In the digital age, online reviews can make or break your hotel. With people now using aggregator sites like TripAdvisor and to find accommodation for their next trip, your hotel’s bottom line will be directly affected by the quality and quantity of reviews it has received on these sites.

The good news is there are plenty of simple changes you can make to the way you run your business to drastically improve both the quality and quantity of reviews you receive. Read on for all our top tips if you want to ensure your hotel stands out from the crowd.

Why are hotel reviews important?

The reviews your hotel receives have never been more important, and given our increasing reliance on the internet, they’re only set to become more crucial to your bottom line. With aggregator sites like TripAdvisor being most travellers’ first port of call when it comes to choosing accommodation for their next trip, your visibility on these sites is crucial to your success. This visibility is largely determined by the quantity and quantity of the customer reviews your hotel has received.

To really put into perspective how much the online reviews of your hotel could affect its success, consider that a survey by TripAdvisor revealed that 80% of respondents read 6–12 reviews before booking accommodation. Furthermore, according to a report by BrightLocal, 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations — as long as they seem authentic.

Make guest relations a priority

You should make sure to dedicate as many staff hours as possible to managing guest relations. In the hospitality trade, the little things are the big things, and small problems can spoil a guest’s stay with you if they aren’t handled quickly.

You can almost guarantee that someone who has a poor experience at your hotel is going to leave you a negative review somewhere online. Making guest relations a priority is therefore the first step in turning those negative appraisals into positive ones and critics of your business into your brand ambassadors.

A sure-fire way to improve your customers’ experience of your hotel is to give your staff the authority to deal with issues as they arise. For example, if a member of your team feels that a complementary meal at your restaurant, drink at your bar, or discount on a future stay with you would be an appropriate apology to a disgruntled guest, then they should have the autonomy to do so. The bigger your business and the longer your chain of command, the more necessary this is.

Alternatively, if your staff need to run every decision through management before they can take positive action to rectify a situation, they’ll be unable to do anything to turn a bad situation around, and your hotel’s reviews are likely to directly suffer as a result. It’s therefore important to provide everyone working for your hotel with the training, support and authority to make decisions on their own in the moment.

You should also be aware that some guests won’t be as vocal with their complaints until they get home and leave a review of their experience online. It’s therefore important to regularly check in with your guests to make sure they’re happy with their experience so far. Brief your staff to ask guests how they’re finding their stay whenever they come to the front desk, including when they check out. A genuine apology and an offer of a discount on their next stay with you at this stage is often enough to prevent a negative review of your hotel.

You should also make a habit of keep a close eye on mentions of your hotel on social media, as people will often turn to Twitter or Facebook to voice any complaints they have about the service they’re receiving before they mention anything to your staff.

As a business, you should do everything you can to make sure any problems a guest has are resolved before their stay is over and they write up their review on TripAdvisor.

Utilise the power of free

In his book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely says free is “an emotional hot button — a source of irrational excitement”. In short, people place a disproportionate amount of value in the things they get for free.

Think about how you can utilise the power of free to improve your guests’ experience. Simple things like luxury toiletries and coffee-making facilities in each room can have a huge impact on a customer’s impression of your business. The small things are the big things in hospitality, and these little touches can really set your hotel apart and help lead to great reviews.

In the digital age, you can also make a great impression with your guests by offering free wi-fi. Tech-savvy travellers often choose their hotel based on whether or not they’ll be able to connect to your broadband from the comfort of their hotel room. Make your wi-fi available for free throughout your entire building and it’s sure to be appreciated by your guests, which will no doubt be reflected in your reviews.

Manage your online listings carefully

If a customer books a stay with you through a site like TripAdvisor, they are going to expect their experience at your hotel to match up with the description they found online. It’s therefore crucial that you manage your online listings very carefully, as a customer who feels they were misled by your profile is likely to leave you a negative review.

Registering an account with these sites to make sure the descriptions of your hotel are detailed and accurate. Don’t exaggerate or oversell any of your hotel’s features — this might get more people booked up in the short term, but your reviews of your business will quickly take a turn for the worse when your guests realise they’ve been mis-sold.

Manage expectations to improve your hotel’s reviews

A common cause of negative reviews — and one that is easily avoided — is failing to manage your guests’ expectations. For example, if you know a customer may be affected by noise from roadworks, you should tell them at check-in and do what you can to make up for the disruption — perhaps through a voucher for a free drink at the bar.

Instruct your staff to always be proactive in warning guests about any potential issues that may make their stay with you less than ideal. By simply being honest upfront with your customers, you can manage their expectations, and if it’s clear you’ve done everything you can to help remedy the situation they may still leave a positive review despite the disruption.

If an amenity you normally offer is, for whatever reason, not going to be available over a certain period of time, you should make sure to prominently display that information on all of your online profiles. The reviews of your hotel are sure to be much better if you manage your guests’ expectations rather than disappoint them during their stay.

The alternative is leaving your guests to find out about the disruption on their own — by not telling them about it, it may come across like you were trying to hide it, and your guests’ reviews are sure to reflect this sentiment.

