From the CEO: Reviews Are Boring and Can’t Be Trusted
“Aren’t reviews always fake?“ and “Will people become bored of reviews?“ are two questions which I constantly hear. Naturally, those questions become more prevalent when there are stories like Vice’s report on a fake London restaurant reaching the #1 rank on TripAdvisor or if there is another story about a business that offers to write fake reviews.
My answer to those questions is that I believe reviews will always be important. However, I do believe reviews will need to change.
Word of mouth will alway be important
Let’s take a step back. How do people choose any product or service? They will always want to know what their friends and their peers think about a product or service before they buy it. Whether it is online or offline recommendations will be important and impact the purchasing decision.
That’s why, I believe, reviews are here to stay. They will not go away. However, reviews need to change. Reviews need to give insights to both the business owner and consumer. They need to solve the discovery problem and provide the right information to the right consumer at the right time.
Asking for the 1,000th time how a hotel guest would rate the breakfast on a scale from 1 to 5 is boring. The 1,000th review will not give the hotelier any more insights or value than the previous 999 responses to the same question.
On the same note, another 5 star review on the breakfast will not add value for the potential guest who is searching for a hotel. It is more than enough for the guest to read the previous 999 reviews.
This is why the questionnaire should include better questions which give real insights and enable business owners to gain insights to improve their operations. (Below you will find examples of questions which some of our clients ask.)
Discovery problem and fake reviews
Connecting a review with further data, such as author, type of guest, age, room number, booking channel or price, etc will provide much more context to the reviews.
Putting reviews into context is essential information to solve the discovery problem: showing a potential guest exactly the reviews that matter to them. Simply speaking, a review about a family traveller is of lower value for a guest traveling for business purposes. Instead of reading through 1,000 reviews, the potential guest will only focus on the five reviews that matter most to them and match their needs the best.
Solving the discovery problem by putting reviews into context will also help eliminate anonymous fake reviews (by the way, I actually do not believe that there are many fake reviews out there. But this is another topic). You can only put reviews into context if they are not anonymous.
I do not believe that anonymous reviews will still exist in the future. Not knowing about the author will simply not allow for the information described above to be provided. An anonymous review is just another boring review among the thousands of other reviews. Hence, those anonymous reviews will be neglected and will eventually be ignored by potential guests.
To summarize I believe reviews are not and will not be boring and become useless.
People will always want to know what other people think about a product or service. Reviews will not repeat the same information over and over again and instead provide better insights. Anonymous reviews will be neglected and review platforms will have to adapt to the demands of both business owners and customers alike.
Some questionnaire examples
As mentioned above, here is some inspiration about some simple questions that some of our clients ask to gain more insights from their guest feedback:
- “What is missing for us to become the top hotel in Berlin?” is a great question to get ideas about further investments.
- Are you thinking about investing in your spa, but unsure what is most important to guests? Ask a multiple choice question: “What do you prefer? A finnish sauna, a bio sauna or a gym?”
- If – and only if – your breakfast rating is declining, ask additional specific questions: “What did you like about the breakfast?”, “What did you not like?”, “What can be improved?”.
- Ask guests at the bar via Wifi, QR code or beacon what type of beer they prefer.
- “What is your room number / room category?” will help you to put the reviews into context (if you do not have that information already).
- Enriching the review with the price that a guest paid, will help you to find your optimal price point.
And of course, there many more questions that will give you further insights. Ask your customers about some of the questions that you currently have. It will help your decision process a lot.