How To Encourage Guests To Leave Reviews
Customer reviews are more important than ever in this era of social media. This is especially true for hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other lodging businesses where travelers are looking to invest time and money in their purchase. Future guests trust those who have already stayed with you to be their eyes and ears and assist them in determining whether your rooms, amenities, and service are as great as your marketing implies.
Hotel reviews are a popular source of information for tourists. According to a study by Tripadvisor of 23,000 people who book hotel rooms online, 81 percent read reviews of lodging and restaurants before booking a hotel, and 86% feel more confident in their decision.
However, just because your consumers had nice experiences and liked their visits doesn't mean they'll leave favorable feedback. Only 10% of satisfied clients will give a good review. Most content consumers will be on their way after that. Unfortunately, if your customers are unhappy, the statistics are drastically different. The typical dissatisfied guest tells up to 15 people about their experience, and that doesn't include people that might read their online review.
With so much of your future business riding on guest reviews, it’s vital to make sure visitors are not only pleased with their stays, but that they also share their positive opinions online. Here are some tips to encourage guests to leave positive reviews.
How To Encourage Guest Reviews for Your Hotel
Make it simple and be direct: There’s a good chance your guests actually chose to stay with you because of a positive review they read themselves, so it’s probably no secret how important they are to your business. Simply mentioning that a 5-star review left on their site of choice would mean so much to you could be all you need to do. But you can take it a step further to make it as easy as possible for everyone to leave guest feedback for your hotel:
- Print a QR code or a short, vanity URL on one side of a business card with a special offer printed on the reverse side, so they will be more likely to retain the card. Link the QR code or vanity URL to a feedback webpage. Keep these cards in each guest room and at the front desk. Ask your staff to hand the business cards to your guests either when they arrive or as they leave.
Tip: There are tons of services that allow you to quickly create shortened website addresses and QR codes - many of them free! Here are two suggestions to get you started:
- If you provide printed invoices or folios, include a hand-written invitation asking guests to provide a review.
- Send your guests an email with a direct link to a review site.
Tip: Your property management system should provide you with the ability to have automated emails sent upon check-out, so make sure to include a review request along with links to your preferred sites in this template.
- Text your guests to thank them for their stay and include a review site link. If you’re already using texting as a form of guest communication, definitely continue the conversation after the stay!
- Remember that not everyone is tech savvy. Consider keeping an old-fashioned suggestion box with printed, postage-paid postcards stacked neatly nearby. It may take an extra step to enter a hand-written response to your website, but remember that it took your guest a few extra steps to write the review and mail it to you.
Reward guests for reviews: Offer your guests a gift or reward for an online review. It doesn’t need to be much, but it does need to have value. For example, a discount on a future stay means little to a guest who doesn’t plan to be in your part of the country again, but a gift card to a national coffeeshop chain or donation to a relevant charity could be more valuable to your out-of-town guests. For example, if you’re in a college town, offer a donation to the college’s scholarship fund for every review received. If you’re a pet-friendly motel, offer a donation to the local animal shelter. Another idea is to add all new reviews into a raffle drawing monthly for a prize of some kind.
Note that you never want to incentivize guests to leave a specific review or a positive review. Make it clear that you’re thankful for their feedback and the reward is available to all reviewers.
Create a fun social media poll: Social media polls are easy for guests to complete because the questions can be binary — participants could answer with either option A or option B. Ask your guests to rate an element of their stay, such as “Which free breakfast item did you prefer — the homemade biscuits or the homemade cinnamon rolls?” Feature eye-catching photos of the options. Link them to a dedicated webpage, where they can go into more detail regarding other aspects of their stay. Be sure to ask if you can feature their responses online.
Tip: Make sure to repurpose the feedback you receive! Include quotes in an article, an email newsletter, on your website, and in your marketing materials.
Engage with your guests: Sometimes guests feel forgotten after they check in. Let them know they are valuable to you and your business. Offer a few options for making it easy for your guests to connect with you on their terms. Building a relationship over the course of their stay can make a big impression.
- Have a thank you card waiting for them in their room with a response/feedback card tucked inside the envelope.
- If you offer text messaging, make sure to reach out with a quick text to ask them how things are upon arrival.
- Train your staff to be sincere when interacting with guests throughout their stay. Provide a few simple prompts so they’re not left with an awkward silence. On the other hand, make sure to address the opposite end of the spectrum to avoid guests feeling overwhelmed.
Include an open field for comments: Whether you opt for electronic feedback or a hard-copy form that can be returned via mail, include an open field for feedback. Allow guests to share their experience in their own words. Businesses that don’t include open field text boxes at the end of their surveys are missing the opportunity to hear from their customers. Don’t ask your guests what you want to hear; instead, ask your guests what they want to tell you.
Never underestimate the value of reading the words written by your ideal customers. These types of reviews can go a long way in helping you communicate through your marketing in a way that resonates with your audience.
Use a third-party review site: Having reviews on your site and social media are important, but using sites like Google My Business and Tripadvisor give you broader reach. Many travelers end up conducting a broader search first before narrowing down their final choices. Having a collection of high-quality, honest reviews available can play a huge role in driving a potential guest to book with you.
There are a wide variety of third-party review sites out there, so take some time to research which ones are the best fit for your business. It can be tempting to try to be everywhere, but you’ll be diluting your efforts when you offer guests too many choices.
Listen to Your Reviews and Act Accordingly
Always reply to every review when you have the option (and it doesn’t have to be you - you could assign this task to someone on your team that can speak on behalf of the business). Many businesses only reply to the negative reviews or worse, ignore them. This is a missed opportunity. By taking the time to acknowledge every single review, regardless of the rating, you’re showing potential future guests that you truly care about the experience you provide.
And what if you do receive negative reviews? What next?
If you’re receiving more than a handful of negative feedback, figuring out how to improve hotel reviews might first depend on improving elements of your business. Recognize first that you can’t make everyone happy. Try to determine whether the feedback has real weight and if there’s anything you can do to address it.
For any less-than-stellar reviews, thank the guest in a professional manner. Never be defensive or make excuses. You might find it helpful to draft your reply outside of the review site and step away. Even consider having a trusted employee or friend read it over before you post it. And remember that you don’t need to use social platforms to go into detail regarding how you plan to address their complaint. Instead, you can reserve that information for the professional correspondence between you and the guest.
It’s not enough to collect reviews and post the best ones online. You also need to pay attention to the less-than-stellar reviews that come your way — and respond to them.
Remember - feedback is a gift
Cue the groaning, but it’s helpful to remind yourself of all the good that can come from asking your guests to tell you what they think. In summary, you’ll be able to identify and implement improvements to continue providing a high-quality guest experience, you’ll see more reservations come through as a result of the positive reviews, and you’ll get to share the warm and fuzzy feeling of a job well done with your team.
So, get out there and start requesting reviews today! Need help? We’ve got a free email template to get you started. Just update the text with details for your business and pop it into your Thank You email template. Let your automated emails do some of the work for you!
Don’t have automated emails for your business? We can help with that, too! ThinkReservations offers a wide variety of tools to help you and your staff streamline and simplify operations, so you can save time and increase revenue. Learn more about our all-in-one property management system!
We look forward to helping you discover new ways to grow your business!
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