Cut the Copy/Paste Response: Writing Unique Responses to Online Reviews
“Thank you for your feedback and we hope to see you again.” It’s the most commonly used review response in the history of the industry, but is it enough? Travelers and brands alike are expecting more and more from hoteliers when it comes to online review responses. Making review responses more personalized can really pay off for your hotel and your bottom line. Let’s learn how to take those copy/paste, templated review replies and transform them into creative, unique, and professional review responses.
We are going to take a look at 5 real reviews written by travelers and matching them with 5 of the most commonly used copy/paste or templated responses. From there, we are going to be sharing expert tips and adding to that templated response until it is a completely unique, professionally written review response.
Review Example #1
Let’s start with this 5-star review, which we paired popular templated response, “We wish or we hope to see you again soon.”
Tip 1: Use Hospitality Specific Terms
I think this tip is a lost art in our industry and in responding to online reviews for hotels. We are not in the manufacturing industry or the tech industry. No, hoteliers are in the people industry, the hospitality industry. We don’t simply want to see our guests again, we want to serve them again. Use these hospitality-specific terms and keywords to distinguish your hotel from other businesses and products that they might be writing reviews for as well.
Our review response experts with hospitality backgrounds start off this review response by writing, “We wish to serve you again in the future and provide another first-class stay at our hotel. Come back soon. Have a good one!”
Tip 2: Make Good on Promises
Every hotel today should have an unspoken promise to provide a comfortable place to stay and a high level of customer service to each of its guests. If that promise is being met, let travelers know through review response. When guests leave your hotel a 4 or 5-star review online they are letting you know that promise is being kept, it’s important to let other travelers know that promise and the expectations that you have set at your property.
A great example of this can be found in our Travel Media Group’s team response, where they write, “Our team strives to provide a full-value experience for our valued guests. Hence, we are delighted to know that we have delivered this commitment while you were at the property with our top-notch hospitality as the highlight.”
Tip 3: Market Your Hotel’s Strengths
Positive online reviews are so powerful because they really are billboards for your hotel online. A space where travelers are looking, reading, and basing their booking decisions off of. So with that in mind, why not build another online billboard right next to it using review response. Leverage review response to market your hotel’s strengths to other travelers that are still looking to make a booking decision. Include in your response reasons to pick your property versus the property they research next.
Our review response team is incredibly talented at this and knows the importance of further capitalizing on these 5-star reviews. Our team writes, “It sounds like you had a fantastic tour of the city and the nearby attractions because of our unparalleled convenience to the various modes of transportation and proximity.”
Professional Response Example #1
When we combine these three tips and add them to this review response we get a response unique to the hotel industry, showcasing a service promise kept between hotelier and guest, and the opportunity to market our hotel’s strength’s to potential travelers reading it. “We wish to see you again soon” accomplishes none of the above. This illustration is a perfect example of the power of review response.
Review Example #2
The next review is a neutrally-rated, 3-star review which we matched with the infamous “Thank you for your feedback” response.
Tip 1: Acknowledge Issues
“Thank you for your feedback” is the most used phrase in the history of online review response. When it is read by travelers, it sounds like you are talking to a robot operator over the phone. We never want our guests, that have taken the time to leave an online review, to feel like this. Even when addressing negative feedback, our response needs to speak specifically and directly to the content that was written. In a long review like this it could be a multitude of both the good and bad. Be sure that all issues are being acknowledged in your review response, addressing the reviewer’s concerns and giving peace of mind to other travelers reading it.
So instead of just writing “thank you for your feedback” our creative review response teams adds, “Thank you for finding the time to share the details of your recent visit. We apologize for the unwanted noise and issues with the elevator. We will keep your feedback in mind moving forward as we further enhance our guests’ experience and satisfaction.”
Tip 2: Focus On The Good
One mistake hoteliers tend to make when responding to reviews, typically 3 stars and below, is only honing in on the bad. We spend so much time acknowledging and apologizing for what went wrong, we forget about all the parts of their experience that went right. With a neutrally rated review like this one, it is important to really focus on the positives of the traveler’s experience and highlight that in our response. Our review response team strategically positioned the positive segment of the response in front of acknowledging the issues or concerns of the review. This way the reviews reads as an overall positive experience with a couple of minor issues.
