One of the most powerful mediums for setting the tone of a business is through online reviews. Guests often research reviews before booking, and with a little effort you have the potential to drive sales, revamp your hotel’s image and gather valuable information on ways to improve.
Why are online reviews an integral part of a hotel’s success?
First and foremost, because people use them. TripAdvisor alone has over 50 million unique monthly visitors and more than 60 million reviews. In a 2007 poll, 87% of users reported that reading online hotel reviews “greatly” affected their buying decisions.
Online reviews affect both online and offline purchasing. Just because a guest doesn’t book online, doesn’t mean he or she hasn’t seen your reviews. Additionally, reviews have a way of lingering in readers’ memories. Reviews your guests read today could affect their buying decisions years down the line.
Good reviews not only influence if they’ll pay, good reviews also influence what they’ll pay. The same 2007 study showed that consumers are willing to pay 38% more for an average 5-star reviewed room versus average 4-star. In short, a hotel with good reviews can charge more.
Review sites allow small hotels to stand out from the crowd. Review sites are a meritocracy – the best hotels rise to the top no matter what. Small hotels who can’t afford PPC, large SEO websites or extensive marketing campaigns still have a way to get to the top of a list.
Responding to online reviews, particularly negative reviews, gives hotels the chance to extend their brand and reach potential customers, with or without a website.
What are the marketing benefits of online reviews?
“We often hear from travelers that how a property responds to criticism has more influence on their booking decision than the criticism itself.” – TripAdvisor, Social Media Manager
Online reviews are a powerful marketing tool, in some ways better than a website.
Reviews provide free market research. These are your actual customers telling you what they want. The trick is to listen and make changes to fit their needs.
Online reviews offer a chance to further position your brand online and prove the quality of your customer service. This is also a big reason why a well-run Facebook or Social Media campaign is so important.