The Importance of Online Reviews

Online reviews are an increasingly important part of managing a business in the travel industry. The number of consumers that read online reviews before visiting local businesses went from 67% in 2010 to 87% in 2020.

Benefits of Reviews

  • Reviews have the ability to enhance your credibility and raise conversion rates by providing social proof. 
  • Reviews are powerful tools that increase customer engagement and provide feedback on your customer service. 
  • Reviews and word of mouth are the most powerful factor when it comes to influencing people’s purchasing decisions. 

Key Online Review Stats

  • For businesses that have less than a 4-star rating, just 48% of customers will consider purchasing their products or services.
  • There has been an increase in consumers who read online reviews for their local businesses, which is now at 87% versus 81% in 2019.
  • On any given day, 34% of consumers use the internet to look for a local business, with 93% doing so just in the last year. 
  • Industries that are most likely to have people reading reviews are hotels, restaurants, automotive, clothing, and medical. 

Best Online Review Sites for Any Travel Business

Google Reviews

Google is first and foremost a search engine, but it’s also evolved to be a key resource for trip planning. It provides plenty of information for customers including location, pricing, and reviews. Business owners can manage their details Google such as their phone number, address, hours of operation, and online reviews using Google My Business. Reviews on Google show up in search engine results and are displayed in Google Maps results. 

Facebook Business Reviews

Facebook is the world’s largest social media site, so it’s imperative to have a Facebook profile for any business to flourish. With more than 2 billion users, a Facebook Company page can give your business the visibility it needs and gets you in touch with your audience. It also takes a different approach to reviews; rather than having a star-based system, it now lets users decide if they wish to “recommend” your business or not. Facebook reviews show up in search results and are also referenced by other platforms such as Google. 

Yelp

Yelp is estimated to have over 178 million monthly users, so there is a huge opportunity here. Yelp was once known primarily as a resource for finding local restaurants, but they are also quite popular as a resource for other local business categories including hotels, attractions, entertainment venues, and more. While not as large as Google or Facebook, Yelp reviews are regarded by many as the most trusted source for reviews and recommendations due to their strict review moderation. Yelp reviews show up prominently in search results, especially for restaurants, and are also referenced in Apple Maps. 

Most Popular Hotel Review Sites (including Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts)

Booking.com

Booking.com has more than 29 million listings for hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and vacation homes throughout the world and claims to have over 1.5 million rooms reserved every day. It only seems smart to have your own business listed with them.

Expedia (includes Orbitz, Hotels.com, Travelocity) 

Putting your business up on Expedia opens you up to opportunities for exposure on other sites. This company works alongside Orbits, Hotels.com, and Travelocity, all of which are part of the Expedia Group. Together, they account for more than a quarter of hotel reviews throughout the 10 most popular sites.  

Best Online Review Sites for Tour Operators

TripAdvisor

Even if Facebook and Google have eclipsed travel sites in recent years, this is one that’s still relevant. Tripadvisor is known as the largest travel site in the world and accounts for 25% of all reviews for hotels across the top 10 travel sites. 

Viator

This marketplace is another online travel agent that provides a booking service for users to book and rate activities, tours, and other travel experiences. Viator only lets verified users to make reviews, so you can be sure of its quality. Guests can rate their experience on a five star scale and are also encouraged to give comments. 

Best Online Review Sites for Restaurants

OpenTable

Restaurants use OpenTable as a review site as well as an online reservation system. With more than 50,000 restaurants available, OpenTable reports having around 131 million diners monthly. Because it has so much traffic, it’s best to ensure that your restaurant only has good reviews, otherwise, there’s a huge chance that you’ll be overlooked. 

Zomato

Previously known as Urbanspoon, Zomato is a frequently visited and highly regarded site for restaurants. It contains over 1 million restaurants from all over the globe, which means it gets reviews from everyone—everyday customers, bloggers, and even food critics. Claiming your restaurant in Zomato allows you to edit your business’s information, reply to customer reviews, and advertise your listing. 

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Best Practices for Managing Reviews

Encourage Guests to Leave Reviews

Ask for Reviews Upon Checkout

While it can be intimidating to ask for a review in person, it is one of the most effective ways to approach customers. So if you get the opportunity, take it! The best-case scenario is if a customer already gives you unsolicited praise. When this happens, thank them for their feedback, then make the suggestion of providing their opinions online. 