With this tip in mind, our review response team writes, “While we are delighted to learn that you found our spacious lobby to be remarkable and our guest service to be accommodating and friendly, it’s unfortunate that the same cannot be said about the other aspects of your time with us.”
Tip 3: Show Confidence In What You Offer
Review response is a great place for hoteliers to show confidence in what their hotel has to offer. Demonstrate to travelers, through review response, what are the expectations when a guest stays at the property and the type of service they can expect. Give other travelers the peace of mind knowing, if the review they are reading does not reflect this expectation being met, the lengths that you are willing to go to make sure it does next time. We are at a point in the industry today, where travelers are willing to overlook a bad or neutral review, but only if that review is responded appropriately.
Copy/pasting, “thank you for your feedback” just does not cut it anymore in the eyes of your brand and more importantly, the eyes of the traveler. So for the final touch of this review response our Travel Media Group team writes, “We hope you give us another chance. We will do our best to deliver the exceptional stay we know we can.”
Professional Response Example #2
Neutral reviews can sometimes be the hardest reviews to respond to. You need to extremely careful and strategic when responding because you do not know what the traveler reading the review and response is focusing on: the good or the bad. Keep these three tips in mind when responding to neutral reviews and leave the phrase “thank you for your feedback” to the bots and automated messaging systems.
Review Example #3
Now let’s take a look at a negative review that we paired with the templated apology, “We are sorry to hear about your experience.”
Tip 1: Apologize/Acknowledge Specific Negative Feedback
Negative reviews need to be handled extremely carefully due to the influential power that reviews have on traveler’s booking decisions. With that in mind, simply apologizing for a traveler’s experience will not be sufficient. Ensure when you are responding to a negative review like this one, you are either apologizing or acknowledging the specific issues that guest encountered during their stay. From there we can start to address how they will be fixed.
So our team starts this response by saying, “Please accept our apologies for any concerns about housekeeping as well as for any disappointment with breakfast and the pool.”
Tip 2: Share An Action Plan
There’s a saying, “Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution.” Travelers don’t want just an apology for their issues, they want to see the actions taken to get them resolved. This is where most hoteliers drop the ball. They do a good job of apologizing for their mistakes, but they never explain how they are going to be fixed. Be sure in your response to include one or two action items per negative sentiment that you plan to implement at the property to ensure this type of guest experience does not happen again.
Our review response experts shares this hotel’s action plan by writing, “Feedback from our guests is valuable as it helps us improve for future visits. + Your comments will be discussed with housekeeping to ensure attentive cleaning is performed in all rooms. Additionally, we are sorry to hear about the lack of towels in the pool area. We always encourage guests to notify us of anything they may need so we have the chance to make it right.”
Tip 3: Always Invite Your Guests Back
This is a tip that we are constantly sharing with our hotel partners and that’s always extending an invitation back to the property for a future stay. Asking for a return visit in response to a negative review shows confidence in your property’s product and service. It demonstrates that you care enough to try to make it right and provide the experience expected at your property.
Our Travel Media Group team wraps up this negative review response by writing, “Please allow us the honor of an opportunity to demonstrate our true quality to you. We would love to provide the experience you deserve.”
Professional Response Example #3
An apologetic phrase, “Like we are sorry to hear about your experience” again just doesn’t cut it with today’s traveler. Our guests today want solutions, not apologies. Don’t let a bad response to a bad review double the amount of damage to your hotel’s reputation online. Use these three tips to formulate a calculated response to your negative reviews online.
Review Example #4
The next review has a perfect 5-star rating and is matched with the response, “Wow, thanks for the review.”
Tip 1: Don’t Act Surprised
We never want to express shock or surprise that we received positive feedback. Positive experiences and reviews at our hotel should be the expectation, not the exception. Convey that sentiment in your review response. However, make certain that that confidence in your hotel and service does not come off as complacency. Make sure your responses express gratitude and enthusiasm. This will hopefully help encourage more travelers to write these type of raving reviews. Another great feature of our review response solution is the ability to adapt to your property’s unique voice. Whether you want a laid back, friendly tone or a professional, business-like response our team works with both independent and branded hotels to match their property’s personality.
