A recent study reveals that there is a correlation between mentions of social or environmental initiatives in online reviews and hotel ratings.
The recent study in the Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism shows a correlation between customers who mention social or environmental initiatives in online reviews and how they rate hotels. The research showed that reviews with explicit mentions of sustainability was 4.75 while reviews with implicit mentions of sustainability was 4.32 and reviews with no mention of sustainability was 4.17.
Initiatives with high scores for explicit and implicit sustainability mentions in the reviews mention sustainable management, education, biodiversity, wildlife conservation and sustainable products. Despite the promising results, the socially or environmentally responsible practices factored in in reviews might be considered low with an occurrence of 31.7% and 6.8% implicit and explicit mentions respectively. Another factor worth noting is that all the hotels in the study had a sustainability certification. These certifications often have levels, e.g. 1 through 5 or bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
When breaking down the explicit mentions of sustainability (6.8%), hotels with a Level 5 certification received nearly 19% mentions while hotels with Level 1 received only 2.1%. This indicates that hotels with a higher and more broadly integrated level of sustainability are more likely to leave an impression on the guests.
The results of the study point to a business case for investing in sustainability certification, as a strong certification means implementing sustainability throughout the organization and operations, thus becoming more noticeable to guests.