Negative online hotel reviews don't usually mean much to prospective guests, according to new research. As a matter of fact, people are more likely to focus on positive feedback.
A study by Australia's Macquarie University finds that positive hotel reviews could hold the most weight for those future customers. Potential guests also have a tendency to disregard mixed and negative reviews.
Author and lecturer Dr Shahin Sharifi said people struggle to interpret and evaluate mixed hotel reviews. As a result, people tend to place greater weight on purely positive or negative hotel reviews, and the positive reviews have the most influence.
"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," he said. However, the tables are turned when a hotel offers a "100 per cent satisfaction" guarantee. Here's when mixed reviews become the most trusted source.
This is because customers consider the guarantee a signal that positive pieces in a mixed review should be weighed more heavily than negative pieces.
"For hoteliers, the most important thing is to focus on providing good service to customers rather than guaranteeing it," said Sharifi.
Sharifi added that hotels should keep the good reviews coming.
"Positive reviews influence prospective customers more. 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," he concluded.