Properly managing your online reputation can take your hotel, inn or B&B to the next level. The opposite is also true. Here's how to make managing your hotel's online reputation easy.
If home is where the heart is, then why is it that hotels seem to be where the heartless are?
Okay, most of your guests are probably lovely. After all, your staff works hard to make each guest feel welcomed and comfortable. Hopefully, guests notice that effort and appreciate it. But the ones who don't - the ones who feel the towels are too scratchy or the doors too squeaky or the elevators are too slow - they're happy to share their negative experiences with the world at large.
Maybe it's because people feel vulnerable when they're away from home. When they're also outside of their usual routines, tired from traveling and shelling out $100 or more per night, it's easy to imagine how people who are normally pleasant can turn vicious when they're in a hotel.
Which is a big problem when you're in the hotel industry and those guests have the Yelp or TripAdvisor apps on their phones. Getting them to write reviews isn't a challenge - it's getting the happy ones to review you that can be challenging, unless you have a tried-and-true system in place.
Checking In (on Facebook)
Say a few guests (just a few!) are dissatisfied with your hotel each day. If your staff fails to address their complaints, writing a negative review is often the next step they take. That's the right of every hotel guest, just as it's your right to write a negative review if a dry cleaner ruins your clothes.
But those few dissatisfied guests add up to a dozen or more per week. The larger the hotel, the more unhappy guests. Soon your Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor pages are filled with one- and two-star reviews.
Now prospective guests are looking at those sites and see all those negative reviews. Another hotel nearby has the same rates but better ratings. For those prospective guests, it's a no-brainer: they're booking rooms with your competition.
That's the power of online reviews. They're essential to reputation management in any industry, but especially in the service industry. According to the results of a recent survey, hotels and B&Bs are the second most-searched category on review sites, after restaurants.
Nearly half of all people who read online reviews have read them for hotels. Considering that most Americans read reviews, that means that millions and millions of people are in the habit of checking out a hotel's reviews before booking a room. Just look at these statistics:
- 97 percent of people surveyed said they had read online reviews recently.
- 49 percent said they need a business to have a rating of at least four out of five stars before using it.
- 40 percent said they don't want to use a business after reading negative reviews about it.
- People surveyed read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.
The survey revealed one more critically important piece of data, which demonstrates just how easily you can improve your online reputation: 68 percent of consumers who have been asked to write a review for a business have done it.
Getting more positive reviews is a game-changer. They attract new customers and drown out the negative reviews. There are other benefits, too. For example, search engine algorithms favor businesses that have a lot of online chatter, so they rank your hotel's website and review pages more highly when you generate a lot of reviews.
Checking Out (Your Reputation)
Your hotel's Yelp, Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor pages are where its reputation lives.
That's where guests go to get a sense of what other people are saying about you. If it's only child-phobic Greg and other dissatisfied guests there writing reviews, you won't get that four-star rating that half of all people expect to see. Those guests are going to write an online review whether or not you ask them to, so all you can do to improve your online rating and impress those prospective guests is to get your happy guests to review you, too.
It's awkward to personally ask each guest to review you, and these days you may not require guests to visit the front desk before checking out. Luckily, there's a better way - a way that encourages your happy guests to write reviews without bothering them while they're juggling suitcases.
Using an automated system like ReputationStacker, you can identify those well-rested, satisfied guests. It's easier to use than an unfamiliar hotel shower: all you have to do is enter your guests' email or phone number and the system reaches out with a one-question survey. Satisfied guests are directed to Yelp, TripAdvisor or any other sites of your choice to post a review. Dissatisfied guests are directed back to you, allowing you to address their complaints privately (before they post a negative review).
The end result: you get more Yelp reviews (and TripAdvisor reviews, and Google reviews, etc), and people looking for a hotel find out about how comfy your pillows are. It's a win-win.
The Final Bill
For most hotels, the competition is stiff. Lowering rates isn't feasible, so the only way to attract guests away from the Stay 'N Sleep down the street is to demonstrate that you offer better service than it does. They won't take your word for it, though.
Get your current and past guests to vouch for you and improve your reputation, both in the real world and online, using an automated system like ReputationStacker. It does the heavy lifting for you, getting your satisfied guests to write reviews on their own time and offering tools that help you manage your online reputation without losing sleep.