How to Respond to Guest Reviews: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

by | May 3, 2021

As more and more travelers pack up and plan trips, hotels will see a proportional rise in guest reviews. This can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking for hoteliers – you’ll want to respond quickly, but if the feedback isn’t quite what you were expecting, tensions may rise, and you’ll be all the more likely to make common mistakes when responding to reviews online.

Being familiar with these mistakes will help you keep a cool head and write more effective review responses.

Getting Defensive

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As a hotel manager, it’s understandable that negative reviews will contain content that you may take personally. You and the reviewer may not perceive the resulting response as defensive or combative, but it’s important to remember: your audience for your response is not just the person who left the review. Countless future guests and travelers will be reading your review’s responses to get a clearer idea of your hotel experience. Travelers are less likely to book a room if the reviews are unhelpful or unyielding in tone.

It may be your initial reaction to defend your hotel and policies, but remember it’s best to keep a cool head. If there has been a misunderstanding between you and the guest, doing your best to calmly explain what occurred with a promise to follow up privately is often a great place to start.

Writing Generic, Repetitive Responses

Having a “go-to” response can feel great: you can sign in to your review site, copy and paste your response, and sign out, getting back to your regular day-to-day. However, this can be a detriment to your hotel’s reputation in the long term. Remember, one of the purposes of responding to reviews is to attract future travelers. Repeated, generic review responses may give off the impression that the hotel is passive about what guests have to say.

In addition to this, many review sites don’t publish responses where they detect duplicate review response content. Time that you thought you were saving is now time that’s been wasted with no payoff. The only way to rectify this is to individually craft and review each response by hand – which may add an immense amount of work to an already full plate. Finding a trusted response partner will not only save you time, but payoff with unique responses to your guests.

Incorrect OTA Site Etiquette

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Some hoteliers may not even realize they’re going against specific guidelines for posting to each review site. However, there can be a number of rules on different OTA websites that will prevent your review response from being posted. 

Here are a few things you can’t do on OTA review responses:

  • Asking a guest to contact the hotel directly to discuss an issue
  • Recommending that the guest book directly with the hotel on their next stay
  • Including contact information like phone numbers and email addresses
  • Mentioning that certain information is available on their website

If a review is posted that contains any of the language not allowed on an OTA website, the response will be rejected and never published. As a result, hoteliers miss the opportunity to address any issues or feedback that was brought up in the specific review. 

Including The Hotel Name In Negative Review Responses

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While including your hotel’s name has been shown to increase your property’s SEO and searchability on Google and other sites, if the hotel name is associated with primarily negative reviews, it may be detrimental to the property’s online reputation. It’s one thing for guests to be able to easily find information about your hotel, but all press is not necessarily good press.

Understanding that your hotel name should not be mentioned in response to negative reviews is the best way to remedy this mishap. However, if you have already written review responses that list your hotel’s name, it can be increasingly difficult to make changes depending on where the response was published.

A Simple Solution for Responding to Reviews

For a hotel owner or manager trying to juggle review responses with day-to-day operations and responsibilities, keeping track of all these different (and changing) rules can be exhausting and time-consuming. That’s why Travel Media Group offers the Respond & Resolve™ program to hoteliers, where our group of expert response analysts efficiently handle your hotel’s reviews. Our team understands the rules of each OTA website, knows what language works best, and individually crafts responses that feel personal and maintain your hotel’s unique voice. Plus, you can approve and edit responses before they’re published. 

You’ll never have to worry about responding to another review – our team is here to support you and manage your reputation so you can focus on what matters at the property. For more information about our Respond & Resolve™ program, please visit our solution page.