A study of the Tripadvisor travel platform in collaboration with Ipsos MORI shows that „86% of respondents agree that ratings give them more confidence in their booking decision“. Travelers cite helpful ratings (70%), content accuracy (62%) and the wide range of travel content (62%) as the main reasons for their decision to book via this platform. (Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/online-reviews-remain-a-trusted-source-of-information-when-booking-trips-reveals-new-research-300885097.html)
The crux of these ratings is that they are created only after the travelers have finished their stay or trip. Although 95 percent of the ratings are positive, the 5 percent of poor ratings are of course more significant. Especially because hotel managers and employees cannot change the situation after the departure of an unsatisfied guest. However, the study also shows how important online reviews are and what influence they have on travelers‘ booking behavior.
With digital tools and service automation it is very easy to inspire guests these days. Hoteliers can already react to praise and criticism of their guests, while they are still at the hotel.
This article answers the following questions:
- Why online evaluations are so important
- How hoteliers handle ratings correctly
- How hoteliers can take advantage of the social proof and thus influence the buying behavior of their guests
- How service automation helps to increase guest satisfaction and how it impacts hotel reputation
The significance of online reviews for the hospitality industry and why reviews are so important
People buy from people, it’s in our nature. Therefore, it is not surprising and is confirmed by the above study that people trust the opinions of other people more than the marketing text on a hotel website. 81 percent of travelers read an evaluation before deciding on an accommodation. This demonstrates the importance that can be attributed to hotel ratings and why it is imperative that hoteliers proactively seeks feedback from theirguests.
It is very beautiful and nostalgic when a guestbook is displayed in the lobby, perhaps with a golden cover. However, these ratings are only seen by guests who are already in the hotel. However, 96 percent of the customer journey starts online and the potential guests usually come to the hotel website via Google.
Google also displays ratings – and companies can actively claim these google-ratings from their guests by sending them a link with the polite request for an individual assessment. In addition, various tools can be used to map these online reviews on the hotel website in order to strengthen the guest’s confidence in the hotel.
In addition, a trustyou consumer survey found that guests are 3.6 times more likely to rate a stay, when actively requested by an accommodation. (Source: https://www.trustyou.com/resources/verbraucherstudie-online-feedback-management)
It is clear that ratings contribute to the reputation of a hotel and show other interested parties whether a stay is worthwhile or not. They strengthen – or weaken – the external perception and influence the image of a hotel and its brand. Hoteliers need to be aware of the importance of online reviews and develop a long-term strategy on how to catch unsatisfied guests in the hotel in order to prevent bad online reviews after the guest has left.
Online travel agencies such as HRS and Booking use the social proof and thus influence the booking behavior of the guests. With „already booked 26 times“, „our last rooms“ or „11 people are just looking at this hotel“, the booking plattforms very successfully use the phenomenon of scarcity and social proof to push their users to book their rooms right away. The effect on the purchase decision can be described as follows: „If so many rooms have already been booked, then the hotel must be good“ or „I have to book quickly, otherwise the room is gone“.
The mentioned online travel agencies but also platforms like Tripadvisor, Holidaycheck or Trivago work with ratings. The number of ratings and the score achieved is usually shown in stars, both prominently placed at the top of the website in order to be seen by the site visitors right away. In addition to the price – evaluations are an important criterion for the purchase decision of the user. The importance of ratings is underlined by another study conducted by Holidaycheck in 2019. The study states that „92 percent [of travelers] read online reviews at least 3 times a year, 46 percent of them several times a month“. In addition, „online reviews enjoy great trust: 50% trust them as much as family and friends“. (Source: https://www.holidaycheckgroup.com/news/die-psychologie-des-bewertens-studie-zum-thema-online-bewertungen/)
Excursus: Especially at the last point it becomes clear why influencer marketing is so successful. Fans and followers build a social bond to their idol or role model and the influencer gains credibility. This is why recommendations from influencers reach the public and affect their buying behavior.
Happy and satisfied guests through direct feedback and immediate problem solving
As already described in the previous article3 Perspektiven für Service Automation in der Hotellerie, „digital readiness“ prevails today.
This also applies to online evaluations. A guest will no longer have to bother with a registration procedure with login to give a rating or laboriously click through a 10-page survey.
Keep it simple! should be the motto of hoteliers.
Airports follow that motto particularly well as they carry out their passenger satisfaction surveys very simple. They use three simple buttons with different smiley faces on in order to collect customer feedback. The passengers can give their ratings in passing in just a few seconds. Although the rating is kept highly simple taking into account just one parameter, representative assessments are made, due to the large number of passengers who use the terminals on a daily basis.
Another example for the collection of user-friendly guest feedback is Expedia. Guests who have booked via Expedia will be asked for an evaluation by the platform itself during their stay! The hotelier is informed about this via the extranet or the Expedia app and can react accordingly. But just like the sale of hotel rooms, guest feedback especially negative guest feedback should mainly remain in-house. But how can the hotelier ask for feedback in a simple and non-intrusive way?
Service Automation can be a great help here as hoteliers and hotel employees can react directly to an evaluation of a guest while her or she is still in the hotel.
An example: The service robot JEEVES supports the hotel by taking over deliveries directly to the guest’s room door. After successful delivery, he contacts the guest directly and asks if he would like to give feedback on his stay. The hotel guest can rate different things using the JEEVES touchpad:
- Cleanliness of the room
- sleep quality
- Friendliness of employees
- room furnishing
Of course the feedback is transmitted to the hotel staff in real time. Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, hoteliers and hotel employees – for example the Guest Relation Manager – can react directly and turn an unsatisfied guest into a happy guest. Of course, this applies not only to critical feedback, but also to praise for which the hotel manager can show gratitude.
Not only the question of direct feedback inspires hotel guests. Especially in view of the direct demand of valuation and booking portals for feedback, Service Automation is gaining. The interaction with an innovative and new product, which has not yet existed in this form, leaves a lasting impression and inspires hotel guests.