Best Practices For Responding to Online Reviews

October 22, 2019
Review Responses

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How not to respond to hotel reviews is an art just as how to respond to hotel reviews. The way in which you can curate an appealing hotel review response to even the simplest of the feedback speaks volumes about your hotel’s overall reputation and professionalism.

For instance,

Fantastic
Rating: 9/10
By: Alice 

“Nice motel in SF in a quiet neighborhood. Walking distance to Fisherman’s wharf and Lombard Street. Friendly staff and free parking but there are not many parking spaces, don’t arrive too late. The room was clean and comes with a coffee maker.”

 

Your response,

Dear Alice,

Thank you for your fantastic response! We are glad that you liked the location and enjoyed your overall stay. Yes, we have a limited parking space for now. Also, we are happy to learn that you liked the room and the coffee maker in it. We are looking forward to welcoming you again!

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel                              Olivia, Guest Relations Team

By responding to online reviews, you are demonstrating to guests that you take their experience at your property seriously, and that you care about their feedback. Reading reviews is fast becoming the primary factor when people are deciding what online purchase to make, and in no industry is this more apparent than in the hotel industry.

Reviews play a vital role in attracting prospective guests to choose your property over a thousand other options available on the same platform. 81% of travelers find online reviews important and read them before booking a hotel. As per the research by TripAdvisor, 93% of the guests make their bookings after reading the reviews on the OTAs and 70% of the people read at least 6-10 reviews before actually choosing a hotel.

"93% of the guests make their bookings after reading the reviews on the OTAs and 70% of the people read at least 6-10 reviews before actually choosing a hotel."

Reviews are instrumental in influencing a customer’s booking decision. But how you respond to them is even more important as it helps the users predict a lot about your hotel. They say language attracts! A greater part of the reviews relies on language play. Words have the power to either make or break your business. Hence responding to the reviews is a skill that every customer care or management should master at its best.

Be Human

From the hotels’ perspective, generating reviews and responding in a timely, appropriate manner are becoming a crucial sales driver. If prospective guests can’t read reviews about your hotel, then they’re not going to book with you, it’s becoming as basic as that. In terms of responding, according to this research by TripAdvisor, 85% of users feel that a thoughtful and appropriate response to a bad review will improve their impression of the hotel, and 65% of respondents agree that they are more likely to book a hotel that responds to online reviews, compared with one that doesn’t.

“85% of users feel that a thoughtful and appropriate response to a bad review will improve their impression of the hotel, and 65% of respondents agree that they are more likely to book a hotel that responds to online reviews, compared with one that doesn’t.”

Before plunging headlong into how not to respond to hotel reviews, it is imperative to know a lot more about the significance of responding to the reviews. Why do we stress a lot upon this aspect of the hospitality industry? What role does the feedback play in the prosperity of your business?

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To begin with, Reviews are IMPORTANT!. Chant this mantra every day if you are a hotelier or simply include it into your pocketbook of universal facts. Now we will dive and revel into the benefits of review responses:

• Responding to the reviews demonstrates to the customers that you take their feedback seriously and care to listen to their opinions/queries

• A stellar response to your reviews will fetch you a lot of customers by swaying them to make decisions in your favor. Yes, we are hinting at the Bookings.

• Review Responses make a lasting impression on the guests. Even if a guest is displeased or disgruntled with the hotel service, your response can help to a great extent in cooling down a heated situation.

• A professional and, at the same time, a personalized response will pacify even the most dissatisfied customers.

• Review Responses are extremely beneficial in letting the customers know your side of the story without you having to be too defensive about yourself. This helps clear a lot of misunderstandings.

• Review Responses help understand the guests better and the areas where improvement is needed.

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While there are a lot of sources online that teach you how to respond to the reviews, in this article we are doing exactly the opposite. Here we bring you a few tips and pointers explaining how not to respond to the hotel reviews:

1. Don’t Forget to Address the Reviewer, and Let Them Know Who is Responding. In other words, ‘Be Human.’

Be Human

Always use the guest’s name when known, and always let them know the title of the person who is responding. This personalizes the review and will let the guest know that someone at the property has reviewed their comment. If they wish to subsequently contact the hotel, they will have a reference point. Also, while ‘Dear Guest’ sounds generic and anonymous, why not personalize your response a little more by addressing the user with his/her name if that information is provided? This surely helps the guests feel special about themselves. Everyone appreciates being called by name than being reduced to an anonymous entity. If you don’t have the user’s name at your disposal, you have no other option but to resort to ‘Dear Guest/Dear Traveller’ which is alright.