Encourage your guests to leave a review

If you know that most of your guests have a positive experience at your hotel but this isn’t being reflected in your online reviews, then a simple fix might be asking your guests to leave you a review. According to BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey , 70% of consumers will leave a review of a business if asked, so you’re doing your hotel a grave disservice if you aren’t.

Being candid can go a long way here — explain that honest reviews on sites like TripAdvisor really help your business, so you’d appreciate if guests left one if they’d recommend a stay with you to a friend.

While guests may leave with every intention of posting a glowing review of your hotel online, life often gets in the way. It’s therefore a good idea to collect your customers’ email address when they book with you and contact them a few days after their stay asking for an honest review. A big advantage of sending this request through email is that you can include a hyperlink to your TripAdvisor page or Google business listing, making it as easy as possible for people to leave a review.

Alternatively, simply handing guests a tablet during check-out and asking if they’d like to leave you a review can drastically increase the quantity of online reviews for your hotel. Thank anybody who does leave a review and consider offering them a discount on their next stay — a great way to make a repeat customer.

Explicitly asking your guests to leave a review of your hotel is a surprisingly easy way to dramatically increase the quantity of your online reviews. As long as you make guest relations a priority and provide your customers with a service worthy of 5- and 4-star reviews, this can help make your hotel one of the most visible online in your locale.

Respond to all your reviews (even the negative ones)

Once you’ve registered with most review and hotel aggregator sites, you’ll have the option of responding to the reviews people leave you. Whenever someone posts a positive review of your hotel, you should thank them and tell them you hope to see them again.

This only takes a moment, but creates a personal connection that makes it much more likely they’ll stay with you again the next time they’re in the area, as well as recommend you to friends and family. It also gives a great impressive to anyone scrolling through your reviews considering whether to book with you.

The silver lining of even the most negative review is that it gives you a chance to take the feedback on board and remedy the situation. Don’t ignore 1- and 2-star reviews: instead, apologise for the experience and explain the steps you’ve taken to rectify any problems they encountered during their stay with you. Taking the time to respond to even the most negative of reviews in a friendly and reasonable manner can not only change that guest’s opinion of their stay, but also show others that you’re a friendly, customer-focused business.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, if most of your reviews are glowing, the odd negative review can actually help. If your hotel received a hundred 5-star reviews and not a single negative one, potential guests may be suspicious of the authenticity of the reviews and dismiss them all as false, even though they may all be genuine. Receiving an occasional negative review and then showing the guest you’ve taken their feedback on board through a reasonable and friendly reply can therefore be more beneficial for your business.

If you genuinely engage with your guests, respond to their feedback, and thank them for their praise, you’ll create a great impression for potential guests browsing your reviews before they book with you. This could very well be a deciding factor for someone considering a stay at your hotel, and getting this right can be one of the most effective bits of marketing you’ll ever do.

Share the positive reviews…

Your guests love to feel like they’re being heard, and a great way of showing you care about their opinion is by posting the particularly positive reviews on your social media pages. Don’t be afraid to turn your customers into brand ambassadors by sharing positive reviews across your social media accounts and using them as testimonials on your website.

…and use the negative reviews to improve

Do negative reviews of your hotel frequently revolve around common issues? If something comes up time and time again in reviews left by disgruntled guests, then you should use this as feedback to improve the experience for future guests.

Always remember that the guests who are most likely to leave a review of your hotel are the ones who’ve had a particularly positive or negative experience. You should brief your staff to ask each of your guests how they found their stay — if they report a negative experience, they should do everything they can to remedy the situation, as this could turn a negative review into a positive one in minutes. The cost of the offer of a discount on another stay at your hotel in the future can be well worth mitigating the negative review, as your hotel’s continued success depends on its online presence.

Seek out the 3-star reviews

5- or 4-star reviews are of course what you’re aiming for, but they rarely include feedback you can use to improve. Similarly, 1- or 2-star reviews can often be an overreaction on the guest’s part, and you shouldn’t be too concerned if you only receive them occasionally.

The reviews you should seek out are the 3-star ones. These will generally be reasonable and level-headed reviews from guests who enjoyed their stay at your hotel but could see some areas you can improve. You should seek out these 3-star reviews to get to know more about what these customers think, as their feedback is often the most valuable of all.

Study your competitors’ reviews to improve your own

Any successful hotel will have done research into their competition and be aware how they compare in terms of pricing and service. However, very few hoteliers realise how much their competitors’ online reviews can reveal.

Studying the reviews of other local hotels in your price band will not only give you a real insight into their strengths and weaknesses, but also give you an idea of what people are expecting from accommodation when they’re visiting your area. This data can help you deliver exactly what your customers want from a hotel at your price point and find a way to set your hotel apart from the competition.

So, there you have it: everything you need to know to improve the quality of your hotel’s reviews, increase your visibility on the biggest travel websites, and make sure your business thrives in the digital age.

If you have any questions about improving your hotel’s reviews that haven’t been answered in this guide, or you’d like to know how our extensive range of wholesale hotel supplies and restaurant and bar supplies can improve the customer experience at your hotel, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team today.