Today’s empowered traveler makes lodging decisions based largely on a hotel’s online reputation. Are you where you want to be?
According to a recent article in Forbes, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and businesses lose 22% of potential guests when a negative review exists on the first page of relevant search results (93% of searchers never venture past the first page). Add two additional negative reviews and the damage increases significantly – to the tune of 59% fewer customers.
Reviews and testimonials are important, but so is a business’s overall online presence and brand. The sheer influence of online reviews, social media posts, and website quality equals serious visibility – good or bad. These factors all but mandate a focus on online reputation management, especially in the hospitality industry.
In this reputation management guide, we’ll cover seven concepts that can help any hotel, from a boutique establishment to a sprawling franchise, effectively craft the ideal online presence and positive reputation.
Find Your Guests
The majority of travelers actively use social media when researching and eventually booking a hotel stay. Knowing that nearly half of all leisure travelers will learn about a particular destination via Twitter, 97% of vacationers will post photos to Facebook or Instagram, or 87% of Millennials who actively use Facebook will use it for travel inspiration, lends credibility to the notion that hospitality businesses must integrate social media marketing into their virtual bag of hospitality reputation management tricks.
Position your brand wherever your target audience looks for inspiration and ideas of where to travel to next.
Create and Maintain an Engaging Website
Half of all travelers will book a vacation or hotel via a smartphone or tablet, which means your site must be optimized for mobile. It helps to invite visitors to your site or social media page to leave their own user-generated content that works towards promoting your hospitality brand.
If your site is tough to navigate, counterintuitive, or simply boring, you’ll quickly lose guests. When you’re ready to improve your online presence, craft your social media profile, and build out your website, focus on the user experience. Think about your brand from a guest’s perspective!
Be Responsive to All Guests
A good review is nice to have for your hospitality reputation management, but a poor review left unresolved (or not responded to) harms a hotel group or hospitality business. Enact measures to ensure all reviews are responded to in a timely and professional manner, and never engage in online negativity with a customer.
When responding to negative online reviews, take a moment, step back, and reflect. Look at the reviews from the guest’s perspective. Try to keep emotion out of it. Look for common themes or similarities to leverage the data and make effective changes.
For instance, if you notice several reviews about the lack of chairs available at the pool, discuss possible solutions with your team. Many vacationers only get to swim when they visit a hotel pool. This problem can be rectified by buying more chairs, rearranging the pool deck, or instituting some type of reservation program.
Negative reviews are guests telling you how to improve. A responsive brand will win favor with existing and prospective guests alike by taking these reviews as constructive feedback and managing their reputation.
Create a Guest Experience Program
Famed business author Jim Collins once stated, “Good is the enemy of great.” Many hotels have closed or suffered poor business due to settling for good. Often, it’s when “great” is right around the corner.
The best source of information to achieve greatness lies with your guests. Ask for feedback. Don’t filter out the uncomfortable stuff. Always aim to create an experience that leaves nothing to chance.
A sample of questions to ask:
- Is your hotel memorable or distinctive (for the right reasons)?
- Do you listen to your guests and implement new ideas?
- Have you educated your staff to embody your brand and core values?
- Do guests feel special when they stay with you?
- Are you the place guests will always want to return? Why?
- Do you find ways to elevate the experience, or are you content with “good enough”?
Some hotel groups experience low vacancy rates and high profits because they continually refine the guest experience. They identify what guests want. Guests want their preferred hotel to know, cater to, and reward them.
Employ Advanced Analytics
Now that you’ve created a guest experience program and have access to hundreds of reviews and data points related to guest satisfaction, it is time to put this information to work to enable better, quicker decision making.
Analysis allows organizational leaders to start, continue, or stop exhibiting certain behaviors and activities via near-real-time responses. Here are a few examples of how data can help:
- If data analysis shows guests largely rate the hotel lower than industry norm in the quality of dining options available, this can help intelligently steer the allocation of budget toward new dining room or kitchen investments, hiring culinary staff, etc.
- If data points to low average scores on bed comfort throughout numerous guest surveys, management can ask additional questions during surveys to discover what would have made the beds more comfortable.
Imagine taking feedback from a guest who would have preferred a softer bed, adding it to the hotel’s information database, and then ensuring a memory foam topper was installed on the beds in that particular guest’s future rooms. You can even make note of this fact when welcoming the guest back.
“Welcome back, Ms. Johnson – we made note of your desire for a softer bed, and based on your overall feedback from the last time you stayed with us, we’ve opted to place a memory foam mattress topper on the bed. Please let us know what you think after a good night of sleep!”
A higher and more customized level of guest service and reputation management will be well-received and appreciated.
Partner with Influencers
Social media influencers can boost a hotel brand’s visibility while also boosting a hotel’s online reputation. A digital agency can help you connect with relevant influencers that can showcase your hotel or include your brand in their wide-reaching messages. Like any other digital campaign, you’ll want to set a budget, action items, and goals.
It may make sense to partner with influencers year-round. Or, you may just want to employ an influencer marketing campaign for a new amenity announcement or special occasion. The goal should be finding the right fit for your brand. This requires proper research, vetting, and goals for each influencer you work with.
Create Your Own Brand Ambassadors
A satisfied employee is often the best marketing force a company could ask for. Beyond the simple “I love where I work,” satisfied and engaged employees often tout the benefits of their company to dozens of people over a given month.
Encourage employees to post online about the hotel, create branding campaigns to promote innovation and internal, friendly competition, and always give praise to those employees who go above and beyond.
Today’s sophisticated traveler often knows more about your hotel than you might think – and that’s all before they even visit your carefully curated website.
Keep these reputation management fundamentals in mind as you continue to build your brand and strengthen all key indicators related to your virtual and tangible presence. Your guests will respond positively and drive your business forward.