The Power of Reviews for Travel-Oriented and Other Sites

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I know we all read about how user reviews are crucial to local websites, product-related sites, businesses such as hotels and restaurants — in short, just about any business. Even if customers are not commenting about the quality of your product, they may review your service, which can be just as influential of course. I was reminded of the power of reviews the other day, when I received an email from TripAdvisor, advising me that more than 100 people had viewed a review I recently posted concerning a hotel I stayed in for 5 days in January in Las Vegas.

I’m not going to mention the hotel’s name, but suffice it to say that the review was not totally favorable. In fact, it was mostly unfavorable because a few significant (to me) details were overlooked or non-functional. And although this hotel in general has high ratings and receives good reviews on a regular basis, I just have to wonder what effect my unfavorable review may have had for those 100-plus viewers? If only 10% of them changed their mind about staying at that hotel because of my review, my comments are costly to the hotel. And if more than 10% heeded them and headed elsewhere, the cost only increases in terms of lost revenue, especially if those who saw the review commented on it to their friends.

Despite the fact that this hotel is one of the top-rated in Las Vegas, the oversights I mentioned in my review are only strengthened by its approach to customer complaints. When I attempted to make my thoughts known at the hotel itself, I was handed a comment card to submit via snail mail and told that there was no record of my missed wakeup call (one of the most vital of the missed opportunities for this hotel to make an impression upon me, since it endangered my successfully making my flight home), which was one of my issues.

If a large, five-star hotel in Las Vegas can apparently be ignorant of the existence of email as a form of communication and the power of reactions by unsatisfied customers on online review sites with huge exposure (such as TripAdvisor), it only underlines the necessity that every business, no matter how it serves the public, pay attention to what is being said about them online — through online review sites, their local business listing on the search engines, local bloggers, and any other possible place where people go to find out about products and services. There are a lot of ways to track comments being made about your business online, and you should be making use of all the possibilities.

BTW, I did send in the snail mail comment card upon my return home as well as detailing all my concerns to the front desk prior to checkout. (Some say I should have brought up some concerns on my first day there and changed rooms — perhaps even been given an upgrade — but my concerns were not with the room itself but rather the services provided and the way in which they were provided.) I have yet to hear anything back, but there is a reason it is called “snail” mail, so I remain hopeful. I did, after all, have enough hope that I included my email address on the comment card.

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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3 Comments

  1. We have it in our pipeline, but are a bit reluctant to the idea because it is so easy to make fake reviews unless controlled very strictly by the website owner. As you mention in the article "if more than 10% heeded them and headed elsewhere, the cost only increases in terms of lost revenue". Now say that you did not care much for the hotel owner so for personal reasons you made a bad review of the hotel. It makes the hotel owner very fragile. Now some websites let hotel owners remove the worst reviews, but then the idea falls through obviously. Hmm but we might still go for it...

  2. I know there is risk inherent in allowing users to review your property, but even more risky is not registering your hotel at the free review sites (like TripAdvisor) and other places online that offer the ability for users to post reviews (like Google's Local Business Center). These are free opportunities to get your name out there and reach people who may never have even known you existed, much less had an opinion of your property. Casual visitors to review sites may not even realize that a site allows the owner to remove bad reviews. However, you can also look at bad reviews as an opportunity to address real concerns (assuming they are not the result of a nasty campaign by a disgruntled worker, etc.) -- some sites will arrange for the reviewer and reviewee to connect and if you solve the complaint through that interchange, sometimes the reviewer themselves will re-post about your excellent customer service in response, thereby dulling the effect of their first negative comments. Finally, it's not unknown for competitors and the like to fraudulently "claim" your location at review sites and put up false information that may be way more harmful to you in the long run. All in all, it's a huge subject, but I think you would be wise to investigate further and seriously consider looking at the available travel sites that offer free listings for businesses.

  3. I always look at reviews when booking a hotel. I use trip advisor.