Electronic word of mouth, hereafter referred to as E-WOM, has become more and more important in a lot of industries, due to advancing digital capabilities (Moran, Muzellec, & Nolan, 2014). This also applies to the hospitality industry, you can take any platform offering accommodation and you will find a review-section. Examples are Booking.com, Airbnb and Hostelword. Now, user-generated content, or UGC, is 50% more trusted by millennials than other media (Knoblauch, 2014). This is very interesting for the hostel industry, as millennials are a big part of their demographic.
E-WOM is an important part of the Zero Moment of Truth, the moment where customers will research the product or experience before buying it (The Zero Moment of Truth Video, 2011). When looking a little closer, you will see that reviews play a significant role in E-WOM. According to a survey completed by 234 people, 90% said that they read online reviews of hostels before they book it (Somlaia, 2015). Of the same research, only 3% noted that they are not influenced by reviews in their decision-making process. Furthermore, almost half of the respondents said that they would not book a hostel with a rating lower that 70% (7 out of 10 of 3,5 out of 5) and 59% said they will not book the hostel if they have a lot of negative reviews, even though they liked the profile and description before they read the reviews. Additionally, peer-to-peer e-WOM is considered to be more believable and more trustworthy than messages from marketers (Kozinets, et al, 2010).
All this proves that there is no getting around reviews in the hostel business, for they are greatly valued by the customers. If you have many negative reviews, it can cause you to loose potential customers to your competitors with better reviews. This makes it much more important than before the digital age to ensure your customers have a good experience, for e-WOM reaches a lot more potential customers than regular word of mouth.
Now, if you are confident in the quality of your hostel it might be a good idea to stimulate your guests to write a review. Customers are more and more frequently asked to rate their stays. Sometimes hostels asks this themselves, but often customers book via platforms such as Booking.com or Hostelword. These platforms will also always ask customer to write reviews. Now they have even started asking to write in your own language, because the closer someone can relate, the more they will trust the review (Airbnb, n.d.).
All in all, it is imperative for the hostel industry to take reviews very seriously and to make sure that your customers will leave positive reviews, so that potential customers are more inclined to book their stay with your hostel.
Airbnb. (n.d.). Waarom worden mijn recensies niet op volgorde vertoond? Retrieved on 25 September 2017 from: https://www.airbnb.nl/help/article/1885/why-aren-t-my-reviews-shown-in-order
Knoblauch, M. (2014, April 9). Millennials Trust User-Generated Content 50% More Than Other Media. Retrieved on 25 September 2017 from http://www.mashable.com: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/millennials-user-generated-media/#rL7fRAM7rGqf
Kozinets, R. V., Valck, K. d., Wojnicki, A. C., & Wilner, S. J. (2010). Networked Narratives: Understanding the Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Online Communities. Journal of Marketing, 71-89.
Moran, G., Muzellec, L., & Nolan, E. (2014). Consumer Moments of Truth in the Digital Context : How “Search” and “E-Word of Mouth” Can Fuel Consumer Decision-Making. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(2), 200-204.
Somlaia, R. (2015). The Influence of Ratings on Choosing Accommodation. Sociology 5(4), pp. 282-290.
The Zero Moment of Truth Video. (2011, June). Retrieved on 25 September 2017 from http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/zero-moment-of-truth/
Featured image is retrieved from http://www.scotsail.co.uk/verified_reviews.html on 25 September 2017