The European Hotelier Pulse Check, which questioned 114 Choice hotel managers across Europe, found that, as more guests are leaving comments about their businesses on review websites such as TripAdvisor and via social networks, many hotel managers are having to dedicate time out of their day to respond to them.
Overall, 61 per cent of the hoteliers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, spent one to three hours responding to online reviews while in the UK the figure is higher at 70 per cent.
At De Vere properties, the time spent is slightly lower, but Calum Russell, commercial marketing director, De Vere Hotels and De Vere Village Urban Resorts, told BigHospitality that monitoring and responding to online reviews has become an important role for the modern hotelier.
"Customers no longer seek their information about a property just from the hotel website, but will now refer to review sites and comments on hotel booking sites, so we have to be savvy and make sure we are aware of what people are saying about us," he said.
"Customer feedback has now become very public so it's important to have processes in place to handle this. We have a standard to respond to every comment – both positive and negative - within 48 hours so the time spent on online reviews can be a couple of hours a week for each hotel, but will vary from property to property."
Monitoring the web
While more guests make use of emerging technology to make their views known, the hotelier is also following suit, with many opting to use monitoring tools to help make the process less painful.
"To make it easier for our management teams we have invested in a tool called ReviewPro, which helps us to gather comments about De Vere properties from across the web and enables us to respond quickly," said Russell.
Duncan Berry, UK chief executive of Choice Hotels Europe, said his company was making Medallia, a special review monitoring platform available to its franchisees and general managers.
“GMs spend a lot of their week responding to customer feedback. While this is a key part of their role, we are delighted to offer them a quicker and smoother process that will free them up to step up marketing activities which is their number one business goal for 2013," he said.
Choice Hotels Europe's survey also found that hoteliers were engaging more with social media. The number of hotels creating a profile of their business on social networking sites rose to 58 per cent from 47 per cent the previous year and 43 per cent regularly post news and information on social networks now compared with 33 per cent in 2011.
TripAdvisor for business
The news comes as TripAdvisor reported that 50,000 hotels and other accommodation providers are now signed up to its Business Listings service. Adding a Business Listing to a hotel's TripAdvisor page enables the company to gain a greater visibility through the site's Special Offers and Mobile Upgrade features to help drive bookings.
“TripAdvisor’s recent Business Listings and Partnerships milestones are evidence that a growing number of hoteliers and other travel brands around the world are embracing TripAdvisor, its content and services,” said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business.
“A strong online presence is vital for accommodation businesses today. We’re seeing more and more brands adopt TripAdvisor Business Listings because it’s a nimble solution that helps accommodations upgrade their online and mobile presence, and we are continually innovating to help them maintain a competitive edge.”