A few years ago, the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research published a study showing the connection between the Global Review Index – an online review quality score – and RevPAR, occupancy and ADR. Recently, Matt Carrier shared research conducted by Cornell professor Cathy Enz on the relationship between online review scores and Net RevPAR, confirming and expanding this link:
“Happier guests not only translate to more revenue, but that revenue flows through to the bottom line and isn’t consumed by customer acquisition costs.”
While the notion of happy guests being good for business isn’t very controversial, quantifying the impact of reputation on revenue through studies like these has made online reputation management a key part in hotel ecommerce and revenue management today.
Creating demand through reputation
Online reviews differentiate your hotels in the eyes of consumers, with the corresponding financial results.
In a world with possible economic uncertainty on the horizon, focusing on improving reputation will not only boost pricing power and demand now, but also help you protect rates in the event of any future downturn. Let’s look at a few tactical ways you can use online review data as part of your revenue strategy.
1. Evaluate reputation across the web
Begin with understanding where your hotels are performing with some analysis:
- Overall rating across all OTAs and review sites
- How those ratings have changed over time
- Where your competitors are positioned on each site
In the example above, the hotel has moved down two spots versus its comp set on a significant distribution channel. Your potential guests are using these ratings as they shop these sites to select between your hotel and your competitors. It’s important to see what they’re seeing — and to understand where to focus efforts to improve.
2. Better understand key segments
Customer segmentation is foundational to revenue strategy, and online review analysis provides insight into segments such as trip type and country of origin to help you understand your happiest guests — those most likely to convert to bookings.
The example hotel above has a range in satisfaction among visitors from various countries: French and Saudi guests are about 10 points behind UK in satisfaction. On the other hand, visitors from Brazil and Argentina are the most satisfied with what this hotel offers, potentially showing an opportunity in those markets.
Online reviews can also enable competitive benchmarking in these areas to help you further understand the opportunity that exists.
3. Analyze and improve responsiveness
TripAdvisor commissioned a study that found that 68% of consumers today will book a review with a hotel that responds to guests online over one that doesn’t. Responding to guests is about guest service — but it also really impacts revenue performance. A negative review sitting up on one of your most important distribution channels can scare away a lot of potential guests.
If someone posts negative feedback, your teams need to respond quickly, address what went wrong and assure everyone seeing this that’s not going to happen when they stay at your property.
4. Focus on review collection
Many review sites give more visibility to hotels with a lot of reviews, so encouraging review volume is a key thing for ecommerce and distribution managers to think about. Additionally, if you’re struggling with a negative reputation from the past, you want to collect new reviews now that you’ve fixed whatever was causing those negative reviews.
One tactic to achieve this is adding review collection tools to your guest surveys. TripAdvisor and Google partner with companies like ReviewPro to allow guests to post their survey rating on those sites.
I’ve seen hotels accelerate their online review volume with this tactic and encourage you to look into adding it to your surveys.
5. Use reviews to boost conversion rates
Consumers trust other consumers more than any other information source, so providing verified reviews can boost your conversion rates. Provide guests all the information they need to make a booking with you, so they don’t have to leave to find this information elsewhere. In the example below, we can see how Jurys Inn is providing multiple sources of guest feedback:
Ascott does this with ReviewPro’s Guest Rating Score widget that pulls in ratings from dozens of websites that verify their reviews with a reservation:
While these steps are just starting points, analyzing, improving and showcasing your hotels’ reputation can build a competitive advantage and help you reach your financial goals.
All illustrations courtesy of ReviewPro.com