That was the message from hospitality industry trade groups and review sites after new research claimed businesses could lose millions of pounds due to fake or unjust reviews.
Online reputation management firm Got Juice said an estimated one in ten online reviews is fake, claiming sites “do not authenticate them or attempt to prove that the reviewer is genuine”.
It said 85% of consumers search for reviews and recommendations online before making a purchase, 82% of people trust customer reviews over testimonials on a company website and that 95% of potential customers will not buy if they read a negative review.
Colin Paton, chairman of Edinburgh Hotels Association and chief executive of Portland Hotels in Edinburgh, told SLTN it is imperative hoteliers address all guest comments online.
“Professional hoteliers care about these sites,” he said.
“There’s probably a minority in the industry that’s not happy with the [online review] system. But the system is here to stay and it’s better to work with it than to try and work against it because things are difficult enough at the moment.
“Those who are doing it correctly are seeing the benefits.”
A spokesman for the British Hospitality Association (BHA) echoed the advice for hoteliers to respond to all comments.
“Social media sites are here to stay and hoteliers recognise this,” he said.
“What concerns them are reviews which are incorrect or give a false impression of someone’s stay. There is nothing to be lost and much to be gained by giving the hotel’s side of the story – readers can then make up their own minds about the comments being made.”
TripAdvisor said it offers a range of free resources to help hospitality business owners manage their online reputation and monitor reviews.
“If an owner feels that a review is inappropriate or suspicious, we urge them to contact us immediately,” a spokeswoman said.
“Every single report of suspicious content undergoes a detailed investigation by our content integrity specialists and if a review is found to be in breach of our guidelines it will be removed from the site.
“Owners always have the last word through the management response tool. We strongly encourage business owners to take advantage of this feature and have their voice heard.”
Got Juice MD Mark Hall also urged hotel and restaurant owners to ensure they respond to online comments.
“If your business receives a negative review or mention it is very important to respond to the customer online, always remain calm and do not take it personally,” he said.
“A good response would be to offer an apology and an invitation to discuss things in more detail.”
Image – Hoteliers should address all comments.