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Travel: Responding to customer reviews increases loyalty and bookings
Hotels are missing out on a valuable opportunity to create loyalty and interest when they fail to respond to reviews customers leave online, according to new research from online reputation experts TrustYou.
No sooner than they have unpacked their cases and picked up the pets, today's holidaymakers head for review sites to enlighten other travelers about the good, and the bad, of their trip.
However, hotel owners aren't playing ball. Rarely does a hotel owner bother to respond to feedback left on the likes of TripAdvisor and other travel review sites
According to Margaret Ady of TrustYou, just 32% of hotels respond to their guests' reviews, the remainder stays silent.
"This small percentage of responders is doing something right," writes Ady on the company's blog. "Responding to guests is one of the simplest ways to increase customer satisfaction and drive loyalty once a guest has left the hotel."
Furthermore, over two-thirds of travelers (68%) who research accommodation feel that their perception of accommodation is enhanced when management have responded and, as such, they would choose a hotel that had responded to reviews over one that had not. Even a hotel's response to negative reviews reassures 79% of travel researchers that the management will be responsive to their needs.
So what are the silent majority's excuses for their lack of response? TrustYou's research found that a lack of time, not agreeing with the customer's review and feeling awkward about leaving a management response are all reasons for their silence.
And finally, hotels looking to increase the number of reviews they receive can actually encourage more reviews by providing their feedback. TrustYou's research found that hotels that respond to guests' feedback also average 147% more reviews than their silent competitors.
"More reviews help hotels in many ways; rankings and visibility improve on review sites and SEO is improved, driving more customers to a hotel's own website. Scores also improve," says Ady. "This is because with each additional review, one negative score carries less and less weight."
Hotel owners should consider the use of online reputation management tools. Such tools can streamline response management by sending alerts when new reviews have been left and presenting all reviews on one platform rather than having to browse each review site separately.
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