Send Review Requests by Email

Customers feel appreciated when they get a personal email straight from the business owner. This is best done by choosing a handful of customers who have been loyal and have given you a lot of business. Send them an email that thanks them for their loyalty and ask for a review. 

Use Reputation Management Software

Birdeye

This SaaS software helps to manage your online reputation by giving tools to improve customer experience. Its strong focus on reviews allows your business to create surveys, along with webchat and customer insights. It also provides users with a glimpse of search reputation using Google. 

GatherUp

This cloud-based review platform helps small businesses manage and collect online reviews. It comes with SEO tools, inbound and outbound text messaging, reputation management, and more solutions to help your growing business. Its sales funnels and centralized database allows users to drive traffic to your website while you convert visitors. 

BrightLocal

Making marketing simple is BrightLocal’s mission. This multipurpose software was designed for SMBs and marketing agencies, allowing it to automate your business’s reputation management. It monitors and resources reviews, manages your business listings, and provides details on local search rankings. 

Monitor Your Reviews

It’s vital to keep an eye on reviews. A few bad experiences could spell disaster for your business if left unnoticed. While it’s difficult to always have your eyes on your business, the tools mentioned above can make it manageable. Such tools allow you to leave a response in the dashboard which will then appear on the site where you saw the negative review. Here are some more tips to help you out.

Respond to Reviews

A common best practice is to respond to every review. Responses help show that you care about your customers and value their feedback. It also provided a way to provide additional context on the situation surrounding a negative experience.

No matter what you do, don’t use a generic message to reply to reviews. Research shows that 70% of readers could be put off by businesses that use a templated response. Always listen to their opinions, provide solutions professionally and publicly, and then give your side of the story. 

If you aren’t sure exactly how to respond to review, you’re not alone! Here is a link to handy guide that we recommend to our customers that will help you formulate responses to typical situations.

Ways to Monitor Reviews

As mentioned, getting reputation management software is a great way to monitor your reviews wherever they may be posted. You can also set up automated alerts using Google alerts, which will ping you whenever your business gets a review or mention on the web. 

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

It’s only natural to get mad about bad reviews, but you need to maintain your composure and keep your cool. Don’t let emotions sway your judgment or influence what you write in response to the customer. It’s always best to wait some time to regain a calm mental state and then write your response professionally. 

Don’t Forget to Respond to Positive Reviews

Responding to positive guest reviews is an excellent way to support marketing for your business, promote customer loyalty, and to build a buzz in the community. So make sure to pay attention to reviews and always reply with a personal touch, to add more to the customer’s experience. 

Promote Your Reviews

When you receive a particularly positive and helpful review, don’t just let it sit there waiting to be discovered. Instead, share it everywhere—Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. A great review can be an excellent way to market your business, especially if it’s from a credible source. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which travel review site(s) are the most important ones to focus on?

Depending on your business, there are many different sites to keep your eye on. However, the biggest ones that are currently on top of the ranking for travel reviews are Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

How to respond to negative reviews?

Always remember to stay calm and maintain your composure. No one wants to see a business owner or a CEO lose it on social media. Never let your emotions get the better of you and respond in a professional manner. Need some more detailed advice? Click here for a guide on how to respond to reviews.

Should I respond to positive reviews?

​Yes. Positive reviews can present a great opportunity to let your customers know that you care about their feedback. It also lets you create buzz for your business and gives your customers a better experience after their transaction with you.

What if I have a fake or fraudulent review?

Fake or fraudulent reviews are best hidden or removed completely. And because fake reviews have been on the rise in recent years, it’s best to stay vigilant. Click here for a guide for how to deal with fake reviews on Google and click here for a similar guide for Facebook.

Meet the Author:

Carl Lefever

Carl Lefever, Founder & Strategist

Carl is the founder of Improve & Grow, LLC, where his primary passion is helping businesses grow by improving their online marketing. He leads the team and is involved in developing and executing internet marketing strategies for our clients. Carl's background is in continuous improvement disciplines, focused on sales and marketing operations. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He is a proud father of 4 girls and loves traveling and supporting missions work.