Thursday, 27 September 2012

Misunderstanding the behaviour of potential guests?

Best Western in the US have embarked on a ‘brave’ venture. They have embedded TripAdvisor reviews on their hotels’ websites:

The first review for the first Best Western we searched for - click to read
 This is from their press release:

“Now our guests can read TripAdvisor traveler reviews without leaving our site, which not only saves time but also helps each guest choose the right Best Western hotel for their needs.”

We speak to hundreds of hoteliers every year, in private and in depth. We also analyse all our clients’ rankings on sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com. So what have we learned?

1.     That hotels are vulnerable to negative reviews

For two reasons: first because that single negative will impact their ranking – it may not be read (we hear a lot of comments like “They can read between the lines”) - but that ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ rating will drive that hotel down the rankings against their competitors.

Second: a single ‘poor’ or terrible shown on page 1 will directly impact bookings. We have anecdotal evidence from hotels that this can be by as much as 15-20% while the review in question remains on page 1.

2.     That rankings on TripAdvisor and scores on Booking.com matter

If we had a penny for the number of times we have heard travellers say “I will only book a hotel in the top 10.” (top 5, top 20 etc.). On Booking.com: “I will only book a hotel with a score of 8.5 or better.”

So: is it a good idea to show reviews (or even link to reviews) from an external site?

The key to the answer is ‘control’. You cannot control which reviews will be shown. On the face of it this sounds like a case of ‘honesty being the best policy’. In reality the hotel runs the risk of actively discouraging bookings.

There is another way!

You were expecting this:

Dialogue gives you all the positive benefits of the TripAdvisor embedded review system – and credibility (and bear in mind that our reviews are verified) – without the risk of exposing unmoderated negatives.

Control your reputation – get Dialogue!

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