9 Questions To Help You Learn About Booking.com
Booking.com has long been a powerhouse of reviews. In fact, data from 2022 showed that 43.4% of global reviews came from this one source, so it’s more important than ever for hoteliers to understand and learn about Booking.com and stay up to date.
Almost 1,000 attendees registered for our Booking.com webinar, and many of them sent in questions in advance or asked them during the live Q&A session.
Here we share 9 questions and answers to help you learn about Booking.com, responded to by Charlotte Munro of Booking.com.
To read the full guide, download here.
1. How do review scores factor into visibility and rankings on Booking.com?
The ranking is an algorithm that takes into consideration hundreds of factors, and reviews are definitely an important aspect of that. But it’s not the be-all, end-all. It’s important that we take into consideration many other things. For example, personalization is a key element of ranking. We look at what the guest has booked previously and what kind of traveler they are, and those factors drive what properties are presented to them. Review scores are important because guests definitely don’t prioritize properties that have a low review score. So review score is one of many things that affect rankings, but it’s definitely not one of the big ones.
2. Why are guests who are ‘no-show’ allowed to leave a review?
Previously, we allowed hotels to click a setting when someone was a no-show and there was no way that they could give a review. But then a new European Union omnibus law came into effect. Now, a no-show guest can leave a review only if they came to the property and for some reason related to that experience left the property without checking in. Maybe they thought it wasn’t clean enough or it was different from what they’d booked. Or the hotel overbooked their accommodation. Those are the only two instances of a no-show where the guest is permitted to leave a review.
If guests don’t turn up but leave a review, you can reach out to Booking.com or your account manager to have it removed. We know that only a small instance of our reviews are from no-shows – I think it’s under 2%. But we definitely have a process in place to flag the review and get it removed if it does happen to you.
3. Can you explain more about the new policy of guests having to give a reason for extreme reviews?
At the moment the only part we’re utilizing is having to provide a comment for an extremely bad review. Because we know that’s more impactful. You’re not as concerned if it’s an extremely good review. It’s important to highlight that before we roll out a product, we do about 25 different experiments. If, for example, we see that requiring a reason for extremely good reviews resulted in people not giving a review or the scores were impacted, then it wouldn’t be rolled out.
4. Nowadays there are a lot of ratings without comments. What is Booking.com’s position on these reviews?
One of our key considerations is that when we ask for comments it can actually decrease the amount of reviews guests leave. This is why we’re only requiring it for extreme reviews. Some people can’t be bothered to write comments as to why they gave a certain score. So we don’t ask that because it’s a fine line between balancing the amount of reviews that you want for your property versus the actual insights. This is why we currently only ask guests to give a reason for an extremely low score.
5. Should hotels respond to ratings-only reviews?
I don’t think there’s much you can say that would be of benefit. Use your resources elsewhere. I think it’s always important to look at reviews through the lens of potential guests. If you didn’t know anything about the property, what would you want to know? What would you want to see in responses to reviews? I think there’s no point answering anything that’s not relevant. Look for constructive things to show what you would want to see if you were looking with fresh eyes at your property.
6. When guests post a review, are they prompted to say what they disliked about their stay?
These questions are prompts. For the positive aspect, we are more active about what we’re asking for. So we say, “What did you like best about your stay?” For example, was it breakfast or the staff or the location? For the negative one, the question is, “Is there anything that wasn’t as good about the property?” So we’re less assertive because obviously we don’t want to encourage people to say something negative for the sake of it or to nitpick.
But we’re always testing to see whether we can change the question or optimize it. So it does go through a lot of iterations because we look at some of the comments people leave for negative reviews and if it’s small things then we can change the question to make it more useful.
7. What can hotels do if they think a guest confused the rating system and, for example, gave a rating of 1 instead of 10?
Sometimes guests get confused and think it’s a ten or they’re just not looking when they hit their score. And I think you can see that if you’ve got a one or a two rating and the comment says, “We had an amazing experience.” If this happens, your best port of call is to message the guests because they can edit their review. We can’t change anything from our side. But if you have no luck, you can reach out to us to see if we can contact them through our app channels, for example.
8. What do you consider to be the best strategy for responding to defamatory or inaccurate reviews?
We definitely take blackmail scenarios very seriously. And we have very strict processes. So the first port of call is to flag the review as soon as possible. If the guest is still in the hotel and hasn’t left the review yet, that’s the best time to reach out to us. But if they do post it, definitely flag it to us and we have a process to get it removed. If it’s on your property page, reply in a professional tone. I know it’s hard when someone has done that to you, but just say this is not an accurate reflection of this stay. We are really quick at removing those reviews because it can be pretty impactful for properties and frustrating.
9. Booking.com used to take the average of the last two years of reviews to calculate the Guest Review Score, but during Covid it changed to three years. Is there a plan to return to two years?
So yes, it has moved to 36 months. And that is because we’re changing from the two different review systems. It actually gives a better overall review score for properties on average than it would if we reduced it to two. And also because during Covid there wasn’t enough bulk in reviews. But it’s something our data science team is always looking at – when the inflection point is to change it two. Earlier, I mentioned that we’re looking at featuring more recent reviews so that guests can see a more accurate, up to date review score of your last 12 months or your last 20 reviews, for example.
Shiji ReviewPro offers a variety of tools, such as automated review collection, review response templates, and data-driven insights designed to help hoteliers monitor, manage and understand reviews from Booking.com and other OTA and review sites. With the proper tools and strategies, hoteliers can manage their reviews, improve their review scores, and drive higher visibility and bookings on Booking.com and other review sources.
If you would like any more information or support to learn about Booking.com and online reputation strategies, please get in touch!