond to as many as possible and in the worst case at least 40% of all reviews, including all negative reviews.
Large hotel chains maintain very high response rates, upwards of 80%, while sending highly personalized responses that highlight the quality and variety of their services.
Be on time
Negative reviews that stay unresponded cost you money for every minute they stay this way. It is highly important to respond to these reviews as quickly as possible in order to minimize the impact they have on future booking decisions. I suggest setting 1 or ideally 2 times per day where you will focus on responding to the most important reviews first, and if you have enough time left respond to less important reviews as well.
Have clear roles
Guests prefer to receive a response from the General Manager or another role that seems important. But it makes sense that the GM is a busy person and is not always available for responding to reviews. The balance that I have found works well is for the GM to respond to highly important reviews, e.g. negative reviews that contain harsh allegations, and for the hotel’s front desk employees, duty manager or social media manager to respond to more routine reviews.
Prioritize reviews when you don’t have enough time
When you don’t have enough time to respond to all or most of the reviews, then you can follow GuestFlip’s automatic classification which works as follows:
- High importance: Negative Reviews (Low rating, contains mostly complaints)
- Medium Importance: Mixed Reviews (Low-Mid rating, contains complaints and positive feedback)
- Low importance: Long positive reviews that offer specific feedback
High importance reviews need to be responded first, then medium and then low whenever you have the time.
Responding in multiple languages?
Should you respond to reviews in the language they were written in or not? The answer depends on who is going to read the response, because remember: you are mainly writing the response for the prospective guests. You should respond to foreign-language reviews in the same language only if you’re expecting traffic from the specific country. Otherwise, you should use english as a default so that most prospective guests can understand your response.
How to write short, clear and effective responses
Each type of review needs a different type of response. In this section I will split reviews into types based on their content and rating so that you can know how to respond to each type.
The opening is going to be the same regardless of the type of the review. You should always open with “Dear [name of guest]” when the guest has a clear name online. In case a guest has a username that is hard to read, then you can use “Dear Guest”.
Closing / Signature
You should always close with your name and role to make the response more personal. For example, if you’re the hotel’s Duty Manager you should sign with “Best regards, [name] Duty Manager”
Empty (or extremely short) positive reviews
This is a common case for Google reviews, since travelers can easily post ratings without writing anything. This is one case where you really don’t have a lot of data to work on, but still it’s a good idea to post a quality response even if it ends up being a bit generic.
In this type of review you have to cover 2 things:
- Thank the guest for the kind rating
- Show that you would love to see the guest visiting the property again
“Dear Guest, Many thanks for being our guest and for posting your wonderful rating. We look forward to welcoming you back at [our hotel’s name]! With kind regards, [your signature]”Free response template by GuestFlip for empty positive reviews
Empty (or extremely short) negative reviews
When the guest leaves an empty 1 out of 5 rating or a very short comment that doesn’t include specific feedback it’s a good idea to post a response that shows your commitment to excellence. This way you show that low ratings concern you and they don’t reflect your brand’s quality.
- Thank the guest for visiting
- Noting their concern
- Ask for a second chance
“Dear Guest, Thank you for choosing to visit [your hotel name]. We are concerned to note the rating you have posted and are sorry to see that you were not satisfied with your experience here. Hope you could give us another opportunity to welcome you back and prove that we can serve you better. With kind regards, [your signature]”Free response template by GuestFlip for empty negative reviews
Negative reviews with specific feedback
Negative reviews that contain specific complaints regarding your hotel’s services are the most tricky but also the most important reviews to handle.
- Thank the guest for visiting and for sharing their feedback
- Note the main issues (choose up to 2)
- Commit to improving
- Ask for a second chance
“Dear Guest, We would like to thank you for staying at [your hotel name] and for sharing your feedback. We are concerned to hear that you were not quite satisfied with your visit and experience, mainly with the [topic 1], as well as [topic 2]. Your input has been taken into serious consideration to ensure that corrective measures will be taken. Once again thank you for being our guest. Hope you could give us another opportunity in the future to welcome you back and prove that we can serve you better. With kind regards, [your signature]”Free response template by GuestFlip for negative reviews with specific comments
This template works, because you show honest concern about the issues raised in the review, without over-apologizing about the issues and while showing commitment to improving.
If a negative review contains serious allegations, such as unexplained charges or accusations of fraud then you should treat it very seriously. Include contact details such as an email or a phone in the response to allow this guest to contact you and hopefully solve the problem.
Positive reviews with specific feedback
Positive reviews that contain feedback about specific services and facilities are much easier to respond to compared to negative reviews. They also offer you a chance to promote your property and turn the positive review into an extra selling point for your hotel.
- Thank the guest for visiting and for sharing their excellent review
- Highlight the main topics (2-3 max)
- (Optional) Mention whether or not you shared the nice comments with your colleagues
- (Optional) Include a suggestion for next time
“Dear Guest, Thank you very much for choosing to stay at [our hotel name] and for sharing your lovely review. We were glad to learn that you enjoyed your visit here and that [topic 1] and [topic 2] contributed to making your stay delightful. Your comments nice comments about [topic 3] are appreciated and have been communicated to my colleagues. Definitely look forward to welcoming you back! We suggest trying our [extra service] next time you visit our hotel. With best regards, [your signature]”Free response template by GuestFlip for positive reviews with longer comments
You can use this guide to create a comprehensive strategy for responding to your hotel’s reviews. Remember to respond on all channels where you receive reviews in order to ensure high rankings and to improve your overall occupancy rate over time.
With GuestFlip you can view all your reviews in one dashboard and use our automated response builder to create personalized responses in a matter of seconds.
Closely monitor your competition using our competitive intelligence tool and set goals to improve your overall ratings.