According to Barclays Feedback Economy report released today, engaging with reviews can increase trade and boost repeat business in restaurants, hotels and pubs.
Proper management of feedback could also provide an extra £1.2bn boost to the sector’s large supply chain by 2026, the study claims.
Online review sites have long been a sore point in the hospitality industry, with many concerned that that their business may be damaged by false or misleading reviews.
However, the site’s popularity among consumers is growing, with 45 per cent of people admitting that they are more likely to leave a review today compared to 18 months ago.
According to a Barclays survey of 2006 UK consumers, 59 per cent of people see online reviews as key when deciding where to visit or stay.
This rose to 70 per cent among millennials, who are also the fastest of any consumer group to vent their frustration online following a bad experience.
Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, said: “The rise of feedback sites has been a disruptive force within the hospitality industry over the past decade.
“However, there is even more that the hospitality industry can do to capitalise on this opportunity. Our research shows that being more responsive to customer feedback could increase the value of the UK hospitality and leisure industry to the wider economy by more than £3bn over the next decade.”
Despite its criticisms, it seems the industry is taking action. According to Barclays survey of 542 hospitality businesses, two thirds expect the role of online review sites to grow over the next 18 months.
Nearly 60 per cent of those questioned credited reviews as increasing trade, while 61 per cent said it had allowed them to identify problems with their business.
More than a quarter of restaurants, hotels and pubs are investing in staff training to manage customer feedback and 22 per cent are planning to appoint a dedicated member of staff to handle online reviews.
TripAdvisor was seen as the most ‘relevant’ site, with over half of businesses making use of feedback left on the platform.