5 tips for responding to guest reviews in Booking.com

03.12.2019 Szymon Cyrzyk, Hospitality Market Researcher
You will read this article in 7 minutes.

Responding to guest reviews in Booking.com is one of the most important activities related to maintaining your hotel reputation. In the previous article we explained how the average property rating is calculated.

Calculating the average rating in Booking.com >>>

Today we will discuss how to respond to guest reviews in the most favourable way for hotel. Dealing with unpleasant comments included. We will also check what is the Booking.com’s policy on guest opinions. I will try to compress this knowledge into 5 basic tips.

Respond to guest reviews - it's the key to building your hotel reputation
Respond to guest reviews – it’s the key to building your hotel reputation

Why is it important to respond to guest reviews?

Responding to guest comments is so important that it often lies in the hands of hotel managers. We have already mentioned how positive reviews can increase conversion (by conversion we mean the number of people who decide to make a reservation after entering your website). Conversion translates into the position your property gets in the search results.

To decide whether your property is successful or not (apart from checking the financial results, of course), I cannot imagine another, more measurable indicator than the online reviews of your former guests. Think how often you considered other people’s opinions as a final deciding factor?

Sheep's shoot effect
Sheep’s shoot effect 🙂

Which reviews are worth replying to?

The short answer is: you should reply to every opinion possible. Booking.com lets you respond to those guests who decided to leave a comment. Those comments must be approved by the portal first.

Can you reply to guest comments? >>>

I realize that some readers are already familiar with these factors. It is worth noting, however, that many facilities still hesitate to establish a dialogue with their guests. Such an “abandoned” sales channel misses the crucial points of the sales strategy, such as building trust and individual approach to guests.

Booking.com also offers an additional service for properties whose average rating for the last quarter is more than 8. What happens if you meet the requirements? You gain access to an exclusive program in which you will discover the exact preferences of your guests. It’s no secret that the one who has access to the best information wins! Take advantage of this program and adapt your offer to the expectations of Booking.com users, increasing the conversion even further.

Discover the details of the Guest Insights program >>>

Discuss the reviews with your Team

Positive reviews depend on the skilful cooperation of individual departments. Responding to guest reviews and complaints quickly is the key here.

At this point, I want to emphasize the role of managers in creating a positive image – not only in the online environment but also within their Team. A good manager doesn’t only put out the fire. His superior role is to analyze critical points where a problem may arise and develop an effective counter strategy.

Team training, integration, positive atmosphere and emphasis on teamwork build a sense of unity among employees and make your joint success the motivation. Make sure that the source of this motivation comes from desire to receive a positive review, rather than from fear of getting the negative one.

Team has a huge impact on your brand's success
Team has a huge impact on your brand’s success

Many years of travel and work experience opened my eyes to one fact. If something goes wrong, the customer service is the one to test the guest’s patience first. Tactful and positive staff can overcome (almost) every crisis, A team that lacks commitment to their duties can be identified almost immediately after the check-in.

How to respond to guest reviews which are complaints?

There are many reasons for customer dissatisfaction. Each of them requires a different approach. Before you respond to guest reviews, the following list of questions may be helpful in analyzing negative comments:

  • What is your guest actually complaining about?
  • Which team member can explain the situation in detail?
  • Are customer’s emotions adequate to the problem?
  • Will there be any negative impact if you decide to discuss the case with your guest further?
  • Is there a chance to resolve the situation peacefully?
  • Is the guest’s complaint constructive and logical?
Responding to guest reviews requires calm and tact
Responding to guest reviews requires calm and tact

When you respond to negative guest reviews, keep yourself collected. A professional approach is the key to success here. Use a calm tone of speech and ensure a dissatisfied guest you are aware of a mistake. Even if you fail to convince him to change his position, it will still have a soothing effect on your image among other Booking.com users.

Responding to guest claims shouldn’t always end with thoughtless claims and apologies. If you are certain the guest simply misunderstood the offer or regulations, boldly refer to their individual points in your reply.

Even in such case you should still express regret for guest’s dissatisfaction. Say it openly that potential problems were not hidden in any way. Verify that problematic issues are clearly marked in the offer. If similar cases occur more often, consider changing the regulations or providing information in a more accessible form.

Ask for deleting mistaken opinions

Guest reviews in Booking.com are important not only from the perspective of your property profile, but also the portal itself. The online aspect of this business means that user opinions are the only way to estimate the quality of your services. They not only increase your credibility, but also build trust in the Booking.com environment.

For the sake of maintaining good relationship with its users, Booking.com only removes reviews that explicitly violate the criteria.

When can you request a review to be removed from Booking.com? >>>

Ratings and opinions that do not violate the regulations will be displayed for the next 24 months. You may try to alleviate the situation if you are convinced they were published unfairly or mistakenly.

The cases of guests posting negative reviews due to overbooking or a no-show are unfortunately quite common. It causes fear among hoteliers related to publishing an offer in Booking.com. In such events, the portal is fair and examines each case individually.

If the anxiety from getting overbookings stops you from publishing your offer in the Booking.com portal, there are ways to overcome it. You can use the channel manager system or consider synchronizing your hotel program directly with Booking.com.

Read more about KWHotel synchronization with booking portals >>>

What should you do with negative comments which haven’t been deleted by Booking.com?

Even if the client has not violated the guidelines given by the portal, hoteliers still have the opportunity to transform negative comments into positive ones. When logged into the Booking.com extranet, you can reach your guest personally and try to explain the situation. This process is one hundred percent legal. However, it requires a tactful approach.

When contacting the guest, try to calmly explain the situation. Offer redress or explain that you will try to ensure that such situations never happen again. If you manage to reach any compromise, do not be afraid to suggest your guest to change or remove the previously published negative opinion.

Warning! Under no circumstances should you inform your guest that changing / removing an opinion is obligatory to receive a redress. Such action is contrary to the ethics and principles of Booking.com.

Such compromise, together with a public statement about the actions we have decided to implement to overcome the temporary crisis, may prove to be an image success. You will show other guests that their opinion is important to you and that you treat each guest with respect – even those whose expectations have not been 100% met.

Good communication and seeking agreement brings great results
Good communication and seeking agreement brings great results 🙂

How to respond to guest reviews – summary

  • Respond to every opinion you can answer, thank for the positive ones, explain the negative ones.
  • Do not forget about your staff they are your business card and you play to one goal!
  • Analyze problems, explain situations and do not be afraid to speak openly about your beliefs.
  • Verify if negative reviews are not exaggerated. Ask Booking.com to remove those that violate the rules.
  • Try to work out a compromise in private correspondence and suggest that the guest can change his review.

Benefits from listing your offer in Booking.com are huge and it is worth taking care of satisfied users who use its services. Negative opinions cannot be avoided and not always can be changed. However, it is always worth trying to modify your guest’s opinion anyway.

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