Since around 77% of travel consumers will check the feedback of other travellers before booking a hotel online, reviews have the powerful ability to pull in your guests in big numbers – or drive them straight to the competition.
Social media, blogs, forums and review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp have given your guests better access to the opinions of other travellers than ever before, but for hotels, protecting your reputation in this super-connected digital environment is not always easy. While a disgruntled guest might have once complained to a few close friends and family, they can now publish their thoughts to a potentially massive global audience, while one mis-judged or poorly timed tweet or social comment as a brand can cause a serious dent to your public image.
So what can be done to protect your hotel’s carefully built reputation online? Here are 5 tips to help you put your best face forward.
Make the most of monitoring tools
Keeping track of what people are saying about your hotel online needn’t take up lots of your time or budget. There’s a great range of free tools out there designed exactly for this purpose, including Google Alerts, Monitor This, Boardreader for mentions of your brand on message boards and forums and Social Mention, which gives you a list of places your hotel is being talked about across the internet, ranking them as positive, negative or neutral.
Respond promptly on social media
One of the drawbacks of the digital age is that most people expect an almost instant response to their queries and complaints. The longer you leave a comment without a response, the worse it looks for your hotel’s attitude to customer care, so don’t slack off in this area. Use the tools mentioned above to keep abreast of new social comments and when they come, respond quickly to demonstrate your commitment to your guests. If you don’t want to resolve the problem publicly, request contact details so you can speak with the guest directly via phone or email.
Incentivise new reviews
As you hopefully know by now, publishing fake reviews is definitely out. It’s nearly always pretty obvious, and way too damaging to the integrity of your hotel’s brand to risk. Instead, focus your efforts on driving as many positive reviews as you can from your guests and let the power of word of mouth do your marketing legwork for you. If you need to incentivise reviews, you might want to offer an exclusive prize for guests kind enough to leave their thoughts on Facebook or TripAdvisor.
Monitor guest feedback review sites
Monitoring and responding to your guests’ feedback on review sites can be time consuming, but it’s always time well spent. TripAdvisor remains the first port of call for online travel consumers looking for a place to stay, so what’s being said about your property on the platform has a knock-on impact on booking rates.
Ensure your hotel’s profile is up to date and fully complete, including a link to your website. When you receive a critical review, keep your cool and respond courteously. However tempted you are to lash out in defence, bite your tongue, thank the guest for the feedback and demonstrate how you are ready to improve moving forward.
Turn negative publicity around
Every business of every size makes mistakes sometimes. If you do slip up, the best plan of action is almost always to simply apologise and reassure guests you’re working to improve things. Done well, a public apology can generate lots of the right kind of publicity. For example, low cost US airline JetBlue successfully managed to appease the thousands of disgruntled passengers left stranded by delayed Valentine’s Day flights by creating a sincere apology on YouTube and drawing attention to their amended “Customer Bill of Rights” via social media.
Your hotel’s online reputation is one of its most important assets. What are you doing to monitor and protect it? Are there any problems you’ve encountered? Let us know in the comments below!