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Deciphering Digital Voices: Harnessing Online Reviews for Outdoor Hospitality Excellence

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In the world of hospitality, guest feedback serves a vital role in monitoring quality and driving improvements. However, making sense of reviews means reshaping how one interprets their underlying context.

Consider a 5-star rating scale as parallel to academic grading, where 5 equals an A grade and 1 a failing mark. Guests arrive with a default expectation of average or “C-level” experiences—the operator handles the basics satisfactorily. Exceeding expectations earns higher ratings while falling short leads to dissatisfaction.

Therefore, each review represents an opportunity for operators to go beyond the surface rating and derive meaningful insights. The words guests use and the details they provide allow operators to identify strengths to leverage and weak areas needing attention. Even a middle-of-the-road review reveals clues through subtle language patterns.

While all feedback should be embraced, the source and demographic factors behind reviews must also be weighed appropriately by operators. Above all, operators must read between the lines to decipher how guests frame perceptions of their stay within a broader consumer mindset. This reframing of the review process illuminates avenues for operators to actively listen, engage, and improve the camping experience for today’s savvier guests.

Key Insights

  • Guests tend to use consistent words in reviews based on star ratings. Positive words like “great”, “clean”, and “friendly staff” are common in 4-5 star reviews. Negative words like “rude”, “never return”, and “not clean” frequent 1-2 star reviews.
  • Staff interactions and customer service have an outsized impact on reviews, particularly negative ones. Poor experiences lead to much longer, more detailed negative reviews.
  • Guest reviews vary significantly by source platform. Google reviewers tend to give higher ratings than Yelp or TripAdvisor.
  • Comment length increased during the COVID pandemic as new campers began relying more on reviews. But length is declining again for experienced campers.
  • The % of 5-star ratings has steadily increased over time, reaching its highest point this year.

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