So instead of copy/pasting the templated response, our review response experts write, “Thank you for your excellent review. It looks like your experience with us made your weekend trip more memorable, and we could not be happier! We are stoked to earn your recommendation.”
Tip 2: Use Review Response as a Conversion Tool
If you used correctly, you can also leverage review response as an effective conversion tool. In this review, for example, the guest revealed that they would be recommending this hotel for their youth group when they come to town. Do NOT fail to capitalize on opportunities like this when expressed by travelers in online reviews. We know the high cost of guest acquisition in today’s hotel landscape. An opportunity to convert could even be as subtle as the guest mentioning, “that they would recommend this hotel” or “would be willing to visit the property again sometime” You want to let that guest and other travelers know that you welcome return business and would love the opportunity to serve them again at your hotel.
Keeping this tip in mind, our review response experts add, “Know that our entire team would be happy to welcome you and your group back to our hotel.”
Tip 3: Show the Human Component of Your Business
Another reason why copy/paste and templated responses are so ineffective is because it fails to show the human component of your hotel business. All of us in the industry have been in the shoes of a traveler at one point in our lives and we know the stress that traveling sometimes causes. With that in mind, our responses need to be written with gratitude, empathy, and a human element. If not, we fail in demonstrating to travelers that read our hotel’s online reviews that we are more than just four walls and a bed.
In order to show the human component of our hotel in this response our Travel Media Group team concludes by adding, “We hope your next visit is just around the corner, and we wish you safe travels always.”
Professional Response Example #4
Utilize these tips to get the most out of your hotel’s best reviews. Remember, guest conversion can start at any point in the traveler’s journey including review response.
Review Example #5
The last review has a terrible 1-star rating and is paired this review with the copy/paste response, “Please reach out to us.”
Tip 1: Share “Why” You Need Feedback
When asking for additional follow up from a guest it is extremely important to answer the question “why”. So many times we see in review responses hoteliers or business owners asking that customer to please reach out, but fail to give a reason on why that need that additional feedback. Use your review response to share “why” you need that feedback and what you plan to do with it.
Our review response team does a great job of doing that by starting this review by writing, “We would love to learn more about your experience so we can continue to improve on the aspects that matter most to our guests.”
Tip 2: Give Future Traveler’s Peace of Mind
Especially when responding to negative reviews, we want to be aware of the future guests that are going to be reading this review and the hotel’s response. It is just as important to speak to them in your response as it is to the traveler that left you the review. Give future traveler’s peace of mind by sharing genuine concern and attention to issues raised in the review and acknowledge to those future guests how those issues will be resolved.
Our review response team gives future traveler’s peace of mind by writing, “Thank you for joining us during your recent travels. Since we genuinely love to please our valued guests, we appreciate you highlighting areas for improvement. Our team is taking a close look at your feedback to ensure that we are making the positive changes needed.”
Tip 3: Give Travelers A Reason To Come Back
This tip goes hand in hand with inviting guests back to the property for a return visit. This tip works great when you are making physical changes to the property like a renovation or capital improvement. You can also advertise different times of the season, encouraging that guest to visit the property again in the winter or the summer or marketing different events in the area. At the end of the day, we want to include in our review response a reason for travelers to come back and visit the property.
As we conclude this review response our team adds, “We hope that you will consider coming to see us again in the future to witness our various improvements.”
Professional Response Example #5
Using these tips could be the difference between this traveler contacting you at the property or not. This is critical, because the additional information and input they provide to you, could prevent more guests from experiencing the same issues.
Respond & Resolve™
As leaders in the hospitality industry, it is critical that we are serving our guests at every stage of the traveler’s journey. In 2020, review response is now a part of that traveler journey. At Travel Media Group we understand the impact of a uniquely written review response compared to a templated, copy/past reply. Traveler and brand expectations for online review response is only going to grow higher and higher as we enter the new year. That is why our Respond & Resolve solution, which uniquely and creatively responds to all public-facing hotel reviews, is one of our fastest-growing solutions.
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