For instance,

Fantastic
Rating: 9/10
By: Alice 

“Nice motel in SF in a quiet neighborhood. Walking distance to Fisherman’s wharf and Lombard Street. Friendly staff and free parking but there are not many parking spaces, don’t arrive too late. The room was clean and comes with a coffee maker.”

 

Your response,

Dear Alice,

Thank you for your fantastic response! We are glad that you liked the location and enjoyed your overall stay. Yes, we have a limited parking space for now. Also, we are happy to learn that you liked the room and the coffee maker in it. We are looking forward to welcoming you again!

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel                                  Olivia, Guest Relations Team

2. Do Not Let Just Anyone Respond

Grammar Check

Make sure that the most appropriate person in your organization responds. This should be someone who knows how the hotel runs, and who can write knowledgeably about operational issues. In addition, the right person will have appropriate, professional language, spelling, and grammar.

3. Never Start Directly! Always Begin With a ‘Thank You.’

Thank you is a logical word

Sometimes, the writer or the response creator has a tendency to do away with a simple response quickly without giving it a proper beginning or end. Again, there are times when we feel like opening with a ‘sorry,’ as far as the negative reviews are concerned. While this is a common practice, starting with a ‘thank you’ will make a lot of difference. The reason we are saying ‘thank you’ is that we appreciate and acknowledge the guests making time from their busy schedule to write to us. So, do not forget your kindness. Thank you is certainly a magical word!

For instance,

Will never come back
Rating: 5/10
By: Jay

“Place was super dirty. The first room smelled like vomit and only when I complained they gave me another room. Homeless people were camping out in front of our room and the entire place felt shady with some other business…I definitely will not go back!”

 

Your response,

Dear Jay,

Thank you for writing to us about your recent stay. However, we are extremely gutted to hear that you did not have a positive experience. We are sorry to learn that you found the room dirty. We take cleanliness very seriously and we will definitely instruct our housekeeping to be more attentive to this factor in the future. Also, San Francisco is known for its homeless. But we assure you that there is nothing to worry about as we give a lot of priority to the safety and well-being of our customers. We are sorry for making you feel a little insecure. We hope that you will give us another chance to serve you better!

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel
Anne, Guest Relations Team

4. Do Not Forget to Apologize

Sorry

If someone has a poor experience at your hotel, then it goes without saying that they should receive an apology. Ideally, this will be at the start of your response, so that the guest (and any other readers) will know that you are taking the review seriously.

For instance,

Disappointed
Rating: 4/10
By: Rick


“I did not enjoy my stay at this hotel. I felt that my room could have been a lot cleaner, and I found my bed to be uncomfortable.”

 

Your response,

Dear Rick,

We are sorry that you were disappointed with your room, and that your stay with us did not meet your expectations. We apologize for the fact that your room does not appear to have been prepared to the standard that we normally provide for our guests. We appreciate your review, many thanks, and we are sorry that you didn’t enjoy your stay with us more. We will endeavor to make some improvements for future guests.

Best wishes,                                                  Olivia, Guest Relations Team

5. Never Be Too Personal. Remember it’s their Review!

Negative Reviews

There will be times when the guests will not be able to understand certain aspects due to the lack of enough information. But do not be too defensive! Justify only when required. Do it appropriately by offering assistance, either over call or email. So, ‘take it offline’ as this will help clarify things and in turn, will make the guests feel better that the hotel is interested in contacting them personally. There is a sense of importance attached to it. Being too defensive online will help escalate an already heated situation. So beware of this peril! Empathize! If you do not, this will make matters worse! Own up your faults and shortcomings and apologize by showing a resolution to change and improve.

Although you may be enraged by the experience that the guest has outlined (particularly if you know some of the facts to be untrue), keep your responses professional and appropriate. Avoid becoming defensive and angry. Again, remember that you want to encourage readers to come to your hotel, not put them off by coming across as an irate owner/manager, who they will be afraid to meet.

For instance,

Never coming back!
Rating: 3/10
By: Stephen


“I found the staff here to be rude and inconsiderate. They overcharged me for my stay, and I would not recommend this property in any way.”

Your response,

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for taking the time to leave your review of your stay. We are known for our professional, hospitable staff, and we are sorry to hear that this was not your experience. As you will recall, due to a change in your business plans, you departed the hotel early, but unfortunately, you were unable to provide us with adequate notice for us to resell your room. In this instance, we were forced to implement our cancelation policy, which is the overcharge that you refer to. We are sorry that you were unable to complete your stay, and that you felt that our team was rude when outlining our cancelation policy. We are disappointed that you left with such a poor impression of our property, but we hope that you enjoyed a comfortable stay, and that you will consider staying with us again when you are next in town.

