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Hotel Reviews - What to do, and what not to do

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June 12, 2015
Online Reviews
Hayley Calhoon - hayleycalhoon@gmail.com

Online review sites have evolved into a make-or-break platform for almost all customer-driven small businesses. Websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the especially important Google provide review tools that allow customers to gain insight on a business before stepping foot inside the door. The impact of these reviews on the consumer decision-making process has continued to grow exponentially, with 90 percent of consumers claiming that online reviews influence their buying decisions.

In order to exercise some level of control over a brand's online reputation, it is crucial that businesses know how to properly handle the feedback they receive on these review sites. Brands who respond to reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and understanding manner show their willingness to empathize with their customers and their value for feedback. Here are some do’s and don’ts to abide by when deciding how to respond.


Read your reviews. Whether you want them to or not, consumers are going to be writing about your brand on various websites. It is imperative that managers be aware of what is being said about the brand online. One reason is that guests coming into the business will be more sensitive to issues that have recently been posted. For instance, if there was a recent review regarding the Internet being too slow – a business may experience an increase in complaints about the issue as guests are specifically looking to see if their Internet speed is adequate. Being aware of this will allow you to prepare your team to deal with this.

Respond – quickly. Responding in a timely manner can help minimize the potential damage done by a negative review. Remember that responses are not just written for the individual reviewer, but more so for the general public who is considering your business. This is your opportunity to persuade readers that they will not have the negative experience described in the review. Assure readers that action is being taken to correct any shortcomings, and that the situation described is far from the norm. Respond as quickly as possible so that readers don’t draw their own conclusions.

Learn from negative reviews. The best way to prevent more negative reviews from being posted is to eliminate the issue that is leading guests to write the reviews. As you regularly read your online comments, monitor and make note of topics that seem to be coming up more often. If more than half of complaints are stating that the pool is too cold, for example, it may be worth investigating and correcting the problem. After this is done, be sure to publicly post online that the opportunity has been addressed – showing guests that you truly care about their experience.


Respond with emotion or aggression. It is inevitable that some reviews will leave a business feeling attacked, eliciting an emotional and defensive response by the business manager. On average, consumers using review sites will read six or more reviews before making a decision about your business. If a customer is being irrational, the chances are high that others will notice this and mentally discount their review. Also, if the large majority of reviews are positive, readers will be willing to hear your side of the story and realize that this may have been an isolated and uncommon situation. After writing a response to a negative review, have someone else read it to ensure it comes across as a cordial and professional representation of the brand.

Blame others. Even if the complaint is regarding an issue completely outside of your responsibility, resist the urge to blatantly place the blame on someone else – especially the reviewer or other guests. This doesn’t necessarily mean accepting fault; it may just mean apologizing that the reviewer didn’t have a better experience and leaving it at that. Some negative reviews will be unwarranted and unjustified. Falling into the trap of publicly attacking or placing blame on the guest will only further damage your online reputation and make your business appear defensive and unprofessional.

Feel the need to cheat. Resist the urge to offer guests incentives for writing good reviews, which is against the written policies and guidelines of most review sites. Having anyone fabricate positive reviews is also against policies and can result in reputation damage if readers pick up on it. Further, doing either of these things can result in your business being publicly “flagged” as an ethical violator online. The best defense against negative reviews is a variety of real, positive reviews. Speak with happy customers and encourage them to share their experience online to help your business. Follow up with satisfied guests after their visit to your hotel with a phone call or email and personally ask them to share their experience online.

Online reviews can be a useful tool for receiving guest feedback and for conveying a positive image of your business online. Seek out unhappy guests to try and resolve the situation before they post online. If you find that you are constantly dealing with negative reviews, it’s time to take a harder look at the business and determine why guests aren’t satisfied. Follow these guidelines to ensure a better online reputation for your brand and a better experience for guests.

Hayley Calhoon is a social media freelancer with experience managing multiple hotel brands and a multi-unit restaurant chain. She can be reached at hayleycalhoon@gmail.com.


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Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Using Reviews to Keep Its Top Spot in a Hot Market

After opening in 2014, The Four Seasons Resort Orlando earned a spot among the top 10 hotels in the competitive Orlando market as rated on TripAdvisor.com. Maintaining this high position has been a collective effort of the entire resort, said resort manager Ben Shank.

Shank works in conjunction with the property's social media manager to monitor and respond to online reviews within 24 hours to 48 hours. While more than 70 percent of its reviews are posted to TripAdvisor.com, the property also focuses on Expedia.com, Priceline.com, Booking.com and Hotels.com. All departments get involved in analyzing the feedback in order to identify areas that may need improvement.

“We often share the reviews among our management team so they are aware of the positive recognition received,” said Shank. “Also, action is taken if there’s an area of guest services that could be enhanced by learning from a review.”

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando takes each review seriously and believes that, by responding to reviews, guests will realize how much they value their requests. Shank feels that if guests are taking the time to write a review, the property can take the time to respond – even if it’s just posting a simple thank you.
“People are emotionally invested in their vacations,” he said. “Guests are spending their personal time with us, and we want them to feel valued and important. We also want them to come back and stay with us again.”

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