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  • Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums

    Revinate, Inc San Francisco, CA T +1 (415) 671-4703 E info@revinate.com http://www.revinate.com/

  • Table of Contents

    The Importance of Reviews 3

    Reviews Are Your Brand 3

    Best Practices for Responding to Reviews 4

    Should I respond to all reviews? 4

    Who should respond? 5

    When should I respond? 5

    What should I say? 5

    Best Practices for Increasing Review Volume 6

    Be Remarkable 6

    Dont Be Shy 6

    Be Scrupulous 6

    Listen 7

    Recognize and Reward 7

    Convert Upset Guests into Advocates 7

    Profiles of Top Review Sites 8

    TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) 8

    Expedia (www.expedia.com/) 10

    Hotels.com (www.hotels.com) 12

    Yelp.com (www.yelp.com) 13

    Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums

    http://www.Revinate.com/ 1

  • Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) 14

    Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) 15

    Priceline (www.priceline.com) 16

    Yahoo Travel (travel.yahoo.com) 17

    TravelPost (www.travelpost.com) 18

    Profiles of Top Forums 19

    FlyerTalk (www.flyertalk.com) 19

    BetterBidding (www.betterbidding.com) 19

    Fodors (www.fodors.com) 20

    Next Steps 21

    Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums

    http://www.Revinate.com/ 2

  • The Importance of Reviews

    Reviews Are Your BrandThe most influential source of information for people booking leisure travel is now online review sites 1. If you

    arent actively monitoring what customers are saying about your hotel online, you need to make it a priority.

    Hotel business is being won and lost every day because of user generated travel reviews and social media

    mentions.

    In fact, a recent global study of the hotel industry found that while location is an important reason why

    guests select a particular hotel, it is the guest experience that has the most influence on hotel selection2. In

    this connected age, it has never been easier for guests to share their hotel experiences with friends, social

    networks and every other traveler who researches hotels online.

    User reviews influence travelers on both travel review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs). TripAdvisor, one

    of the sites at the forefront of the social media revolution in travel, still dominates. Recently, however, online

    travel agencies have become the largest producer of online reviews 3. In the second half of 2009, OTAs

    accounted for 74% of all traveler reviews, up from 47% in the first half of 2008.

    Revinate focuses exclusively on helping hotels manage online reviews and social media. Our powerful,

    intuitive solution allows hoteliers to stay on top of everything being said online about their properties, and

    their competitors. We provide the analysis to understand just how social media impacts your business, and

    we guide you to the actions you can take to drive measurable profit.

    Because there are many review sites, and because each site has different guidelines for hoteliers, we created

    this document as a primer on each key source of reviews. Additionally, because were often asked for

    guidance on responding to reviews and increasing review volume, we partnered with Daniel Edward Craig, a

    leading voice on the best social media practices for hoteliers, to outline proven best practices.

    If you would like more information on Revinate, please email info@revinate.com or visit us at

    www.revinate.com. Also bookmark our blog at http://blog.revinate.com for our latest musings on the travel

    industry, hotels, and emerging trends in social media. And finally, we would love to hear from you about

    whether you find this document helpful and what other resources you would like to see.

    Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums

    http://www.Revinate.com/ 3

    1 Consumer Travel Report Part One: Behavioral Trends, PhoCusWright

    2 Market Metrix, What is more important than location in selecting a hotel? January 13, 2010

    3 Consumer Travel Report Part One: Behavioral Trends, PhoCusWright

    mailto:info@revinate.commailto:info@revinate.comhttp://www.revinate.comhttp://www.revinate.comhttp://blog.revinate.comhttp://blog.revinate.com

  • Best Practices for Responding to Reviews

    As a hotel manager, when a guest comes to the front desk to register a complaint, do you: 1) look busy; 2)

    skulk out the back door; or 3) handle the matter personally?

    Not that difficult a question, is it? Then why do only 7% of negative reviews on TripAdvisor get a response?

