Customer reviews: are you getting enough?
Modern travelers accept that writing and reading reviews are as much a part of their holiday as the chocolate on their pillow.
They make their decisions based on reviews from ‘people like them’. They write reviews to express their feelings and help others make good decisions. It’s just a part of the experience.
But hotels, tour operators and travel companies are finding it tougher and tougher to grab a slice of people’s attention. It’s harder than ever to get through the inbox spam and get those reviews – and then get them in front of the next lot of potential travelers.
At the same time, open platforms like TripAdvisor are allowing fake or malicious reviews, eroding trust in user-generated content and dissuading businesses from pursuing it.
These are big issues – because the benefits of a successful reviews strategy are massive.
So why does having lots of reviews matter?
When it comes to reviews, the cliche is true: the more, the merrier.
Let’s break down all the reasons why it pays to get serious about collecting lots of reviews.
1. Increases conversion
The first reason is simple: more reviews = higher conversion. For travelers looking for inspiration online, a wealth of honest opinion translates to wealth of confidence. For travel companies, it means an average 2.1x uplift in conversion.
Interestingly, conversion rates get higher as the volume of reviews increases. Even more interestingly, the same pattern arises whether people are reading reviews or just looking at the scores.
The more reviews available to read, the higher the conversion rates of those people that read reviews – as is shown in this graph:
Conversion rate rising as more reviews are displayed for a product. (2015 data)
Perhaps the most insightful part of this is that there is no real plateau. The conversion rates keep increasing as the volume of reviews increases.
Here’s an example: Eurocamp has been working with Reevoo to collect and use past guests’ experiences online. By collecting reviews in large volumes, Eurocamp has seen a 261% higher conversion rate for review readers and a 10% increase in bookings.
You should also be looking for other ways to let your past guests convince your future ones.
A Q&A engine (like Reevoo’s Conversations) allows customers to ask questions of verified previous travelers. This alleviates an enormous sourcing problem for many travel companies brands who previously had to respond to every inquiry themselves, in-house.
It also provides tons of new user-generated content, as each owner response is a little gold nugget of content. By introducing this feature to a recent client’s website, we got 59,000+ owners to opt-in to answering questions and generated 14,000+ customer questions. That means more trust, more activity, and more confidence from consumers.
More reviews = higher conversion.
2. Improves your SEO
Embedding user-generated content is also a valuable tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). More reviews = enhanced SEO activity. Search engines love fresh content – they value new information just as much as we do. Embedding reviews on pages and updating them frequently attracts a lot more attention from search engines. Pages that rank higher on search engines enjoy higher organic traffic.
More reviews = enhanced SEO activity.
3. Allows for more valuable insight
Thirdly, more content = more valuable insight. Customer content is full of great insight for service improvements and gaining a greater understanding of your customers. The more content available, the better decisions can be made. Our travel clients (for example, BA Holidays) have found user-generated content extremely insightful to get a better idea of what customers really think about their offering and pick up those little things that are making or breaking the customer experience (and trust us – it’s usually not what you think).
More reviews = more valuable insight.
So how do I collect lots of reviews?
We’ve spent ten years working on a ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to review collection – a methodology that keeps the numbers at an industry-leading high without letting in fake reviews or compromising on our values.
Here are some of the principles we use to help travel companies collect swathes of reviews that are COMPLETELY free of fakes.
1. Email at the right time
Optimize email sending per product type (hotels, tours, cruises and camping customers all have different needs) and by taking notice of both their check in and check out dates. Don’t email too quickly or too late… Timing is everything.
2. Email everybody
You have the data – use the data. There’s no excuse for ‘forgetting’ to ask certain groups of guests for a review. Even if you know they haven’t had a good time. Bad reviews are essential learning experiences for you and your service staff.
3. Deliver it to the right place
The last place you want your email to end up is in the spam folder. Hone your message (it takes time) to provide maximum cut-through and minimum attention from spam filters that trigger on certain words.
4. Ask the right questions
Consumers who click the link land on the questionnaire. The key here is to be in line with expectation. For example, consumers asked to fill out three pages of forms just to review a night in a hotel will walk away. Their effort needs to make them feel good about helping others.
5. Make sure the user experience is innovative
You put a lot of effort into giving your guests a great experience – don’t let it slip after the trip.
Make sure your questionnaire is responsive when it comes to the format on different devices as well as providing an overall immersive experience. This ensures the best possible user experience. We optimized our review questionnaire to display across multiple different platforms, and our review submission rate on mobile devices has leapt to 32%.
6. Pre-publish screening
Try to catch things that do not pass moderation guidelines (swearing, mentions of price etc.) immediately on the page. Once submitted, all Reevoo reviews go through human moderation – we find it works better than software, but technology’s always advancing. Do not edit the reviews, but instead send back an email to the reviewer requesting them to address the issue and resubmit. Easy!
Our methodology is the reason that while other review collection services are creeping their review response rates up from 1% to 3%, our average for travel operators is 33%. If that sounds high, it’s because it’s literally the best in the business.
More reviews sell more inventory and create happier customers. So follow our rules (or call us) to make it happen.
Hannah Murray-Sykes is Head of Marketing at Reevoo.