The team at Shiji ReviewPro recently released The Hotelier’s Guide to Booking.com which you can access by following the link. Here we share some of the top takeaways from the guide, but be sure you download the full guide to access all the insight.
Every hotelier knows that reputation is one of the biggest assets a hotel can have. It can serve as the tiebreaker for guests looking to book accommodation. A good reputation decides whether or not a customer will give you the chance to become their favorite brand or property. While previously, reputations were built exclusively on word of mouth, today the internet and online reviews amplify, if not carry that message. Trust is important to consumers when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money, so many of them rely on recommendations to make their bookings. In fact, Booking.com reveals that 95% of travelers read reviews before selecting an accommodation, and over 85% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – they are named the 3rd biggest factor affecting decision-making.
6 Tips To Improve Your Hotel’s Review Scores on Booking.com
Now learn from the experts at Booking.com how to improve your hotel’s review scores and have better visibility:
- Reply: 95% of travelers read reviews, so be sure to reply to them.
- Manage expectations: Always keep your property page updated with your hotel’s latest offering.
- Consider providing breakfast: An important feature for some guests, this can also be the last impression they have of your outlets.
- Deliver great service: Everyone remembers a trip where they were treated well and their expectations were exceeded, so pay attention to the service your staff provides.
- Comfort and cleanliness: Ensure that cleanliness and comfort are up to par, both things that count greatly towards a memorable stay.
- Areas to watch: Positive mentions about these topics appear in 92% of positive reviews: Food & Dining, Location & View, Maintenance, and Staff & Service. On the other hand, these are the top negative mentions on 80% of negative reviews – Amenities, Maintenance, Comfort, and Noise.
According to the 2022 Global Hotel Review Benchmark by Shiji, as presented by Danica Smith of ReviewPro, the volume of global reviews in 2022 is almost 30% lower than in 2019 pre-pandemic. In parallel, average review scores have also been plummeting in all regions of the globe during the same period, with the sharpest decline experienced in North America, down 3.5 points in 2022 from 2019, followed by Europe, down 1.9 points.
The report also shows where these reviews are being posted, and Booking.com holds a clear majority of the market share, accounting for a staggering 42% of all reviews, followed by Google and Tripadvisor with 29% and 12% of the market, respectively.
The Booking.com Review System
Booking.com has recently replaced its old review system of smiley faces and pre-set scores with a new scale for overall satisfaction ranging from 1-10. The old review system relied on 4 possible smiley scores to be awarded in 6 subscore categories which were then averaged out to represent the stay’s final satisfaction score. The new system, however, allows guests to choose their specific intended scores on a scale of 1 to 10 and avoids an upward score bias (a guest choosing a smiley 10 because the next lower smiley score was only 7.5). With the new scale, there are also subscores for different aspects of the stay that can be customized by the hotels, and these are independent of the overall review score, yielding a more detailed analysis of the guest feedback.
The updated review system aims to eliminate anonymous reviews, which increases the trustworthiness factor and plans to make guests pinpoint reasons when they give extreme reviews, allowing hoteliers to address issues that are most pressing and important to their guests. In the pipeline are also improvements that assign more weight to more recent reviews, so that hotels can have an accurate snapshot of the state of their service at present, as well as on-stay reviews that give hoteliers a chance for service recovery in a timely manner.
The Power of Sustainability
Guests are increasingly looking for holiday options that are more meaningful and sustainable, and data from Booking.com’s research shows that 38% of travelers are actively looking for information on a property’s sustainability efforts prior to booking. They also tend to expect that the measures they are used to adopting at home will be available while traveling, with 53% of respondents being more determined to make sustainable choices when traveling compared to a year ago, according to the same research. Out of the 46% of global travelers who stayed in sustainable accommodations at least once last year, 41% of them did so to help reduce their impact on the environment, and 33% cite that it makes their experience more locally relevant.
Booking.com is answering these trends with the availability of different sustainability badges that can be highlighted on a property’s page, as well as enabling an option of a search filter for sustainable properties, in response to 54% of the people who said they want to be able to filter for accommodation options with a sustainable certification when looking for hotels.
Another growing demand is the search for off-the-beaten-track destinations and the effort to reduce the impact of tourism on the planet. Overcrowding is the result of excessive tourism in certain areas, and Booking.com’s data shows that in the last 12 months, 33% of travelers have chosen to travel outside peak seasons, and 27% chose a less popular destination. Some 64% even say they would be willing to avoid popular tourist destinations and attractions to mitigate overcrowding, and 40% are willing to travel exclusively outside of peak season. These trends have also shown up in data from ReviewPro.
Responding to Reviews – Best Practices and APIs
According to the aforementioned Shiji report, globally and across segments, hoteliers have responded to 62% of respondable reviews in 2022 (down from about 80% in 2019), and have done so more promptly for the positive ones, within an average of 4.4 days, while negative reviews take on average 5.6 days to get a response, a habit that deserves some attention.
When responding to reviews, Danica recommends a few best practices, beginning with having the proper workflows and processes determining who responds to both positive and negative reviews, as well as PR crisis mentions. Once that is drawn up, a management response strategy needs to be put in place, with specific (and effective) deadlines for responses, what to prioritize, and set KPIs that will be monitored and addressed. In order to use time efficiently and respond within an acceptable time frame, response templates are a useful tool, as long as they are sentence guides that sound genuine and personalized enough, and allow for modifications specific to each case. One last best practice Danica mentions is a Direct Response Integration, which works by setting up APIs with Google and Booking.com that allow responses from within the ReviewPro tool. In 2019, the average response time to a Booking.com review was 14 days and 22 hours, whereas with the API, in 2021, this fell to 5 days and 1 hour, according to data from the platform.
Review Scores and Visibility
The Booking.com algorithm takes into consideration hundreds of factors such as personalization for each individual booker, with their previous choices and reservations affecting what they are presented with. Review scores also play a part, but aren’t the main criteria for ranking, although many bookers rely on the review score filter to be above 8 when comparing hotels.
It is important to note, however, that a review score won’t improve just from a single touchpoint alone. Hoteliers need to think about their guests’ experience throughout the entire duration of the guest journey, from the researching phase to the pre-stay, to check-in, all the way up to the post-stay. Technology tools can assist in analyzing the journey, and show the areas that can be improved. As an example, a hotel can leverage technology to analyze the FAQs on their own page or on their Booking.com page to reach out to guests with the right information and improve the experience before they even make their purchase decision. Similarly, becoming aware of complaints as they happen during the stay allows time for addressing them.
The sum of experiences at each step of the stay will result in the overall review score, therefore it is imperative that the entire team makes a point of providing excellent service and making guest satisfaction their main goal. Using intelligence tools across all departments, and encouraging the use of guest data – both collected throughout stays and from deliberate tests conducted on new concepts – enable the best decisions by each department manager stemming from listening to what guests really want to be gathered from review tools.