Think guest reviews aren't that important to your ongoing web strategy? Think again. In a recent USA Today article titled "Hotel giants embracing guest reviews -- good or bad," author Barbara DeLollis reports that some of the world's biggest hotel companies are adding customer reviews of their hotels to their own websites "betting that their best customers will put more faith in reviews that are on their websites because they -- unlike TripAdvisor -- have the ability to confirm whether a review writer really checked into that particular hotel." The good news for independent hoteliers is that an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System is available from Lodging Interactive that enables them to mirror -- and even surpass -- these brand initiatives.
In the article, DeLollis reports that Starwood, Marriott and Four Seasons already have their own customer review-posting portals, and Hilton, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and Radisson are in the processes of evaluating or launching programs later this year. IHG Marketing Vice President Michael Menis was referenced as saying . . . "reviews are important because they play 'an important role in helping a customer make their ultimate booking decision.'" Likewise, Hilton Senior VP of Global Online Services Chuck Sullivan, was quoted as saying: "Consumer reviews are a very positive thing. They help provide customers with a real understanding of a property. We believe that direct channels — specifically, our Web brand hotel pages — have to be seen by the guest as the ultimate source of truth."
Truth in Advertising
With so many brands either leaning towards a proprietary web-based guest review program, or already implementing one, Vallauri said consumers will soon expect it to be a standard part of every hotel's website. Lodging Interactive’s Guest Review System is leveling the playing field for independent hotels by giving them a tool that is quick to implement today and enables them to compete with the big boys while also enhancing their web strategy.
"Recent studies confirm that more than 60 percent of online shoppers and travel planners visit and seriously consider peer-written reviews prior to making their online purchase," Vallauri said. "Being able to monitor what people are saying about their individual property 24/7 is important, but enabling guest reviews to reside on your website gives hoteliers the opportunity to respond in real time to posted reviews -- good or bad -- thereby keeping potential problems in check.
"Through the Lodging interactive Guest Review System, any independent hotel that wants to validate and respond to reviews today can do so on their own website, and with no capital investment," he said. "Our Guest Review System makes it easy for travelers to share their reviews on Facebook with their network of friends. It's a tool that independent hoteliers need for their properties, but without the cost of development."