Published on
February 29, 2024

The Impressive Impact of Review Responses on OTA Rankings

The power of review responses cannot be overstated. In this blog we unveil the impact engaging with reviews has on conversions and we explain how using solutions like Hotelspeaker can help you achieve good interaction with your guests. Let's delve into the data and explore how active engagement with reviews can drive higher rankings on OTAs and revenue growth.

Responding to reviews positively influences conversions and ranking 

Otamiser researched the impact responding to reviews has on ranking and conversions on OTAs. Drawing from a robust data set with hotels across the world, Otamiser's findings revealed that responding to reviews boosts conversion rates with on average an impressive 12.6%.

Consistent engagement also correlates with increased visibility and higher booking rates on platforms like Booking.com. Factors like your reply rate directly influence search result rankings. To discover more about how to increase your reply score on Booking.com, take a look at our previous blog where we explain it in detail. 

However, the importance of answering reviews on all of your platforms stretches further than this. In the following of this blog we will explain why answering reviews in a qualitative way is very important. Stay tuned for tips to improve the quality of your responses and ultimately increase your revenue and ranking.  

The importance of reviews

The top 3 criteria that impact the decision making process of travellers is first of all the location, then the price, and finally the online reputation of the listing. This means that reviews and user generated content have a big impact on determining if a guest books a stay at your accommodation or not. 

Research by TripAdvisor shows that 93% of guests make their online hotel bookings after reading reviews on OTAs, and 70% of people read at least 6-12 reviews before making a booking. Positive reviews can boost bookings, while negative reviews can tarnish the image of a brand. However Otamiser research shows that the impact of good or bad reviews on your ranking is not that big, but the way you react to them can boost the positive impact or minimise the negative impact. That is the reason why handling those negative reviews in a good way is very important.


The importance of answering reviews 

Research shows that 89% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a business that responds to their reviews. This also correlates with Otamiser’s research, showing an increase of over 12% in the conversions on listings answering their reviews. This big impact can be explained by a couple of factors. 

First of all, answering reviews cultivates trust and credibility. It shows that the management of the property is actively engaged with its guests and is committed to providing excellent customer service. 

Second of all, it helps you stay close to the customer cycle. In other words, customers like to feel heard. They want to receive a thank you when saying something positive, and they want a response even more when leaving a negative review. Being quick in your responses increases guest satisfaction. It shows commitment to your goals. Additionally, it might even help you win back lost customers. 

Answer quickly to increase bookings

Research by Medallia shows a correlation between the amount of time an owner takes to respond to reviews  and the occupancy rate of the accommodation. The average occupancy rate of a listing that responds in over two days, is 39,5%. While the average occupancy rate of a listing with a response time of less than 24 hours is 53,3%. This shows that answering reviews as quickly as possible is crucial.

Tips for Effective Review Responses

Responding to reviews, both positive, negative and neutral, is a strategic imperative for accommodation providers. But how should you do it exactly? Here are some tips.

Thank the Guest 

No matter the tone or content of the review, it's important to thank the guest for taking the time to provide feedback. Use varied language in each response to keep your replies fresh and engaging. For example, you could say "Thanks for taking a moment to rate [Hotel Name], [Reviewer Name]!" or "We sincerely appreciate your feedback about your visit!"

Personalise your Answers 

Personalization is key when responding to reviews. Reference at least one detail from the reviewer's comment in your reply to show that you're paying attention to their feedback. For example, you could reference the specific location they visited or the specific feature they enjoyed. Use the reviewer's name and vary the words and phrases you use to keep your responses fresh.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, over 75% of consumers become frustrated when hotels or other businesses do not personalise customer interactions, including their responses to both negative and positive hotel reviews.

Apologise Where Necessary

Negative reviews require an additional step: apologising for the guest's experience. Keep your apology concise but sincere, and strike the right balance between acknowledging specific guest issues and not becoming defensive. For example, you could say "We're sorry to hear that your experience didn't meet your expectations. We'll take your feedback into consideration as we work to improve our services.”

Invite the Customer to Return

Express to the customer that they are valued and encouraged to revisit your establishment. This simple gesture fosters customer loyalty and demonstrates to potential guests that your business is dedicated to serving satisfied customers.

Use Keywords to Your Advantage

Otamiser research shows that implementing the right keywords into answers can limit the possible impact of a bad review on ranking, and can give an extra boost to rankings with good reviews. You can see it like this; answering to a review is an easy way to push content into the OTA algorithms; this is especially important for content on OTAs like Airbnb and VRBO. The way to find out what keywords work for your listings is by experimenting with words like the name of the city you are located at, or the name of your listing itself and see which ones help your visibility. For more information about this topic, you can book a call with our experts

Stick to your own tone of voice 

Answering reviews is part of your marketing strategy. It is important that people understand your brand in every part of your communication. For example you could own a hip hostel, then you might want to have a more playful tone in your answers. If you are oriented towards business people, then make sure to always stay professional in your communication. First of all make sure to understand what your own tone of voice is or should be and apply this to every response.  

Use tools to help you answer reviews

A lot of hotel owners and property managers struggle with staying consistent in answering their reviews. It can become a lot of work and it is not always easy to find the best response. We believe that it is important for hotel owners and property managers to focus on the core of their business without having to spend too much time on other tasks. That is why we recommend using tools to help you with this. 

Hotelspeaker is a service that provides personalised review responses for hotels. They offer a centralised dashboard to manage reviews. Hotelspeaker combines AI with their team of native writers to craft personalised responses in multiple languages. 

Their solution creates an AI persona for every client to make sure that your own tone of voice is being applied in every answer. They ultimately aim to create revenue through improved review management, our research shows that this alone can create an increase of 12,6% in your conversions. 

The huge impact of combining a strong review strategy and ranking management 

Next to responding quickly and qualitatively to reviews, ranking management will have a great impact on the success of your listings. As discussed above, answering reviews has an impact on your ranking on OTAs, but by implementing a ranking management solution in combination with a strong review strategy you will reach top positions on OTAs. 

What is ranking management? This new solution works by implementing an algorithm to your listings manipulating 951 parameters to influence your position on the OTAs your accommodations are listed on. Using a ranking management solution like Otamiser Booster increases your revenue with on average 24%, and your visibility by on average 150%. When combining this with a strong review strategy you can see the accumulation of the impact of both solutions. This will create a huge increase in your revenue and ranking. 

Key Takeaways 

  1. Timely responses boost conversions: Quick review responses drive an average increase of 12.6% in conversions.
  2. Reviews influence booking decisions: 93% of travellers use OTA reviews for booking decisions.
  3. Engagement drives trust and satisfaction: Responding to reviews builds trust, leading to higher customer retention and satisfaction.
  4. Speed matters: Quick responses correlate with higher occupancy rates.
  5. Effective response strategies: Personalized, thankful, and inviting responses are key for effective review management.
  6. Use keywords: Use the correct keywords for answering reviews and boost the visibility of your property on OTAs. 
  7. Consistency in brand voice: Maintaining brand voice across responses reinforces brand identity and messaging.
  8. Efficiency through tools: Tools like Hotelspeaker streamline review management, enhancing efficiency and driving revenue growth.
  9. Combining review strategy with ranking management: Integrating review strategies with ranking management solutions like Otamiser Booster leads to significant improvements in OTA rankings and revenue combining the effect of both solutions. 

If you are curious what review management could mean for your business, you can get a free trial for the Hotelspeaker tool now.

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