Using Guest Reviews to Increase Bookings and Lower Cart Abandonment
September 9, 2022
Let’s imagine that for a moment you are struck by the longing effects of wanderlust. It kicks in around 1pm on a Monday afternoon. Seeking an escape from the work week, you find yourself sifting through travelers’ reviews of the “best beachfront hotels in Hawaii.”
The above scenario is not rare. When it comes to hotel bookings, guest reviews play an important role in the decision-making process – especially for booking abandonment. A single positive review can mean the difference between an abandoned reservation and your next long-term guest.
As much as 81% of would-be travelers abandon their bookings. Booking abandonment is defined as when a guest initiates the booking process but does not complete it. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as:
- They were “window shopping” or researching options
- They found a better deal elsewhere
- They need more information before feeling comfortable enough to book
Stats show that 4 out of 5 visitors to your website will leave without booking a stay, and this results in $10 billion of revenue lost for the hotel industry…every year. However, there are several things you can do to combat booking abandonment. One effective strategy is to use guest reviews as a selling point.
What are the impacts of hotel reviews?
Guest reviews have a big impact on booking rates. In a study conducted by PhoCusWright on behalf of Tripadvisor, 87% of users said Tripadvisor reviews “help me feel more confident in my decisions.” In fact, more than half of travelers say they would never consider a hotel with no online reviews.
On top of that, in 2021 just 3% of consumers would do business with brands with a two star rating or less online. This just goes to show that hotel reviews can make or break a booking. Hearing about other guests’ positive experiences can help put would-be travelers at ease and encourage them to book.
Of course, we can’t discuss online reviews without mentioning every brand’s worst fear – negative reviews. While it’s easy to believe that only positive reviews hold any weight, negative reviews can still provide benefits when approached correctly.
A whopping 89% of travelers look favorably on hotel brands that provide thoughtful responses to their reviews, and that includes negative reviews. As we already know, the more your brand shines online, the higher the chance of landing new bookings. Responding to reviews increases the chance for booking enquiries by 24%.
How guest reviews increase bookings
Hotel reviews are one of the first places travelers go to learn more about a property and what they can expect during their stay. These insights into other guest’s experiences provide potential guests with an understanding of what your hotel is really like.
Collecting guest feedback is much more than just a way of improving your satisfaction scores, it’s also an opportunity to increase direct bookings and revenue.
91% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, according to a study by Trustpilot. Furthermore, positive guest reviews can lead more visitors to your hotel website or even directly to making a booking.
Hotel websites with the highest traveler engagement rates (65%+) have an average rating of 4.15 stars. With so little as a 2.5% decrease in rating, down to 4.05, guest engagement drops by more than 50%. This proves just how much a high guest satisfaction rating can impact your bookings.
Using guest reviews to decrease booking abandonment
In Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, it was found that consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising. Winning the trust of potential guests is necessary to secure a previously abandoned booking.
While 37% of guests abandon their bookings due to pricing concerns, the number one reason travelers abandon their reservations is because they need to do more research. And what type of research will they weigh on most heavily? Online reviews!
This is why a well-placed guest review can make a significant impact on your booking recovery efforts. For example, including a guest testimonial in your recovery emails appears more trustworthy and genuine than simply stating benefits in your copy.
This will inspire other travelers to book with you and give them confidence that they’re making the right decision (as well as increasing their likelihood to follow through). Plus, customer testimonials can be used for more than just emails. With a booking recovery tool that includes exit-intent pop ups, like RezRecover, you can use guest reviews to re-engage travelers who are already considering abandoning their booking.
Why do guests leave feedback?
As we now know, travelers in search of their next vacation stay are most likely to trust the reviews of previous guests. Positive reviews also increase customer loyalty by 73%, proving that guest feedback will not only help you land new guests but also lend a hand to building lasting relationships.
That begs the question: what motivates customers to leave a review? A 2013 study found that there were seven main motivations for a guest to leave a review:
- Helping others
- Warning others
- Self enhancement
- Social benefit
- Helping the company
- Seeking advice
Though “venting” may inspire negative reviews, the vast majority of reviews left online are positive. Cornell University examined 1.28 million reviews on Tripadvisor, and found that more than 70% were positive. This shows us that experiences that inspire strong positive emotions are the most likely to produce guest reviews.
Best strategies for collecting guest reviews
When asked, 70% of consumers are happy to leave a review for a brand they’ve done business with. But what are the best ways to ask your guests for their feedback?
There are a few key things to keep in mind when collecting guest reviews:
- The timing of your request is important. Asking for feedback immediately after a guest’s stay will ensure that their experience is still fresh in their mind.
- Make it easy for guests to leave a review. The easier you make it, the more likely guests will be to follow through.
- Be personal. A personal touch goes a long way, especially when you’re asking for a favor.
Send follow-up emails
One of the most common ways for hotels to ask for feedback is through a follow-up email. This method is quick, easy, and can be automated.
When crafting your follow-up email, be sure to:
- Send it within 24 hours of the guest’s stay.
- Keep the message short and sweet. You don’t want to overwhelm guests with a lengthy email.
- Include a direct link to where guests can leave their review.
- Thank guests for their stay and let them know that their feedback is appreciated.
This is a great way to get honest feedback about their stay while it is still fresh in their mind. Just be sure to use an eye-catching subject line to increase your open rates!
Use popular online review platforms and social media
Another popular way is to use review platforms like Tripadvisor, Yelp or Google Business Reviews. These platforms are highly trusted by consumers and travelers, and provide you with valuable insights into what guests think about your hotel. By encouraging your guests to leave a review for your hotel on a site like Tripadvisor, you are also increasing the likelihood of future travelers reading the review.
As an added bonus, review platforms are likely to include up to date analytics on your performance, making it quick and simple to address all your reviews in one place. You can also encourage feedback through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — especially if you’re targeting Millennials or Gen Z.
Run giveaways and competitions
Who doesn’t love the chance to win something? That’s why many hotel brands will use competitions and giveaways as an incentive for guest reviews.
For example, many hotels will run competitions through social media. They encourage guest feedback by requiring a review in exchange for entry into the draw for a free stay at their property. This is a great way to collect valuable insights from your guests while also promoting your hotel.
Offer discounts and promotions
Finally, another option is to offer a discount for those who leave a review. This could be in the form of a coupon code or percentage off their next stay. This incentive encourages guests to take the time to leave a review while also providing them with a little something extra for their next visit.
Collecting reviews shows guests you care and gives them a chance to be heard.
While there are a number of ways to encourage guest feedback, it’s important to find what works best for your hotel. The most important thing is that you make it easy for guests to leave a review and that you show them that their feedback is appreciated.
This feedback will help you identify any areas that may need to improve in order to prevent abandoned bookings and boost their business. Furthermore, by resolving any issues that have caused previous guests to leave negative feedback, you can further increase the likelihood of a traveler completing their booking.
When you take the time to ask for a review, you’re showing your guests that their opinion matters. You’re also giving them the chance to express their feelings about your service, which will help them feel heard and valued.
Guests who feel like they can give their honest feedback are more likely to leave a five-star review—and those reviews lead to more bookings in the future!
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