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel
Anne, Guest Relations Team

6. Do Not Be Afraid to Correct the Misinformation That the Guest Has Given.

Correct the Misinformation

Let’s face it, sometimes guests do exaggerate their version of events, and you shouldn’t feel that you can’t correct the record. However, this should be done in a professional and factual manner.

For instance,

Not a good experience!
Rating: 6/10
By: Karen


“They harass you. You have to keep quiet. When I arrived my room was not ready and I had to wait 2 hours to enter my room. The staff called me repeatedly through the night about someone complaining about the volume of the TV. It took them 8 days to release my deposit hold and when I called to speak to the manager he could not help me.”

 

Your response,

Dear Karen,

While we appreciate your review, we are sorry that you didn’t enjoy your stay with us more. We, similarly to the vast majority of hotels throughout the world, secure a deposit upon check-in in the form of a “hold” over funds in a bank account, which is released at check-out once all charges have been paid. Unfortunately, it can take some banks a number of days to release the “hold” over the funds, but regrettably, there is nothing that we, the hotel, can do to speed this process. We apologize for not making this clearer to you whilst you were at the hotel. As you are aware, our check-in time is 3pm, and whilst we are happy to permit guests access to their rooms in advance of this time when they have been thoroughly cleaned and inspected, unfortunately, this is not always possible due to business levels. As you are aware, there was significant noise emanating from your room, and our staff were requested by other guests to lower the noise on a number of occasions. We trust that you understand our position on these matters.

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel
Marianne, Customer Care Executive

7. Never Make False Promises!

Do not delude the guests into thinking that you will definitely fulfill a particular expectation or request on their part. Remember, all feedback cannot be processed and all requests cannot be accommodated. Hence the word ‘try’ is crucial as it helps the guests feel that at least you are considering or pondering on their suggestion. However, be cautious while using ‘try,’ as too much of it might come across as an indicator of insincerity. So use it wisely!

For instance,

Okay
Rating: 6/10
By: Laura


“Location is around the corner from Ghirardelli Square
Beat up furniture, lights & hairdryer not working, just containers of croissants and mini muffins as breakfast.”

 

Your response,

Dear Laura,

Thank you for choosing us and for your review! We are glad that you found the location convenient. However, we apologize that you did not quite like the condition of the property. We are planning to renovate the place and we will also look into the issue with the lights and hairdryer and will try to fix it as soon as possible. Again, we are sorry that you were disappointed with the breakfast service. We will try our best to improve it. We hope to serve you more successfully in the future!

Best Regards,
Arnold World Hotel
Jake, Customer Care Team

8. Do Not Avoid Responding to Negative Reviews or Negative Aspects of Reviews

The complimentary reviews are so much easier to reply to, but it’s possibly even more important to respond to negative comments. Don’t forget that as mentioned above, 85% of people feel more positively towards a hotel that responds suitably to a negative review. Not doing so can send the wrong message to prospective guests, and make you seem negligent and cold. So, reply to all negative reviews, adequately addressing the experience that the guest has had, and outline what changes/improvements that you will make to improve the experience for future guests.

For instance,

Good
Rating: 7.1/10
By: Mary

“It is in a very convenient location, and my room was very comfortable. I enjoyed my stay overall, but I found a strange smell in my room throughout my stay.”

  

For response,

Dear Mary,

Hello and thank you very much for your feedback. We are delighted that you enjoyed a great stay at our hotel, and that the wonderful location that we have suited your plans so well. It is also wonderful to hear that you enjoyed your comfortable room. We are sorry that your room had not been aired sufficiently prior to your check-in, and we will ensure that this is an area that our housekeeping team focuses on in the future. We hope that you will notice an improvement when you next stay, and that you will have a perfect experience on your next visit. We look forward to welcoming you back!

Best wishes,                                                  Olivia, Guest Relations Team

9. Do Not Put Replying to Reviews on the Long Finger.

How not to Respond to Hotel Reviews

Again, this is easy to do – we are all busy people, and other things can often seem more pressing and important. However, according to this Moz article, replying to poor reviews is even more important than replying to positive ones. In fact, if resources are limited, then negative comments should be prioritized and responded to within hours, rather than days. This should demonstrate the gravity with which you take these comments. Pending reviews will surely bring down the patience level of the guests. Plus, it casts a negative impression on them. Pending responses might lead the guests to feel that you don’t care enough about what they have to say or their feedback.

