The folks at Revinate recently published their 2018 Global Hotel Reputation Benchmark Report, analyzing 77 million reviews posted in 2017 alone, taken from 138,000 hotels located in over 200 countries. It’s always interesting to compare with previous editions to see trends emerge, increases or decreases in response rates and various best practices arise in the online reputation management sphere.
I reported on this last year, stating that Online Reputation Management Is Still A Challenge for Hotels, which is something I would say can clearly be extended to most practitioners in the travel and hospitality industry, from restaurant owners to museums, car rental agencies and attractions alike. One main reason is the sheer volume of reviews received, which keeps increasing year over year.
In fact, reviews grew by 20% in 2015, by 22% in 2016 and by 27% in 2017 according to Revinate. When you take a closer look at numbers however, you realize this growth came mostly from two platforms in the past two years: Google and Facebook, which aren’t by definition travel-specific sites like Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking or TripAdvisor.
Last year, the top 4 sites accounted for 74% of review volume included Booking, Google, TripAdvisor and Facebook. Compare this to 2016, when the top 4 sites accounted for 80% of all reviews and comprised of Booking, Google, TripAdvisor and Hotels.com. In 2015, Google wasn’t even in this top 4, and you will notice Facebook wasn’t even in the top 4 for the past two years. In other words, we’re clearly seeing a changing of the guard here.
Facebook and Google, travel review sites?
Again, it helps to compare with previous editions of these reports to see an interesting trend emerge, in particular with regards to Google and Facebook. So I thought I would sum it up in this little chart. Here is the evolution for the top 10 online review sites for hotels:
Google is clearly driving the growth spur, as we can see in this chart. In fact, at this pace Google is on track to become the number one hotel review site in 2018, but are hoteliers taking notice and managing their Google My Business account accordingly? I could ask the same question to restaurant owners and other travel-related brands, mind you…
Online Travel Agencies (OTA) should also be concerned by this latest report, as we are seeing Booking.com losing steam, even though it still reigns for the time being as the number one review site for hotels. Priceline is no longer in the top 10 – most likely grouped with Yelp in the “Others” category – and we can see Expedia losing market share as well (including with its Hotel.com subsidiary).
You will notice also how Facebook nearly tripled its share in review distribution in the past two years. This echoes what I have been seeing first-hand with clients, too. I manage a few different Facebook Pages, including a popular restaurant in Quebec City. We used to receive 5-6 reviews per month on TripAdvisor, and perhaps the same amount, even less, on Google and Facebook. Now? We received three reviews since the beginning of 2018 on TripAdvisor, while we get reviews daily, sometimes more than once a day, on both Google and Facebook!
This is certainly not good news for TripAdvisor, which has lost 35% of its global share of hotel reviews, according to Revinate data, between 2015 and 2017. TripAdvisor still gets a lot of traffic, of course, being top 3 most-consulted travel sites in various countries, but for how long?
Response Rate Still Good
The silver lining in this latest report is that hoteliers are doing a pretty decent job of answering most reviews, or at least those deemed worthy of a response. Because let’s be honest, there are various situations when a review does not warrant a response, for example when a customer simply rates the hotel or restaurant, without leaving any comment.
In fact, the average response rate was 29% in 2017, which is slightly higher than the average rate found back in 2016 (28%) and in 2015 (25%), but not as high as the 36% response rate found back in 2014. Considering the high volumes of reviews hoteliers are dealing with nowadays, this represents somewhat of a progress and evidence that online reputation management is coming of age.