The tremendous influences of online users’ reviews on hotels
In the hospitality industry, the guests play a crucial role in enhancing the reputation of the amenities, such as hotels or restaurants. With access to the Internet, users usually engage in writing reviews to reflect on their experiences. However, hospitality managers no longer control distributed information or photos on social media platforms. So what are their impacts on the hospitality sector in general and hotels in particular?
Online review websites in guest decision making process
Users are no longer unfamiliar with review sites from online travel agencies such as TripAdvisor or Booking.com. To further explain online reviewers and how the influence exerts on hotels, guests might be influenced by electronic word-of-mouth (also known as eWOM). According to research, hospitality is most affected by e-WOM, and there are several platforms where reviewers exchange their opinions and tourist services (Ladhari & Michaud, 2015). The research by Fernandes (2017) indicated that the dissemination of e-WOM communication was bolstered by the proliferation of several online applications, including web-based opinion platforms, chat rooms, blogs, news groups.
The impact of such websites is that they are focusing on the customers’ voice. Vacationers would rely on the reviews rather than the promotional campaigns where companies are trying to advertise on social media platforms. In addition, the reviews can accurately reflect previous customers’ experiences and give others insight into the trip. These reviews are also a significant determinant in the decision-making process for future guests.
How important are guests reviews?
By receiving the guests’ evaluation, hotels could find a way to moderate their operations to provide the guests with the best experience. Guests leave reviews because they want to give other online users a deep insight into their experience, as a way of helping and guiding others to find the proper accommodation. Sometimes, it could be helpful for the guests who have not decided where to stay for the night, so they are seeking reviews and advice from the previous guests. Regarding negative reviews, on the other hand, the guests often write reviews to warn others, or to vent about their experiences.
The hotel’s reputation is guaranteed when there are positive reviews. However, it is crucial to remember that hotels (along with restaurants/cafeterias) should also know how to handle complaints and negative reviews. Common practices shall include price reduction for the next visit, offer vouchers and deals, and most importantly: a sincere apology letter that addresses the issue.
What are the effects of negative reviews on hotel reputation?
E-WOM (Electronic word-of-mouth) does not only apply for reviews in the hospitality industry; it also has a notable role in molding customers’ intentions in purchasing online products. While a dissatisfied customer can share his negative experience with others with traditional word-of-mouth methods, nowadays, with the assistance of the Internet, one user could disseminate this negative experience to thousands of users. Consumers are more inclined to consider unfavorable e-WOM evaluations in their decision-making process than positive ones, according to the study. This is because the negative remarks are regarded as more accurate, impactful, useful, and significant than the positive ones.
Meanwhile, some other findings have also pointed out that negative opinions affected sales more significantly than positive ones (Duverger, 2013; Mauri and Minazzi, 2013). For example, Ogut and Tas (2012) found thatonline sales of rooms are higher with customer evaluations and ratings when it comes to hotels.This line of research indicates that the higher the customer ratings are, the higher the customers will book the rooms. In investigating the effect of negative attitudes on hotels, Sparks and Browning (2011) explain that positive feedback results garner more favorable views for the hotel. Therefore, the hotel’s reputation is harmed, causing a plunge in the revenue.
It is vital to understand the customers’ experiences. Specifically, hotels should also keep track of their reputation through their social media image as well as the customers’ feedback and satisfaction. Hotels should further write appreciation messages to the positive reviews, and respond to negative reviews professionally. Once the negative review got out of hand, these negative reviews could adversely wreck the hotel’s reputation.
Duverger, P. (2013). Curvilinear effects of user-generated content on hotels’ market share: a dynamic panel-data analysis. Journal of Travel Research, 52(4), 465-478.
Fernandes, T., & Fernandes, F. (2018). Sharing dissatisfaction online: analyzing the nature and predictors of hotel guests negative reviews. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 27(2), 127-150.
Ladhari, R., & Michaud, M. (2015). eWOM effects on hotel booking intentions, attitudes, trust, and website perceptions. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 46, 36-45.
Mauri, A. G., & Minazzi, R. (2013). Web reviews influence on expectations and purchasing intentions of hotel potential customers. International journal of hospitality management, 34, 99-107.
Öğüt, H., & Onur Taş, B. K. (2012). The influence of internet customer reviews on the online sales and prices in hotel industry. The Service Industries Journal, 32(2), 197-214.
Sparks, B. A., & Browning, V. (2011). The impact of online reviews on hotel booking intentions and perception of trust. Tourism management, 32(6), 1310-1323.
Written by AirHost Marketing Team