By now, everyone has probably heard these numbers or something similar: Social media directly influences 83% of all online bookings, and 50% of guests won't book a hotel room without first reading at least one review. Those numbers came from Ben Jost, CEO and co-founder of TrustYou, but he also offered two other nuggets of research from his online reputation management company that really opened my eyes: In general, 80% of all reviews are positive, and the higher sentiment your property earns from review sites (like TripAdvisor and the rest of the world wide web), the more bookings you get and at better rates.
So his point — which seems quite obvious, but one I never really thought of — is GET MORE REVIEWS. If you're not already doing everything you can to manage your online reputation, and increase reviews, why not? We've all heard the reasons, which can range from being scared of negative reviews, or worse, fake reviews.
But Jost's point is this: If you've only got five reviews and one is fake or horribly critical, that can look pretty bad. If you've got 50 reviews and 40 are positive, that looks a lot better. And if we know more reviews equate to more positive reviews, the ratio of good to bad should improve on top of that.
“If people are booking by reviews — and that's a fact — the only strategy can be, â€˜If you can't beat them, join them,' says Jost. “What can you do to really leverage reviews for your benefit and how do you collect more?”
Jost takes it a step further and suggests online ratings and reviews can and eventually will replace the more traditional guest satisfaction survey, which makes sense. He says those surveys are really reviews, so why not call them that, and have hotels collect them and push them out (good and bad) to review sites like TripAdvisor. (It's a topic we discussed further, so check out the story of the day next Friday at LHonline.com for more on this).