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HOTEL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
(first published on October 22, 2017)
With the growing influence of online reviews and social media, hotel reputation management has become of great importance for hospitality professionals. Research shows that it is one of the most powerful drivers of revenue and growth: according to the study of Cornell University, positive reviews can boost your occupancy rate by 0.54% and lead to a 1.42% increase in your revenue per available room.
Let us have a look in detail what factors influence the hotel reputation management and discuss some best-practice examples.
What is hotel reputation management?
It is about monitoring and influencing how your hotel is perceived throughout the web. Online reputation management is critical for hospitality industry due to the fact that four of five stages of the travel customer journey (based on Google’s five stages of travel) happen online:
That’s where a travel idea is born. Often, it is triggered by seeing inspiring content online. And here the role of the internet and social media is not to underestimate. By browsing through travel blogs with beautiful pictures and scrolling down Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook feeds with friends’ reports about their vacations, travelers first get an idea and then decide to plan a trip.
According to Redshift Research, around one-fifth of leisure travelers worldwide get inspiration for their travel planning on social media platforms.
Once a traveler decided to go on a trip, the research process begins including analyzing different options and searching for the best one, based on the information available online. Review sites, social media, and search engines play a very important role here. According to TripAdvisor,
83% of travelers said reviews help decide which hotel to book.
53% of travelers said they would not book a hotel until they read reviews.
The overwhelming data, support the importance of online reviews. As an online marketer, you must prioritize collecting authentic online reviews and responding to them. More on the topic – in the next section.
Booking is also an online process. Customers want the best deal, it is a fact. A lot of travelers use social networks to find good travel deals, however, they usually book either on the hotel’s site or on online travel agencies (OTAs). Research shows that after comparing room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak, 36% of travelers book their stay with them.
At this stage, travelers become your guests. It is, in fact, the only offline part of the customer journey. However, even here there is a strong connection to online. First of all, it’s important to convince the guests that they made the right decision about choosing your property and that it is consistent with the information your guests found online. Your customers should stay impressed and be willing to share their positive experiences on social media and review sites.
Even if you don’t have any presence on social media or review sites, be sure that people are talking about you. The best way you can influence and control it is by having and taking care of your page on Facebook or Twitter and/or your business listing on Google, TripAdvisor, or yelp. When your guests are still on your property, you can introduce them to your social media presence and encourage them to post pictures or write a review. More positive content online will help your hotel build your brand and result in more bookings in the future.
“Online reputation management is critical for the hospitality industry due to the fact that 4 of 5 stages of the travel customer journey happen online.”
Best practices: Online reviews, SEO and Social Media
For hotels, online reviews serve as an operational tool to measure guest satisfaction and a marketing tool to promote your property and build demand. What can be worse than having negative reviews? It’s having no reviews at all. Travelers are hesitant to book a hotel with few or no reviews. So be proactive in getting online reviews – ask for them.
As per BrightLocal survey, 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to.
Our research shows that people are more inclined to write reviews when they had either a very poor or an exceptionally good experience. So, you need to make sure that you give your guests experience worth raving about. Then it’ll be easy to ask them to publish a review afterward.
Positive reviews improve the general buzz around your hotel and help you gain control of the search results for your business, meaning the main message that customers see when they search for it. You should actively ensure that honest and positive feedback appears on review sites and social media so that you can win over potential customers.
We recommend reading: “Generate more online reviews”.
Must-Do’s when monitoring reviews
As per TripAdvisor study, another factor that drives traveler engagement next to the number of reviews is responding to them. Hotels that respond to at least one online review have a 17% increase in customer engagement. Besides, another survey shows that 65% of TripAdvisor users are more inclined to book a hotel which responds to traveler online reviews versus the one which doesn’t. On the other hand, if travelers don’t see you are interacting with guests online, they won’t see you as a business that cares about its customers.
Actionable tips and templates to respond to online reviews you can find in our Ultimate Guide to Online Reviews.
One of the classic mistakes hotels make when monitoring online reviews is not looking for patterns. Often there are similarities in customer feedback and it’s possible to see a trend. Review sites like yelp highlight words or phrases that are often repeated in reviews. On Google, hotels have review snippets which are summaries of the most common feedback falling into the categories “Rooms”, “Location”, and “Service & Facilities”.
The easiest way to notice patterns in your online reviews is to use a tracking system that records and analyzes important data from customer feedback. Here is how you can search for patterns in re:spondelligent app:
The filtering option of our tool allows you to see commonalities in the reviews giving you a deeper insight into what customers think about your business. Once the problem is identified, it is easier to react and solve it.
According to a recent Google blog post, a hotel’s ranking on Local Search and Maps depends on Google review count and score. So, more reviews and positive ratings increase your business’s visibility and improve the local ranking.
This is true not only for reviews on Google My Business but generally for social media and review sites. When customers share their positive feedback about your hotel online, search engines recognize that you are doing something right. As a result, your search engine ranking increases and it is easier for new customers to find your business.
Managing your hotel’s online reputation using SEO basically comes down to the following:
- Create positive content by actively asking your customers to review your hotel. Pushing for relevant, authentic, positive content will result in negative content to appear lower in search results. Respond to customer feedback whether negative or positive; this shows that customer service is the top priority for you.
- Be active on social networks, they have significant SEO power – content posted on these channels immediately get high ranking in search results. Link back to your hotel’s site in order to improve your website’s search relevancy and control what travelers see when searching for your hotel’s name.
“Creating positive content and being active on social networks are the two pillars of successful local SEO.”
Compared to review sites such as TripAdvisor, social networking sites are often crowded and inefficient to track customer feedback. However, social media is a powerful channel and can’t be ignored.
First of all, it is used by many travelers as a customer service platform where inquiries and complaints can be made. A fast response is expected. Second, social media gives a great possibility to communicate and engage with your customers. Social networks can be used to post news and promotions and tell stories. Hotels are an unlimited resource of stories and they should be shared with the current customers to build loyalty and attract new customers.
As we discussed above, the inspiration and research parts of customer journey increasingly shift online; staying relevant and original on social media has never been more important. The more interesting the content you generate, the more memorable it will be for travelers and the greater traffic it will drive to your site.
When telling a story, don’t limit yourself by lists of features and benefits. Be creative and try to form an emotional connection with your customers. What works extremely well on social media sites are images and videos. They are entertaining and draw attention to your hotel.
In order to excel in hotel reputation management, hotels should monitor online customer feedback and integrate it into their daily operations. It is not enough just to track and respond to online reviews, it’s crucial to analyze them, define insights, and take action.
Customer feedback should be shared with the staff, it is important to take ownership of problems and work as a team to resolve them. Use online reviews to guide staff training, empower, and motivate your team by keeping them informed and rewarding their achievements.
re:spondelligent gives you the tools to aggregate, organize, and score review data from various platforms, and improve communication with comprehensive and flexible reporting.
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About the Author
Natalia is a Co-Founder of re:spondelligent. She is passionate about helping businesses manage and respond to their customer reviews and loves sharing her industry and marketing knowledge to help brands succeed.