What do online ratings mean for your hotel?
Traveller ratings and reviews hold powerful influence on traveller decisions and live online for all to see. Presumably, for ever. Dismissing them as a one-way source of peer-to-peer information is missing an opportunity to communicate directly with past customers and potential guests. In doing so, hoteliers can better position their business online.
Travellers are more connected than ever, with 49% of smartphone owners and 63% of tablet owners in the UK using these devices to help plan trips, according to a recent report from Expedia Media Solutions. This connectivity will surely only increase the influence of travellers’ opinions.
But just how significant is this influence? Expedia Media Solutions recently released a whitepaper claiming that 18% of UK travellers rely on ratings and reviews before choosing their final destination.
When it comes to hotel search, our traveller data reveals that the numbers are even higher.
Our hotel rating search filters (smiley icons) are defined by the trivago Rating Index (tRI), which aggregates over 175 million hotel reviews from a multitude of sources globally. An algorithm is used to produce a 100-point index score, which is updated daily to produce a clear, transparent and unbiased rating for each hotel on trivago.
The following table shows the percentage of searches on trivago which used the top two smiley filters (Excellent and Very Good) for the UK’s five main inbound travel markets.
In all cases, the Excellent and Very Good filters were used mutually in more than two-thirds of all searches. This means if your hotel’s tRI rating isn’t high enough for these categories, your hotel won’t be seen in search results by those travellers.
*Data period is 1 Jan 2016 – 31 December 2016
What can hotels do?
To influence a rating that is aggregated from a wide range of sources takes action at the most granular level: individual reviews. Over time, this will filter through to your hotel’s score on the trivago Rating Index.
To improve your rating, identify and analyse your hotel’s review sources– such as those on OTAs, independent review sites, your own website and social media pages. Then, implement a reputation management strategy that addresses both positive and negative reviews, and provides tactics for maximising positive guest experiences. This should include specific focus on how to resolve issues effectively if they arise, to prevent them from undermining all your service efforts and becoming motivation for a negative review. Most importantly, integrate this strategy into your hotel’s daily routine, and think of ways that you can inspire staff to adopt this plan completely.
PwC recently analysed more than 11,000 hotels in 48 cities throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India, and found that only 14.4% of all online reviews received responses from the hotels. In the case of neutral and negative reviews, responses were only posted to 10.3% and 13.7% respectively. While they note that the hotels’ ability to respond may be limited, according to the policies of different review sites, it nevertheless suggests that hotels can do more to take advantage of the opportunity to join the conversation.
Responding to positive reviews is a no-brainer – it is an opportunity to exceed your guests’ expectations by showing them that their opinion really matters. Responding to negative reviews can be a bit trickier, and requires more consideration.
When responding to negative reviews here are our recommendations:
- Explain, don’t excuse or defend – it is important that current and potential guest alike view your responses as professional explanation. Accept feedback graciously and be honest.
- Identify an action – Future travellers need to be assured that they won’t encounter the same issue, so tell them what you plan to do about it to prevent it from happening again.
- Don’t over-promise – any action you describe will raise the expectations of your future guests. Only promise what you know you can deliver.
Take a proactive approach to reviews and ratings to improve your online reputation, and motivate more travellers to become guests at your hotel. When you do, you ensure that this evolving element of the online travel space becomes a two-way conversation: between traveller and hotelier. This is the best position to be in as it enables you to directly influence travellers’ decisions and grow your business.
By Aly Thompson
Aly Thompson is the Industry Manager for the UK and Ireland at trivago. She’s part of trivago’s Hotel Relations team; a unit that is reinventing the way trivago connects with hoteliers worldwide through its core product, trivago Hotel Manager (tHM), a free service used already by over 220,000 hoteliers worldwide that enables them to boost their ranking on trivago and drive direct bookings on their own website.
trivago will be at ScotHot 2017 to share their full range of solutions for hotels that enable them to harness their potential on metasearch. Visit Stand 4658 to learn more.