10. Do Not Include the Business Name/Relevant Search Keywords for Negative Reviews

The power of SEO is unthinkable! So use it wisely. Avoid using the business name or relevant keywords from showing up in search, as far as the negative reviews are concerned. On the contrary, also mention the positives in an overall negative review if a customer has liked even one aspect of your service. This will help bring up the positives whenever the search is performed.

For instance,

Good
Rating: 8/10
By: Anonymous

“It is a nice hotel with free parking. It has a refrigerator and microwave. The bad thing is the wifi and it has no ice machine.”

 

Your response,

Dear Guest,

We appreciate you taking a moment to review your stay! We are glad that you liked the free parking and amenities. However, we are sorry to hear that you did not like the Wi-Fi. We will ask our technical team to spot and resolve if there’s any glitch, Again, we are sorry about the non-availability of an ice machine. We will surely pass your feedback regarding one to the management. We hope to serve you more successfully in the future!

Best Regards,
Anne, Customer Care Team

11. Avoid Canned/Generic/Robotic Responses

Generic Responses

Guests find cookie-cutter responses to be a massive turn off. Template-like statements are good only when blended well with a personalized, original response. Drafting an out and out generic response will surely not attract the guests. Again, it takes away from the ability to pacify and convince the customers to give you a second chance. A professional yet semi-casual and personalized response will go a long way in giving a positive impression to the guests. Show flair in your responses as if you are striking a conversation. An honest response is what matters!

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Examples of Generic Response/Statements

○ Your response is valuable to us and it is highly disconcerting for us to learn that you left without a first-rate experience.

○ Thank you for liking your stay!

○ Thanks for reaching out.

○ Thanks for your response.

○ We are waiting for your next visit!

[Note: We are not discouraging the use of these phrases. All we are saying is to assimilate them with the original context (guest response) for a personalized effect.]

A better example of perfect assimilation would be:

For instance,

Good
Rating: 8/10
By: Anonymous

“For San Francisco comparisons rather cheap, but still too expensive, for what you get offered. But a good location. Free parking also fits. The breakfast is very sparse, but enough if someone needs coffee. There is only coffee, croissants, orange juice, and small muffins. Whereby all of it should be from the discounter. On the whole, it has always been fine.”

 

Your response,

Dear Guest,

It is so good to hear from you! Thank you for your time and review. We are glad that you liked the overall service and enjoyed the parking benefit. Again, we are happy that you found the location convenient. However, we apologize that you found breakfast sparse. We will surely consider your suggestion and try our best to improve the selection. We hope that you will continue to visit us! Take care!

Apologetically yours,
Arnold World Hotel
Joel, Customer Care Team

12. Do Not Forget That Although You Are Replying to an Individual Guest, Your Response Can Be Viewed By Anyone Browsing the Site

A secondary, but very important purpose of your response is to encourage prospective guests to make a reservation at your hotel. So, treat each response as the marketing opportunity that it is!

For instance,

Nice
Rating: 9/10
By: Lydia

“Check in/Check out quick with no issues. Room was clean. Good shower water pressure. T.V. decent. Breakfast adequate for a “grab and go.” Coffee good. Staff friendly and helpful. Perfect for quick overnight stay for a.m. surgery at Stanford Lane Outpt. Surgery Center which is 3.7 miles away, though trip to longer than I expected because the traffic lights El Camino Real are brutal. Price was right for a quick overnight stay in Palo Alto.”

Your response,

Dear Lydia,

Thank you for your detailed feedback which is likely to be very useful for anyone who is considering staying with us. We are pleased that your stay was so successful, and that you had a wonderful time during your visit. We hope that you will have another opportunity to visit this beautiful area and our hotel soon.

Best wishes,                                                  Olivia, Guest Relations Team 

13. Do Not Rush Your Response

Patience is the key to drafting a stellar response. A well-thought, patient and careful response is what the guests wait for the most. While it is important to maintain the deadlines since review management isn’t the only department that a hotelier has to tackle, yet a well-crafted response is essential. So do not compromise on the quality and devote a good amount of time to analyze each segment of the response. A quality response helps ascertain the status and overall reputation of the hotel to a great extent.

• • •

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Responding to the reviews online is surely a challenging task. However, with these tips on how not to respond to hotel reviews, you will be able to take the right road when it comes to maintaining your hotel management through your professional and accurate responses.

Still not confident about how (not) to respond to hotel reviews? Well, you can simply leave the mammoth and crucial task of reputation management and review response on GuestTouch. We help to bring all your reviews on a single dashboard and aid in responding to each of them efficiently and professionally by deploying some of our best response creators to upkeep your hotel’s reputation and response quality.

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