A hospitality business's response to online reviews can have a significant impact on guest perceptions, guest behavior and its overall success. Effectively responding to online reviews of your hotel or restaurant will positively influence future guests. When feedback is poorly managed, guests may not return and when their disappointment is shared on an online review site, or OTA, your property’s online reputation is affected. Here are some tips for responding to online reviews:
1. Respond as soon as possible
Reply quickly, ideally within 48 hours, especially if the review contains negative feedback as it will adversely impact potential guests.
2. Try to respond to at least half of reviews
If you cannot respond to all reviews, prioritize reviews that require an explanation or apology and of course, don’t forget to acknowledge your promoters. Try to respond to all negative reviews and at least 50 per cent of reviews overall.
3. Be brief
Always thank the guest, speak to the specifics of the review and offer a sincere apology if applicable. If the review contains mixed feedback, acknowledge the positive first and then the negative.
4. Respond from a senior manager
Show how seriously your business takes guest feedback by having a senior member of your team respond and make sure to personalise the response with a name and job title.
5. Reflect the personality of your restaurant or hotel
It is extremely important to maintain an informal yet professional tone that reflects the personality of your business.
6. Try to respond in the reviewer's language
If the review is written in a foreign language, you can use a translation tool to better understand what the guest is saying. However, do not use one of these tools to translate your response because the meaning may be lost. It is best to respond in the language the review was written so that the reviewer and site visitors can understand your response. If you can’t post a professional response in the same language, it is better not to respond.
7. Clear up misinformation
Customers often get facts wrong in reviews and it is usually not intentional. If the error is minor, let it go. If it will set up expectations for other customers that you cannot meet, respond to clear up misinformation. Make sure you remain diplomatic and never accuse a guest of being dishonest.
8. Address specific comments
Try to minimise general comments and address specific points in the review. For example, rather than say “we are glad you enjoyed your stay/meal”, say “we are pleased to hear that you enjoyed the pool activities and the service provided by our staff.”
9. Be specific on how you are going to follow up
It’s important to let guests know how you intend to act on their feedback. For example, if it’s a positive review, tell the guest that you will share the feedback with the team. If the review is negative, be clear about the specific action that will be taken to improve.
10. Invite the guest to return
Finally, make sure you encourage guests to return whether they left a positive review or not. This increases chances of repeat bookings and the opportunity to rectify a guest’s bad experience.