User-generated content has made an indelible impact on the hospitality sector. This couldn’t be more evident than in the way an increasing number of consumers rely on online reviews – posted on sites and apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor – to make travel-related purchase decisions.
In the latest TripAdvisor TripBarometer survey, 90 percent of consumers and 95 percent of businesses believe that reviews and ratings are some of the most important factors in travelers’ purchase decisions. Moreover, 75 percent of businesses (hotels, restaurants, attractions) are placing the management of online reviews at the top of their priority list this year.
The Customer Experience – and Reliance on Online Reviews
A new report by SurveyMonkey reinforces these trends, asserting that it’s more critical than ever for businesses to actively manage their online presence on all relevant review sites. Based on a survey of respondents aged 18 years and older, SurveyMonkey’s “2015 Hospitality Consumer Report” finds that consumers today check an average of 4 websites before making a booking. Also, 78 percent say they read and check out online reviews at least half the time before making a reservation or visiting a local business. (Download the full report here.)
According to the report, the most trusted review sites are TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google+ / Google+ Local. This means that businesses must continue to build out their presence on these sites, as well as invest a bigger share of marketing resources to attract potential new customers. In fact, the report indicates that more than 33 percent of consumers say discounts and special offers on review sites make them more likely to visit a hotel, restaurant, or attraction.
Other highlights of the study focus on the customer experience – and the ways that businesses and brands can build trust and goodwill among consumers, as well as foster guest satisfaction and loyalty.
3 of 4 businesses say they put customers first. But customers don’t necessarily agree. In fact, according to SurveyMonkey’s findings, only half of respondents agree with the statement, “Most establishments have their guests’ best interests in mind, even if it means less profits.”
Build your presence on online reviews. Of course, having a website and claiming social media profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter are essential for businesses. But approximately 6 out of 10 consumers also happen to think that it’s extremely important for a business to have presence on online review sites. Why? Simple: because consumers today value feedback systems that allow them to share their experiences and engage with a business.
“Make it easy for all of your guests to provide feedback so you get a comprehensive understanding of how you’re performing,” reads the SurveyMonkey report. “You need the full range of feedback, not just the most positive and negative reviews.”
Consumers are generally nice. According to SurveyMonkey’s data, 47 percent leave mostly positive reviews, and 48 percent post about half positive and half negative reviews. Only 5 percent say that they leave mostly negative reviews. As hard as this could be to believe for some business owners, customers are generally nice! So don’t focus exclusively on the negative: take the time to thank happy customers who leave their feedback, too.
Managing your online presence? Bolster your efforts by keeping an eye on online review sites, too. If you have any questions about how to more effectively manage online reviews and build your business reputation, give us a call and we’ll show you how to get started. You can also request a demo of ReviewTrackers and enjoy exclusive access to our award-winning review and reputation management solution.