Guest reviews are a hugely valuable way to improve your booking rate, with research showing that 61% of internet users seek out reviews before parting with their cash online, while as many as 63% say they are more likely to buy from a website that features reviews.
Frustratingly though, most guests don’t take the time to leave reviews off their own back, which means it’s up to you to drive them - without coming across as pushy or desperate.
Here are 9 tips to help you encourage reviews on your hotel’s site...
1. Ask them!
This might seem obvious, but you need to ensure you’re prompting guests for their feedback whenever and wherever possible. Of course, you shouldn’t flood your website with Call To Actions pleading for reviews, but think about the places where it would seem natural to ask and make sure you are constantly making your guests aware that their feedback is valuable to you.
2. Keep it simple
As you know, most guests are lazy about leaving reviews, so any amount of form filling is simply going to put them off. Make it easy for guests to leave their thoughts by simplifying the process as much as possible – the less steps it takes for them to leave their feedback the better.
3. Make the reviews visible
All the research shows that reviews are an essential way to drive bookings, but no one is going to leave feedback if they don’t know they can, so it’s important to put your links to reviews somewhere prominent on the page where they can’t be missed.
4. Drive reviews by email
The best time to ask for a guest review is fairly quickly after their stay, when the memories of their break are still fresh in their minds and they are most likely to want to share their opinions.
Send out an email around a week to 10 days after the guest’s stay has ended, to say that you hope they enjoyed their break and ask them to leave feedback. If they had a positive experience it’s likely that they’ll want to tell others how great their stay was, and if they had a negative experience they might want to warn others to stay away.
Which leads us nicely to the next tip...
5. Publish both good and bad feedback
It’s natural to want to filter out the less favourable reviews from your site, but the truth is, people expect to see a range of opinions and may question the authenticity of page after page of glowing feedback. So although it may be painful, it’s important to include both negative and positive reviews on your site. This not only reassures guests that the reviews are genuine, but also encourages them to leave their feedback by showing them no censorship is going on.
6. Incentivise Reviews
Although it’s probably unwise to promise a discount as a reward to everyone who leaves you feedback, there are several ways of giving guests an incentive to leave you a review. For instance, you could enter all the guests that leave you a review into a monthly prize draw, or you could gamify the process by rewarding frequent reviews with “Top Commenter” status.
7. Use reviews to provide a more personalised user-experience
Amazon uses its customer’s reviews to provide online shoppers with more relevant product recommendations. This is a great idea not only because it encourages customers to leave further reviews, but also because it helps create a more personalised and enjoyable shopping experience, which in turn improves loyalty and encourages more reviews.
8. Ask your followers and fans
Put your online community of Facebook fans and Twitter followers to good use by asking them for feedback.
Once again you’ll need to make the process as straight forward as possible. Simply post a link to the review page asking them for their thoughts on your hotel or whether they would recommend you to a friend.
9. Turn every piece of feedback into a review
Chances are that you regularly receive positive feedback outside of online reviews – by email, social media or even on the phone. There’s no reason why this feedback shouldn’t be used as a testimonial for your hotel, so simply ask the guest if they are happy to be named or include the feedback anonymously on your site.
Are you doing everything you can to drive guest reviews? Do you have any other ideas to drive guest reviews?