What's in it for me?
A sweet guide emphasizing the authenticity of your hotel business through the negative reviews by adopting a balanced approach in helping you understand why responding to the negative reviews is more important than striving hard to keep the negative review score at a zero (which is most of the times, uncontrollable).
It acquaints you with the customer and reader's psychology upon encountering such reviews, the impact of a well-crafted, management response to the same, besides giving some useful hacks and tips on how to respond professionally to sensitive and toxic online reviews!
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently." -Warren Buffett
Online reviews have increasingly become an integral part of the entire online hotel business ecosystem and are poised to play an even greater role in the hospitality sector. Online reviews can be considered as a form of feedback provided by the customers in the virtual domain regarding their experience while staying in a hotel.
Research shows that 88% of consumers seem to trust online reviews as much as personal referrals. Again, 79% of users go through at least 6-12 reviews before booking a hotel. Hotels have slowly begun to realize the importance of online reviews with the emergence of concepts such as Review Management or Online Reputation Management (ORM).
But while the hotels demand their online profiles to be flooded with reviews, the guests, on the other hand, demand their reviews to be answered. In other words, your guests want to be heard by expecting a response from your end.
Hence be it positive or negative, hotels should always respond to the reviews. With negative reviews demanding even more attention, hotels should also make it a point to respond to a negative review too.
Reviews have become important for businesses across the line as more and more consumers are in favor of consulting online reviews before purchasing/subscribing to a service. An increase in awareness of the consumers has led them to seek more options, the best possible price, and the top quality experience. Reviews are important for both the hotel and the guests.
Hoteliers can improve customer contact and enhance visibility. On the other hand, prospective guests can utilize this particular tool during booking a hotel.
Therefore, a customer-centric approach on your behalf can lead to a massive surge in both reputation and profitability. More and more people are taking advantage of tools such as online reviews to ensure a better experience in return for the money they are going to spend.
This implies that not only people are considering it to be an integral part of their purchase decision, it simultaneously indicates the high level of confidence and trust potential consumers have in the opinion of their fellow consumers. In case of having to decide between two same properties, almost 79% of travelers are likely to reserve a room with a higher rating. In addition, 52% of the travelers are not willing to book a property without any reviews.
Should Hotels Respond to Negative Online Reviews?
A holiday or a vacation is a special occasion for any person or family and something that we all look forward to throughout the year. It is a special part of anyone’s annual time schedule and is not something everyone can plan or afford every day. Therefore, a lot of planning goes into the entire decision-making process of selecting a holiday destination and booking a hotel.
The guests take all the possible steps to ensure that they have a memorable experience and book hotel rooms with similar expectations. The moment something goes wrong or the trip turns sour, a negative review looms on the horizon. Unsatisfied guests as a result of a failure on your part (generally) in terms of service quality, facilities, rude staff, and so on are most likely to provide negative feedback.
These enraged guests are going to vent out their disappointment or anger/frustration in the form of a review. Ignoring or avoiding these negative reviews hurt your reputation and, in turn, impact the profitability of the business.
Therefore, ignoring negative reviews is a serious error of judgment and it not only stands to impact your reputation but also affects the ranking on platforms such as TripAdvisor or Booking.com. In addition, it also leaves a poor impression on the current and potential guests.
So, why are negative reviews significant:
• Responding to a negative review helps target the problem areas
• It helps to know what customers/guests think about your service or various aspects of the service
• It helps to focus on the areas where improvement is the need of the hour
• It helps in striking a balance indicating that no business is perfect and that negative reviews are important to know the taste and perspective of the customers
• It can be used constructively for bringing about future modifications
• It provides a more realistic look into your hotel business and put more trust in the customers
• It gives a chance for you to tell your side of the story in cases of misunderstandings and to make amends.
Negative comments stand to impact the booking decision of your hotel. However, this feedback can also be used to fix the holes that you were not aware of. Hotel review management usually helps in the assessment of your hotel’s weaknesses and strengths.
This helps you to provide your guests with a better experience and enhances their satisfaction level, and it ultimately leads to securing more positive reviews and a surge in the booking. Yes, respond to a negative hotel review. That is all it takes!
It is imperative for you to realize the significance of negative reviews and various measures that need to be undertaken to minimize the inflow of negative reviews.
You can initiate this process by outlining the various sources of negative reviews to successfully tackle them and enhance your reputation considerably. Some of the sources of negative reviews are as follows:
• Customer dissatisfaction
• Lapse in service
• Negative or bad staff attitude
• Unresponsiveness of the front desk
• Brand reputation
• The mood of the customer
• Cleanliness and upkeep
• Faulty equipment
• Bad odor and a lot more
Negative reviews are a dreadful aspect for any organization/management. It usually outlines your shortcomings and has the potential to hamper your brand’s reputation which in turn, can impact your profitability. You might consider negative reviews as a dreadful reality but online reviews and a good reputation on the virtual medium is considered to be an important aspect for businesses.
According to a study, negative reviews are usually frowned upon by establishments that have almost 87% of them unwilling to address them. 82% of the consumers specifically seek out negative reviews.
