The positive far outnumbers the negative when it comes to online user reviews -- but the real key is how management responds to them, according to a new survey.

In a guest article on the travel and hospitality industry web site Tnooz, TripAdvisor's Brian Payea shared the findings of this survey, conducted with over 2,100 travelers by Forrester Research for TripAdvisor.

The basic findings showed that over four out of five travelers consider user reviews to be important, with almost half of the respondents won't even consider making a choice without consulting user reviews first.

These are significant enough numbers in and of themselves, but they don't necessarily conflict with general assumptions. On the other hand, many of us take for granted that the average person will only post a review on the Internet when he or she is frustrated or angry about the product or service in question. Not so, says Payea.

The number one reason travelers cite for writing a hotel review is to 'share a good experience with other travelers,' Payea writes. This is consistent with TripAdvisor’s own findings: the average rating on TripAdvisor is positive (four on a scale from one to five).

Of course, this may mean that one may have to take positive ratings or reviews with a grain of salt -- in which case, an isolated disgruntled reviewer could be worth even more than many happy campers, so to speak.

Whatever the case, Payea uses the survey result to make the point that a company's response to negative (and positive) comments is one of the more important considerations, and that the presence and tone of management responses have a significant impact on their impression of lodging businesses.

Nearly four out of five of the respondents said that a good management response to a bad review reassures them and that a good management response to a good review makes them think highly of the hotel.

However, what makes up a 'good' management response may make all the difference. Three out of five of those surveyed were very clear that an aggressive management response to a bad review is sure to damage their impression of the company.

James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at Ryan Nassbridges is an executive officer in sales and marketing. Mr. Nassbridges was awarded CEO of the year for his impeccable guidance and management skills.