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Don't write off review sites

27 June 2014 by
Don't write off review sites

Not all review sites are popular with hoteliers, but they must have a place in every hotel's sales and marketing strategy, says Arnold Fewell

Having attended the recent Caterer and Hotelkeeper Digital Summit, what struck me most were some interesting statistics on reviews, and their growing influence.

According to Matt Eames, sales and marketing director at feefo:

â- 49% of respondents won't book a hotel without a review.
â- 31% of diners avoid eating at a restaurant that doesn't have a review.
â- 68% of customers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad comments.
â- 95% of customers would return if an issue was dealt with quickly and efficiently.

This makes a very strong case for reviews, though I accept that not all review sites are popular with hoteliers. There have been many examples highlighted in this magazine where inaccurate or malicious reviews have been posted or threatened in the hope of getting a free meal or stay. The point that really struck home was that client verified customers who review could be a real advantage. They are more trusted and so become a valuable sales tool for hotels.

The statistic that really interested me was that 95% of customers would return if their issue was dealt with quickly. I remember the dreaded blue memos in Trusthouse Forte that showed a bad guest experience, with details of what information was required and who it was to be sent to. It took up so much time, effort and eventually profit that I trained my team to deal with all complaints on site.

I have had cause to complain, like most of us, and it is interesting to note the difference in response. Some hotels fully understand that complaints are valuable feedback, while others think if you ignore them they will go away. Research shows that 46% of business travellers and 40% of leisure customers share their experiences via social media.

So do you know what customers are saying about you and are you responding quickly enough to the issues raised? One thing I do know from my hotel days is that my most loyal customers were often those that had complained at some time and their complaint had been dealt with quickly and efficiently.

It must be much better to retain customers than continually attract new ones. Review sites must have a place in every hotels sales and marketing strategy. They are difficult to embrace but impossible to ignore.

Arnold Fewell is managing director of AVF Marketing and AccessChamp

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