As much as a property or hotel owner can frown upon the negative review on their service, responding to it is still a must. Some hoteliers deliberately avoid being in a spot where they will have to respond to a negative review, feeling that it will have an adverse impact on the psychology of the visitors coming to read reviews on their platforms and that their response will only make things worse, thereby letting the onlookers believe that whatever happened with the complainant was a real incident and that the hotel was genuinely at fault for providing such a poor quality service.
In short, they believe that entertaining the negative reviews will only serve to put off their other guests and prospects, leading them to abandon any sort of action they’d be willing to take initially (researching the stay, booking the hotel, contacting the hotel, etc.)
But what they don’t realize is the magnitude of staying silent costs a hotel even more than getting a negative review. By not replying to a bad review, a hotel is putting itself at greater risk in the eyes of others who are likely to get turned off upon seeing that the management has not even taken the trouble of acknowledging their guests’ concerns.
That’s where the “unreliability” factor comes in, thanks to the apparent “indifference” to the people’s opinion shown by the hotel. In other words, saying “nothing” on a hotel’s part can still mean “everything” and carries the massive potential of being interpreted by the guests in the wrong way.
Consumer psychology behind negative reviews to a large extent depends on the consumer behavior and therefore it is important to have a detailed knowledge of the same. You might be willing to see what exactly impacts the decision of a consumer to behave in a certain way in order to highlight them and address them separately.
So how does a guest or potential guest feel upon seeing a proper management response to even the worst of the hotel reviews?
While the response might not carry within itself the massive potential of pacifying a disgruntled consumer to the extent imaginable, it can still help highlight the fact that the hotel “listens” and at the same time wants its guests to feel heard. As for the prospective guests, it can still go a long way in leaving a rather positive impression on their minds.
Just because a hotel makes it a point to respond to a negative review received, it does not in any way guarantee that the visitors will be readily down to book your property, impressed by your review response (sorry for pricking your bubble here but let’s just be real). But it can still instill within them the understanding that no business is “perfect” and that addressing the loopholes counts as a redeeming factor.
Thus, as mentioned earlier, negative reviews do not always imply the poor condition of the business. It is rather an opportunity for you to assess your areas of weakness and take adequate measures to ensure such instances do not reoccur in the future. Therefore, it is important for you to address the issues raised by the guests and rectify the errors.
In this digital age, your first impressions are primarily made online. A single negative review, negative news, or scathing evaluation usually jumps from the screen and once noticed is usually not possible to forget. A single moment of lapse in concentration can come back to haunt you in the form of a negative review.
That one black mark usually stands out in the heaps of praises bestowed on you by your previous guests. Negative reviews are inevitable and cannot be done away with completely. So, the faster an organization realizes this, the chances of dealing with it increase exponentially.
However, not all organizations emphasize this particular aspect and hence, do not address customer concerns. You might worry about the impact of bad reviews on your reputation, but you cannot shun the impact of non-responded negative reviews.
In a way, negative reviews are an indication of the authenticity of your business as businesses are usually built by humans and it is impossible to be perfect and satisfy all your guests. However, a large amount of negative reviews is certainly not an ideal situation to be in and must be appropriately dealt with. It is estimated that hotels stand to lose 22% of their bookings due to the negative reviews and the number significantly increases to almost 70% when these negative reviews are present across different mediums.
A study by TripAdvisor revealed that 83% of the guests would certainly book again if a reasonable response is received by them. Another study by TripAdvisor stated that a mere 1% increase in the hotel rating significantly increases the potential of booking a hotel by more than 11%. In order to effectively deal with disappointed and disgruntled customers and simultaneously address their concerns and restore their faith in you, it is important to have a strategy in place.
It is evident from the above section that, majority of the customers heavily rely on online reviews, perhaps more so on the management of negative reviews.
Customers’ purchase or booking decision depends on the reputation that hotels have built up through responding to negative reviews apart from the positive reviews. Apart from that, there are other side-effects of not responding to negative reviews which are as follows:
• Customers don’t trust organizations without negative reviews
• The nature of the response also impacts the consumers’ decision of booking a hotel
• It leads to a loss in revenue which is almost 15%
• Negatively impacts the confidence of the consumers
• It leads to negative publicity and loss in potential customers
• Low search engine-ranking
Hotels have increasingly realized the importance of addressing the negative reviews, as they are considered to be directly related to the reputation of the organization.
The responses to the negative reviews in comparison to the positive ones are much more important as they stand to have a larger impact on the reputation and revenue of the organizations. Implementation or usage of proper management tools is impertinent to build a reputation and generate long-term benefits. Some of the benefits that you gather when you respond to a negative review are as follows:
• It helps in building up the confidence of the customers
• It helps to win the trust of the customers
• The customers feel valued
• The customers remember the experience provided to them
• Helps the hotel to locate the areas that need work and evolve their reputation
• It helps in decreasing the cost of acquiring new customers as a good reputation attracts potential customers by itself
• The hotel stands to benefit massively from wealth creation and revenue increase
In the hospitality industry, word-of-mouth marketing is an essential step to sustain as a brand and succeed in the long run. As much as 79% of consumers weigh guest reviews as much as recommendations from relatives, and one study from the UK found that 47% of guests have abandoned plans to stay in a hotel after reading a negative review of the establishment.
