Whether you run an international hotel chain, a boutique motel, or a bed & breakfast, you need online reviews. We look at the best ways to get them here.
Reputation matters in every industry. But for hotels, a bad or even mediocre reputation can be disastrous.
That's because hotels are one of the things consumers are most likely to use online reviews to find, and research shows that the lodging industry is one in which reputation matters most to consumers.
So in this competitive field, when Airbnb is eating up an ever-growing chunk of the lodging industry's profits, setting yourself apart from your area's other hotel options should be an essential part of your business model.
How do you do that? If you're picturing an expensive marketing campaign and months of strategy meetings, think again. Improving your reputation is as simple as getting more online reviews, and with the right programs in place, getting those reviews might become one of the easiest parts of your job.
Reviews? Why Should I Care?
You may not be in the habit of checking Yelp before visiting a new restaurant, or digging into Angie's List before hiring a contractor. But if you're not, you're in the minority.
More than 90 percent of American consumers read reviews at least occasionally, according to a recent survey. Also worth noting? Hotels and B&Bs are the second most commonly-searched industry on online review sites.
As a consumer, having access to scores of reviews written by real customers is awesome. It helps you avoid the volatile hairdressers and the unreliable dog walkers, and points you to businesses that you might not otherwise have known about.
As the owner or manager of a business, however, reviews can be both a blessing and a curse. That's because you have zero control over which customers write reviews about you.
So if the guy you charged for stealing the room's pillows last week wants to write a rant, he can. And if your many satisfied guests don't opt to write their own reviews, those negative ones are all that prospective guests will see when they visit your TripAdvisor or Yelp review page.
However, if you do manage to get your satisfied customers to consistently review you, their positive posts should far outweigh the negative ones. And in that case, those few negative reviews can actually help you, because consumers tend to be suspicious of businesses that have nothing but stellar raves. A few middling or negative posts will give you credibility - but again, only as long as they're outweighed by good posts.
Getting a consistent stream of positive reviews has benefits beyond the immediately obvious:
- Being talked about a lot online can help you boost your SEO (search engine optimization). The better your SEO, the more highly you rank in search engine results.
- Many people share the online reviews they write with their social media networks, boosting your name recognition and (when their reviews are positive) potentially earning you more bookings.
- Getting a lot of positive reviews gives you tons of options for pulling quotes that you can post on your website as testimonials, or proof that real people think highly of you.
How to Do It
Finding a way to naturally ask a customer to write a review can be easier in the hotel industry than in some places.
Introducing the topic should come across as organic when a guest is checking out and you're saying goodbye. And while you might not want to write a review about a $2 piece of pizza, many guests stay with you for long enough that they should feel like they might actually have something to say.
So here's how to do it:
- Wait until the guest is checking out.
- Ask for some feedback. Say something like, "How was your stay with us?"
- If the guest says something negative, you may want to offer an apology or promise to consider their complaints, then finish the interaction.
- If the guest says something positive, reply with something like, "I'm so glad to hear it! We really appreciate you staying with us, and we always encourage our guests to share their experiences on [review site] or [review site]. It helps us to improve and helps other guests to find us."
If guests at your hotel can do self check-out and therefore don't need to visit the front desk at the end of the stay, you may want to write a note about reviews on the bill that you deliver to their rooms on the morning of checkout, or print it out on cards and place them on the desk in each room. Write something like, "We're glad you decided to stay with us, and we'd love to hear about your experience. Review us on [site] or [site]! We look forward to reading your thoughts!"
If you send emails to your guests you can include links to your review site profile pages directly in the emails. This saves them the step of having to find your profiles on the review sites.
Make Life Easier
Guests may walk out of your doors planning to write a review, then get distracted by checking their flight status or figuring out how to get to the highway.
To make sure no satisfied customers slip through the cracks, use an automated system like ReputationStacker.
When you enter an email address or phone number for each guest into the system, ReputationStacker contacts them with a single-question survey that identifies the guests who feel positively about your hotel and then directs them to the review site of your choice to post a review. And it gives guests who had a less-than-stellar experience the chance to let you know what went wrong rather than directing them to the review sites.
Stand Out From the Pack
The hotel industry is crowded, and consumers rate it as one of the industries in which reputation matters most.
That means you need to have a consistent stream of positive reviews coming in if you want to impress the more than 90 percent of consumers who read online reviews before making buying decisions.
Make sure you're getting all the reviews you can using an automated system like ReputationStacker.