If you’re wondering “do reviews matter?” They’re actually one of your most important marketing tools and can make or break your business success.
Online reviews have dramatically changed the way people make purchase decisions. Your online reviews can have a massive impact on your business success, affecting it on many levels.
How much do reviews matter? A lot.
Most people read and write reviews, according to research. In 2020, 72% of consumers had written a review for a local business, up from 66% in 2019, and 87% said they looked at online reviews for local businesses, an increase of six percent over 2019. More than half (52%) of consumers said they would not consider using a business with fewer than four stars.
In 2018, 70% of people were using rating filters and the most commonly applied filter was to see only businesses with four-star ratings or higher. Consumers also said they don’t trust businesses with lower than a four-star rating and 80% percent said the ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars. Ninety-four percent said an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.
Specific to hospitality, reviews may be even more important than they are for other business types. Tripadvisor found the following:
- 96% of Tripadvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning trips and booking hotels.
- 83% of Tripadvisor users will “usually” or “always” reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel.
- More than half of Tripadvisor users will not book a property that doesn’t have any reviews.
Research has also found that travelers are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with higher review scores when the prices are the same, and actually more likely to book a hotel with a higher score even when it’s more expensive. When asked, 76% said they were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores.
Encourage your guests to write reviews
As you can see, reviews are an intrinsic part of the buyer’s decision-making process. You should therefore be encouraging your guests to write them. Before doing this, send a customer satisfaction survey after a guest’s visit to ensure that the guest is happy with their experience. If their responses are less than positive, this is your chance to make amends.
Remember that many people won’t complain if they’re unhappy with a service or product; they just won’t come back. And, often, what they won’t say to your face they will say in a negative online review. Nip that in the bud before it happens. It works. I once had a mildly negative experience at a hotel and did not complain. They later sent a customer satisfaction survey and I wrote about my experience in the comments box. The manager immediately sent me an apology and a gift. I was mollified and continue to be a happy customer of this company (though I would not have posted a negative review).
Make your customers happy. Then encourage them to write a review by sending an email or message with links to review sites.
People expect companies to respond to their reviews
You should also respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative.
According to sources, 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within seven days of writing an online review, particularly if the review is negative. One in four expect a response within three days, and 21% expect a response within 24 hours.
How to respond? Be gracious. Never get defensive, fight or argue with a customer. Once in a blue moon that sort of response can work in someone’s favour, but it’s rare, and it’s far more likely to make you look petty. Apologize and say that you are sorry the customer had a negative experience. Ask how you can make it better. See if you can make them happy and maybe they will change their review. Statistics reportedly show that 33% of customers who received a response from a company after posting a negative comment changed their review to a positive one and 34% deleted the original negative review.
If a review is positive, say thank you. Someone took the time to say something nice, and it’s nice to recognize that. Not responding to reviews may reportedly increase your customer churn by up to 15%.
Reviews affect Google rankings
One final point: reviews affect your Google ranking. The results of a 2016 survey found that reviews accounted for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business. These numbers will change year to year, but they clearly have an impact.
Good reviews will boost your brand profile and image, while bad ones can sink you. You can’t afford to ignore this valuable – and cost effective – marketing tool. Pay attention to what people are saying about you.
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Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.