Travelers are relying more and more on online reviews to help them make hotel decisions. In a survey of more than 900 people, travel-technology company Expedia Group found that, while price plays an important role in the choosing of a hotel, guest ratings/reviews are also an important factor in hotel selection. In their study, Expedia Group found that there is a 72 percent chance a customer will place guest ratings higher than a hotel brand name. The study also found that travelers will pay more for a hotel room if the reviews are positive. Roughly 24 percent of study participants said they would pay:
- 24 percent more for a hotel with a 3.9 rating versus a 2.4 rating
- 35 percent more for a hotel with a 4.4 rating versus a 3.9 rating
Clearly, guest ratings and reviews are something to pay attention to. The more positive ratings and reviews you have, the more likely new guests will be to book with you. Here, we provide three critical steps to getting as many online reviews as possible.
Step 1. Always Ask for Reviews
In order to start amassing ratings or reviews, you need to ask every guest to provide them. Not all guests will do it, so the more you ask, the better. Find a way to incorporate reviews into your post-stay, follow-up process. Multiple reminders is always a good approach. You can give guests a review reminder card upon checkout. You can ask them again in a brief follow-up email. The key here is to ask them to review you in one easy place – on Google or on your website – to increase the chances of follow through. And we highly recommend asking for Google reviews over Yelp reviews. Here’s why.
Yelp has become less and less relevant in recent years because it picks and chooses which reviews are published for a business. Yelp has a secret algorithm for deeming a review legitimate or not. For example, if someone leaves you an accurate five-star Yelp review, but that person has never reviewed a business on Yelp before, the review will be hidden – and there’s nothing you can do about it. Similarly, if someone leaves you a terrible, 1-star Yelp review that is a complete fabrication, Yelp can decide it’s fine and publish it. Given this practice, more and more businesses are staying away from Yelp and moving toward other review platforms that have a more fair approach to review publishing.
Google reviews are becoming the gold standard for online reviews. More and more consumers are using this review platform to make purchase decisions, hence it’s rise in popularity and efficacy. Google makes it easy and transparent to review any business. It’s fast and easy and all reviews are published regardless of how many other reviews the person has completed.
An excellent Google review rating proves to prospects that it’s a pleasure to do business with you. And it’s very easy for guests to leave Google reviews as they don’t need an app or special login to do so (like they do with Yelp). They simply open an internet browser, find your Google business listing and leave you a review or just a simple 1-5 star rating without any verbiage. Google posts all reviews instantly without assessing the alleged validity of the review. It’s for this reason that we recommend focusing your effort on Google reviews or reviews on your own website.
Step 2. Make the Review Process Fast and Easy
The easier you make the review process, the more reviews you will get. That’s why we recommend choosing just one review platform to focus on and drive people to it like crazy. If you ask people to leave you a review in several places, you’ll likely get none. But ask for just a Google review, and the chances of getting one is far greater. You can even create a card that lists the steps for leaving a Google review to make it as easy as possible for your guests. The easier and more straightforward you make the process, the more reviews you will get.
Step 3. Respond Timely to Online Reviews
Nothing is worse for your business than a negative online review that no one has bothered to answer. Prospective guests want to know that you pay attention to both good and poor guest comments and that you are striving to improve the guest experience. The more you are monitoring and responding to online reviews, the more relevant and engaged you will seem. Show prospects and past guests you care by keeping a close eye on reviews, and respond to anything negative right away, although never be defensive. You want to tell the guest you understand their frustration and give them your direct email or phone number so you can make it right. This shows that particular guest (and others) that you are willing to fix problems that may arise.
Reviews are the lifeblood of your online presence – get this right and winning new business will truly be a breeze.