    Does the fact that reviews are often anonymous and directed at travelers rather than hotels let us off the

    hook? Or are hoteliers even paying attention? Consumers certainly are. Reviews are playing an increasingly

    important role in booking decisions. Some would say that online reviews deserve even more time than

    internal surveys, as the feedback is just as (if not more) valuable, and the impact is public.

    According to TripAdvisor, a propertys response to criticism can have more influence on traveler decisions

    than the criticism itself. Hoteliers have a chance to redeem themselves, yet the vast majority chooses to

    remain silent, willfully allowing reputation and business to suffer. Granted, not all review sites allow hotel

    responses. Online travel agencies posted three times as many hotel reviews than traveler review sites last

    year, yet whereas Expedia and Hotels.com allow responses, Priceline and Travelocity dont, effectively

    shutting hotels out of the conversation.

    Given their influence on booking decisions, its a safe bet that soon all OTAs will allow hotel responses. Its

    time for hoteliers to make more time for monitoring and responding to public feedback. Here are some tips

    for responding to reviews to minimize damage and cast your hotel in a more positive light. Each property will

    have a different approach, so I recommend answering these questions on your own and compiling the

    results into a brief strategic plan.

    Should I respond to all reviews?

    You should respond to any feedback that is damaging to your hotels reputation, even if simply to

    acknowledge the issue and apologize. An unanswered complaint leaves travelers to draw their own

    conclusions, as in I guess its true or The hotel doesnt care.

    Respond to positive reviews occasionally to show youre listening, to express appreciation and to reinforce

    the positive, but dont feel obliged to reply to each one. Travelers read reviews for advice from other travelers,

    not for a succession of gloating responses from hotel managers. That said, your advocates deserve proper

    reverence. If the host site permits, send a private note of thanks and flag their profile to acknowledge them in

    person on their next stay.

    Bad response: It is with tremendous joy that I read your most gracious remarks regarding our cherished

    employees, who take immense pride in pleasing our valued guests

    Hoteliers Guide to Review Sites and Forums

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  • Good response: Thank you for your wonderful remarks, which I have shared with our staff. We are thrilled

    to hear that you enjoyed your stay, and look forward to welcoming you back soon.

    Who should respond?Given their influence, online reviews should be handled at the highest level and disseminated at all levels. Its

    okay for a verbally gifted middle manager or executive assistant to draft responses, provided theyre

    approved byand addressed froma senior manager. As a rule I discourage hotel owners from responding.

    They have too much at stake and arent always as diplomatic as managers.

    Bad response: How dare you insult my bootifull hotel! I spit on your mothers grave!

    Good response: We welcome all constructive criticism, as it helps us to get better.

    When should I respond?

    The sooner the better. The longer a complaint is left to fester, the more business it will drive away. But first

    thoroughly investigate the incident, draft a reply, sleep on it, delete all threats and curses, and have it

    reviewed by a highly literate and judicious colleague.

    If your property rarely receives reviews, negative reviews will have a longer shelf-life, which makes monitoring

    and responding even more important. If you receive frequent reviews, regular responses are necessary to

    keep them up front and centerideally on the first page. To stay on top of reviews I recommend a reputation

    management tool like Revinate, which will scour the web for mentions of your hotel on all social media

    platforms and deliver a daily summary to your desktop.

    Bad response: I would have appreciated it if you had brought this issue to my attention while a guest

    rather than two years later.

    Good response: You will be happy to know that, as a result of guest feedback like yours, we have

    implemented the following changes

    What should I say?A poorly worded response risks making things worse, whereas a well executed response will prompt readers

    to conclude that, despite unfortunate circumstances, management cares and is on the ball. Thank the

    reviewer, acknowledge positive comments first, and apologize. Explain what youve done to fix the problem

    or why it cant be fixed. Readers will be put off by stock replies, and a few changed words wont fool

    them, so tailor each response. Never offer compensation, as it might encourage more complaints.

    Bad response: Lets try to avoid hyperbolizing, shall w