How to protect your hotel from fake online reviews

There is a new trend in the hospitality industry to use online review platforms to enhance one's reputation: how should hotel's respond?

articles May, 2016

How to protect your hotel from fake online reviews

The evolving problem

A new social trend called “online reviews” influences nearly every type of consumer purchase, but what is it actually? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a review as “a report that gives someone’s opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.” In other words, the action of looking and examining before making a decision. The trend of online reviews dominated the industry in a short period of time, making businesses aware of the power of user-generated content. With the development and rising importance of online review platforms, the problem of fake online reviews evolved into a major issue for the hospitality industry.

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Online reviews are well-known among internet users, especially as online reviews play an increasingly influential role in the decision-making process. As a recent customer survey states, “88% of all respondents are reading reviews in order to determine the quality of a local business.” This means online reviews help shape the travelers impression of a hotel. Furthermore, online reviews prepare potential customers for problems that may occur during their stay, and, at the end, factors into their decision on whether or not to book. So, while building your business strategy, it would be to your detriment to ignore internet platforms and online reviews.

What do people count on?

Travelers seek a unique experience, meaning their interest in your property is conditional on several factors, two of which are:

  1. Reliability

    • You consistently fulfill guest expectations
    • You display your online reviews openly on your website, whether the content is positive or negative
  2. Responsiveness
    • You respond and take action on online reviews— not only when a problem arises or a guest was discontent, but also when guests provide positive feedback
    • You add new amenities and benefits in reaction to received customer feedback and requests

You may still wonder why online reviews matter for your hotel. Obviously, because online reviews influence buyer decisions through like-minded consumers’ opinions. With online reviews it is crucially important to remember the following:

  • Both quality and quantity of online reviews matter
  • Positive online reviews create trust with potential customers
  • Travellers recommend local businesses they have been to or read about
  • People see online reviews as “personal recommendations” left by other individuals

With such a heavy influence on consumer decisions, the industry must instill trust in their online content with their potential guests. Therefore, successful hotel management engages with user-generated content, such as online reviews, to understand the needs and demands of their guests.

The Online Review

There’s usually someone who absolutely loves the product and someone else who absolutely hates it, which makes you wonder if the person who loves it is also the person selling it.” Jared Andrews, online database platform administrator

Online reviews give ordinary customers a “voice” to freely describe their experience with a product or service. Unfortunately, not all hotels earnestly recognize these opinions, considering them irrelevant and unnecessary for conducting business. However, online reviews have smart advantages that many fail to consider. First of all, it is absolutely free advertising for the hotel; when happy customers comment and leave the highest points, they attract others. Second of all, the more comments a hotel receives – the better their ranking on search engines, making them recognisable across the web. Finally, when customers leave negative online reviews they provide clear suggestions for management to apply in future processes.

Reviews for sale

Nevertheless, user-generated content may be misleading with scam data also appearing nowadays on web pages. In this case, hotels should always keep in mind that if fake reviews are spotted, the value of all their online reviews diminishes because customers no longer trust your content. Following with an example: if you looked up “The Grand Budapest Hotel” online, you would find that dozens of people complain and admire it across popular online review platforms, including extremely descriptive reviews. What you might not know about “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” is that it is a well-known Wes Anderson film released in 2014. The online review platforms and persons reading the reviews missed the fact that the hotel within the movie title has never existed. Moreover, the amount of people involved in the “reviewing process” continues growing on an almost industrial scale.

fake online review

The reason why so many people rate “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is easy to explain- it is extremely simple to review anything across the web using only personal thoughts without people contesting you. But, how did these reviews even come about? Through the simplest way to stay unnoticed, the 5-star rating system. As it is the most straightforward and widely used system, an individual easily applies it when creating an online review. However, this method is also the most effective way for positive return-rates with online reviews. It’s parameters are:

5 – excellent
4 – good
3 – average
2 – poor
1 – bad

As an additional benefit for hotels, a reviewer gets the opportunity to leave comments complementing their chosen rating.

5-star rating may also deceive persons interested in an informative online review due to the fact that some websites, like Fiverr.com, promote “write a review” jobs at a negotiable price; which, calls into question the legitimacy of the content produced there. With platforms like this, it is very likely potential guests will doubt online reviews and their validity. Another example, Yelp, freely admits the presence of scam reviews on its’ pages and continue allowing these fake online reviews on the website since, legally, they do not constitute as fraud.

Despite the growth of diversified user-generated content and the problem of fake online reviews, gaining control over your online reputation is possible with the help of Customer Alliance!

Our vision

As the amount of fake online reviews continues expanding , it is worth referring back to the question, “How should hotel’s respond?” Considering all the problems mentioned, Customer Alliance’s products are a smart investment for your business.

Review Analytics, our online reputation management solution, helps you manage your online reputation, improve your visibility, and generate more direct bookings. Review Analytics stores your online reviews in one place, reducing the time spent on managing and responding to online reviews. With Review Analytics, you automate and customise your review invitations, choosing the appropriate language and text for your guests. Review Analytics ensures the action of inviting all actual guests to review for gathering the most relevant and up-to-date data. While using this data, the software distributes online reviews across the internet by redirecting guests to different portals and your own certificate page. Also, Review Analytics provides a place for customers to leave their reviews on your website, increasing trust in your online content. At Customer Alliance, we provide the tools for you to collect, analyze, distribute, and integrate customer-centric data for valuable insights into your operational and strategic decisions.

Should you be interested in improving the online reputation of your hotel- do not hesitate to contact Customer Alliance. We believe that with our solution achieving the highest level of efficiency is just a matter of time.

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