Many of us probably reviewed at least one hotel after staying there. But most of us don’t know about the way hoteliers manage their reviews. Let’s chat with Alex Tan, Managing Director APAC of TrustYou, a leading review management platform startup, based out of Germany to know about the behind the scene of hotel review management.
How do you personally select a hotel based on reviews?
I usually select hotels with good ratings or scores. For example, at least 4 out of 5 stars or above 80%. I also read the reviews and take those into account when making a decision as well.
Do you write reviews for the hotels you have stayed at?
Yes, I do. Especially if there’s something that I particularly enjoyed, or otherwise, about the hotel.
In addition, how do you normally structure your review? What are some criteria that you tend to give more weight to?
I always look at both the hardware (eg. room, cleanliness, furniture) and software (service standard, friendliness) of the hotel when writing reviews.
You mentioned hotels have learnt of TrustYou through events, talks etc. The company also has a website with nearly one million monthly visits, is content marketing also a good way of attracting clients?
Content marketing is definitely important in this in this age of the Internet. We regularly publish and share a variety of content including best practice guides, case studies with our clients, white papers, ebooks, interesting blog posts on the current state of the industry, as well as technology topics and trends. We are known for our expertise on reviews and feedback and create a lot of awareness for our platform though content.
Any similarities or differences in the way that that various Southeast Asian nationalities write their reviews?
There’s no specific structure or pattern detected at the moment.
Generally, reviews come from all nationalities with criteria such as room size, service and location being the most mentioned.
What are the most important feedback data that hotels like to use from TrustYou and why?
Our solutions can be used in two main areas by hotels – Review Marketing to drive direct bookings, boost channel conversions and lower distribution costs and Operational Excellence to increase guest satisfaction, improve staff operations and grow hotel revenue. Popular KPIs used by our clients are the Comp Set Analysis, Sentiment Scores, Performance Scores, and the Response Rate.
Fake reviews are a big issue for TripAdvisor. What do you think about fake reviews and how does TrustYou deal with this issue?
For us, the discussion on fake ratings and authenticity of reviews are fortunately in the past. The vast majority of online portals have implemented many measures to ensure the authenticity of reviews and we rely on that.
TrustYou offers a guest survey feature on our platform that hotels use to send out reviews to their guests. This way the hotel can be sure that it will receive reviews that are 100% authentic, as they can only be submitted after the guest has visited the site. We see a clear trend among our users – around 50% of all hotel reviews now use own guest surveys. Today, guest feedback is much more than just an assessment of accomplishments or a review. Together with price and location, they are a key decision-making factor for bookings and show hotels exactly where they stand, how they perform and what can be improved.
What would TrustYou suggest hoteliers do to manage negative reviews? What are the short-term solutions and long-term ones?
It is important to respond to reviews, especially the negative ones. If there are consistent negative reviews, hotel management should use the reviews as basis to relook into its management policies and make the necessary changes/improvements accordingly.
Additionally, a tip that we always share with hotels is “the more the better”. One bad review out of ten has a big impact on the overall rating and reputation, but one out of a hundred or even a thousand has almost no impact. So the more reviews a hotel receives the better as it directly affects the visibility and the overall score positively.
Nevertheless, hotels are always recommended to respond to bad reviews and take appropriate action to prevent the incident from repeating.
TrustYou is available in 19 languages. Is there any relation between review language and conversion rate?
For example, does a hotel with, say, more Thai reviews tend to have a higher conversion rate among Thai nationals?
We are unable to provide data on this at the moment.
There are usually different criteria when guests write a review, such as location, quality, price, service, or reviewing in a group versus solo travelers or couples. Is there anything interesting to mention about?
The biggest difference we see is the relevance of specific categories. For example, while business travelers place more importance on the availability of WiFi, conference facilities, or the gym, families have shown to rate amenities (especially for children) and the specific service targeted at them.
Will TrustYou integrate reviews from homestay accommodations such as Airbnb?
Yes, we analyse all reviews across the web including homestay accommodations for more than 500,000 accommodations worldwide in 19 different languages.
What is TrustYou’s focus in Asia for 2018?
Our focus for 2018 is to grow our presence in the Asia market. Major investments have been made. For example, increasing staff strength in the APAC team by 60% compared to a year ago, having Client Success support located in Singapore instead of Munich in order to provide more timely and efficient support to our hotel partners in Asia, and having locally-based staff in Bangkok and Mumbai in addition to the team in Singapore.