A new study from Cornell University suggests that hotel guests appreciate substantive responses to negative reviews, but operators should go easy on review responses. The study found that revenue levels increase as the number of management responses increases, but only to a point. After about a 40-percent response rate, hotels seem to reach a point of diminishing returns. A full description of the study, “Hotel Performance Impact of Socially Engaging with Consumers,” by Chris Anderson and Saram Han, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Anderson is an associate professor at the Cornell School Hotel Administration, where Han is a doctoral student.
“We see that hotel managers generally want to interact with guests who post reviews on line, but the question remains of exactly how to do that,” Anderson explained. “We ran several tests of what happens when the hotels respond to reviews posted on TripAdvisor. For one thing, simply encouraging reviews is related to an improvement in a hotel’s TripAdvisor ratings, compared to competitors. Our study used Revinate Surveys for this purpose.”
Anderson and Han found that the simple fact that managers respond to reviews leads to improved sales and revenue, when consumers click through from TripAdvisor to the hotel’s listing at online travel agents. “However, we found a cautionary situation,” Anderson added. “It turns out that making too many responses is worse than offering no response at all, in terms of both ratings and revenue. So, managers should focus on making constructive responses to negative reviews rather than simply acknowledging positive comments.”