RESEARCH: Online hotel reviews don't sway customer opinion much
Most online hotel reviews mean nothing to future customers, according to new Macquarie University research published in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management
In a new research study by Macquarie University published in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management on the influence of positive, negative, and mixed online hotel reviews on prospective hotel customers, it was found that most reviews don’t sway customer opinions much.
Author and lecturer at Macquarie’s Department of Marketing, Dr Shahin Sharifi, found that people often find it difficult to “interpret and evaluate mixed reviews”. As a result, “people tend to place greater weight on purely positive or negative reviews, and the positive reviews have the most influence” the research stated.
On the other hand, when hotels posted a “100% satisfaction guarantee” tag, customers tend to trust the mixed reviews more and “considered the guarantee a signal that positive pieces in a mixed review should be weighed more heavily than negative pieces”.
“In today’s interconnected world, where more bookings are made online than ever before, customer reviews can make or break a business,” said Sharifi.
“Understanding the impact of positive, negative, and mixed reviews on their business is crucial for a hotel manager, particularly as managers are spending more time than ever responding to online reviews. Our findings suggest much of this time may be in vain,” Sharifi elaborated.
Shrifi pointed out that hoteliers should focus more on providing good service to customers rather than adding a tag “guaranteeing” the experience.
“Positive reviews influence prospective customers more than any other so, as you would expect, to drive future bookings it is best to have as many good reviews as possible. Following that, it is important to respond to mixed reviews as quickly as possible.
Another key finding from the research noted that mixed reviews were often discounted mostly because of a positive correlation between aversion and uncertainty among those surfing the internet for hotel recommendations.
Negative reviews of a hotel were noted to be the least trusted as readers assume that reviewers may be unreasonably retaliating against a company.