In a generation overcome by Yelp reviewers waving their flags, and index fingers, it may come as no surprise that new research shows that online reviews can make or break a business.
In case you were wondering, the answer is yes: online reviews matter endlessly, and if you're a business owner whose establishment is getting dissed, you'd best apply for a drastic makeover with one of those Bravo reality shows.
The business analytics software and services provider, SAS, teamed up with the Pennsylvania State University to engineer the report, "Pricing in a social world: The influence of non-price information on hotel choice.” The study examines the power of reviews versus that of pricing among hotels.
Most every time, negative reviews turn off a prospective customer so completely they he or she doesn't care how great a price you are offering.
image via shutterstock
“This study proves hotels must proactively manage their online reputation," said Kelly McGuire, PhD, Executive Director of the Hospitality and Travel Global Practice for SAS. “Hotels should monitor all key social media channels using keyword searches, and analyze conversations for trends. If many people are saying the same thing about your brand, pay attention. Sometimes the things you don’t want to hear are the ones that help you avert a crisis or turn a trend around."
If you happen to run a hotel that has been plagued by one star reviews, hope is not lost. People love to see a turnaround, and reviewers are just as happy to yap about the good, as they are the bad. They also like to pick fights with fellow reviewers.
For instance, say Antoinette from Orlando, Florida was appalled by the vermin infestation (one that unfortunately she took home with her in the form of bedbugs). She hated the noise and the poor service and how there was no hot water. Fast forward to six months later, when you've changed the sheets, bleached the floors, and repaired the plumbing. Betty from Vegas spends a night there, thoroughly enjoys her luxurious experience, and logs on to give you a positive rating. When she sees Antoinette's scathing review, she's going to get impassioned to take that Floridian down. She'll go on and on about how clearly, you've changed. She'll write glowingly, finding a prose she never knew she had in her, and then, she will tweet it, and she will post in on Facebook, and she will start the upward trend for your business.
No, but seriously, Yelp and other review sites are the ultimate word of mouth. They can be either your worst nightmare, or your best friend. Pay attention. Everyone else is.
Edited by Ryan Sartor