Most organizations avoid responding to negative reviews as they don’t have a particular system or a set of strategies for effectively addressing them. Organizations that respond to a negative review are favored by 45% of the customers. While negative reviews are considered to be a scary endeavor for a lot of organizations, it also has the potential to address their weakness.
This section attempts to address this particular issue with certain useful hacks and tips that can be implemented to deal with negative reviews:
It becomes important to respond to the negative reviews quickly to ensure that angry guests know that their concerns were addressed. It is also important to be humble and detailed oriented.
It is also impertinent to be professional and apologetic to minimize the potential damage of harnessing the reputation. It is important to make the angry customer feel heard and, hence, an empathetic approach is necessary.
It is advisable to keep your responses professional, positive, timely and brief while mitigating a negative review. This helps in establishing a sense of trust and connection among the two parties and guests are more receptive to your response.
To respond to a negative review presents the hotels with an opportunity to address areas of concern that might have been overlooked by them. This is the reason why it becomes even more important to address the weak areas as it not only helps to address the situation but also helps in making the customers feel important and heard.
As stated already, negative reviews can be considered to be an opportunity to improve both the hotel’s reputation and address the customers’ concerns simultaneously.
However, merely taking steps may not be sufficient, as it is important to let the customer know about the steps undertaken by the hotel to address their concerns. This can quickly turn the situation in the favor of the institution and help them build trust and instill confidence in the customers.
As mentioned already, negative reviews are not necessarily a bad thing for your business and can be considered to be an opportunity to address the areas that need work while simultaneously winning over your disgruntled guests along with other potential travelers. It highlights your empathetic nature and shows your prospective clients that you really care about them.
There is no best way! In other words, your best way is completely based on the problem in hand and the extent to which you are able to provide a solution to the same. Empathizing with the problem is the base to get started with. Eventually, you can figure out what works the best for you. Confused? Here are some negative review response templates to help you get the hang of it:
“Loud noise from the adjacent room and cleanliness was totally overlooked. Not coming back!
Thank you for taking the time to share with us your experience. I wish to apologize for the lack of cleaning that was provided by our housekeeping department. That is unacceptable and has already been addressed with our housekeeping team. I would also like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to you due to the noise. Had you advised us about the noise issue at the time, we would have rectified the situation immediately or possibly offered you a room move. Please know that we are always there to assist you with your needs. We want you to experience the best value for your money, feel comfortable, and have your expectations exceeded; I hope this will be the case during your next stay with us!
Arnold World Hotel
Anne, Guest Relations Team
“Location was probably the only thing that was good about this place. Bad service, dirty, noisy and what not it was. Please avoid it at all costs!"
We appreciate your feedback and take your comments and suggestions seriously. We are sorry that you encountered issues during your stay. Our housekeeping staff is held to a very high standard and we appreciate that you've informed us of a need to address housekeeping policies and procedures. Thank you again for letting us know your other concerns. We're extremely sorry to hear that the service rendered was not up to the mark. Although this is very unusual, we've taken cognizance of your experience with us and without meaning to offer any excuses, we'll work hard to bring about the necessary changes. We are sincerely very sorry for the dissonance faced. We look forward to the pleasure of welcoming you back where we'll make every effort to ensure that you have a pleasant stay!
Arnold World Hotel
Anne, Guest Relations Team
“Spotted a roach. Bad place. Don't recommend."
Thank you for writing to us about your recent stay. We are sorry if your experience with us was not in accordance with your expectations. Again, we regret the inconvenience caused to you. Although we do not have any roach issues at our place, this might be taken as an occasional spotting. Sometimes, even the best of us cannot prevent a roach from climbing up a drainpipe and making itself visible to the guests which is unfortunate. But we understand your concern and we will definitely fix this issue by doing the needful in this regard. We request you to give us another chance to restore your faith in us!
Arnold World Hotel
Anne, Guest Relations Team
Even if negative reviews might be eye-piercing and heart-rending at the first glance, one has to understand that without these there is no going forward.
Even if you are the best in your field, you will still encounter this. Again, it is true that negative reviews may not always be a product of bad service on a hotel’s part. These can also be a part of the vendetta or hostility against a property nurtured by competitors or frauds harboring the malice and intent of tarnishing your brand’s reputation.
But to respond to a negative review appropriately and “always” is the actual way around. To respond is to make someone feel heard and at the same time is instrumental in getting your point across. To show what you customers and their perspective mean to you, a proper management response to all your reviews (positive, negative, neutral) is therefore a Gospel to live by!
Good or bad, it’s important to address feedback from your guests online. Review responses are a chance to provide customer service to the guest and additional context to others reading the responses. With GuestTouch, expedite your review response process, track and manage all your reviews in single dashboard for timely responses, keep fake reviews at bay, respond professionally to all your reviews, especially the negative ones.
• Track & manage everything on the go with one of a kind WhatsApp integration
• Provide your input with one tap
• Gain full control over every response through the auto-approve feature
• Gain operational insights for future performance.
Curious? Get in touch with us today to know more!
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