455 Million! Now that’s a big number, huge in fact. But what does it represent? I suppose I could go down the ‘metaphorical road’ and tell you all it represents ‘opportunity’ or ‘missed opportunity’ for that matter. In fact, that would actually fit the purpose of this article quite nicely. But that’s not really my thing. I’ll leave that to The Russian and The Weasel, both self-anointed art critics who enjoy theorising about the use of abstract imagery in modern day surrealism (p.s. before the art lovers out there prepare a dossier on everything factually incorrect with that statement, no need, my art knowledge is about as sophisticated as Homer Simpson, so I simply googled ‘art terms’ and put them into one jumbled sentence!).
But I digress. Back to 455 million. Now as a self-professed ‘sports tragic’, it surprised me that is actually the number of rounds of golf played in America each year. Can you believe it? 455 million rounds each year! That’s a lot of profanities, broken windscreens and psychological torment (all you amateur golfers out there will know what I mean). But that aside, it’s also the average number of monthly unique visitors to the TripAdvisor platform. That’s 455 million people potentially looking for information on your hotel each month. If that hasn’t got you saying “well I’ll be a monkey’s bare-assed uncle”, this might. 93% of your customers are influenced by online reviews when choosing a hotel. It doesn’t take Stephan Hawking to see how crucial customer reviews have become to the hospitality industry.
You see, travellers (especially millennial travellers) now trust the reviews of fellow travellers over your traditional ‘business communications’. You know the ones I’m talking about. The brochure with supermodel A sitting next to supermodel B, enjoying all the comforts of the presidential suit. Or the website with supermodel C dinning with supermodel D at your signature restaurant. ‘No way’ I can hear you thinking, how can people trust a complete stranger’s opinion over our carefully crafted (and expensive) marketing material? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those pictures as much as the next person (in a completely non-creepy way of course, and they do have their place). It’s just they don’t have anywhere near the same impact on potential bookings as a review by Mr Chris P. Bacon from Melbourne , or Ms Jolly Mangina from Ramsey County (I know I know, but simply rehashing stats is boring, and these are actually real names). The reality is 53% of customers won’t book a hotel if it doesn’t haver online reviews. And 67% of customers won’t make a room booking if they have read over 3 negative reviews. So it’s not simply about getting reviews, it’s about converting happy customers into quality reviews, and preventing mistakes (we all make mistakes) from becoming negative reviews.
Which brings me to my final point. What do The Maison Souquet, Hotel 141 and Hotel 41 all have in common? If we were playing Jeopardy this is where I’d buzz in and say “hotels you’ve never heard of”. And for the vast majority of people, I’d be right. But don’t be too dismissive, because these are the #1 ranked hotels on Trip Advisor in Paris, New York and London respectively, which means they are getting 56% more direct bookings every month than properties ranked outside the top 40 in those cities. Further to this, to be # 1, you must have a strong bubble rating, and a 1 point reputation increase (on a 5 point scale), can result in a hotels ability to increase room rates by 11.2%. Now, if you’re the Plaza in Ney York (currently ranked #90 on TripAdvisor), this may not apply to you. I mean, you’re The Plaza right, and who doesn’t know and want to stay there. But for almost everyone else, higher rankings mean more bookings at a higher rate, and we all know what that will do to revenue (here’s a hint: think of a space launch!). I’m sure you get the picture
So the take away message is capitalize on those ‘Wow moments’. Follow up and get the awesome review you deserve. And WHEN mistakes are made, make sure you recover the situation, because a negative review will be more harmful than a positive review will be helpful.
If you don’t know how, or don’t feel you have quite nailed the art of online review management, maybe jump online and have a look at SabaChat, our hotel specific solution for maximizing your online review profile and growing revenue. Or even you drop us a quick email, we’d be happy to have a chat to you about strategies to help improve your online reputation.
I hope I have made an article on stats at least half tolerable (I promise there is method to the madness). But understanding the importance of online reviews is crucial for your properties success now and in the future.