If your business is in the hotel / hospitality / restaurant segments, then by now you are well-versed in the importance of strong reputation management and lead generation via external websites.
In fact, many studies show that at least 30 percent of new customers will first become aware of your venue by shopping for options on review sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, or TripAdvisor.
Presently, the majority of review sites – in particular, Yelp – are opposed to direct review solicitation and, in fact, they are likely to penalize you and invalidate reviews if they determine your reviews are the result of direct requests to your customers.
In direct opposition to these common policies, TripAdvisor encourages review solicitation. Unfortunately, a great majority of the businesses listed on TripAdvisor do not take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. If you are among those that have not yet implemented a review generation strategy through TripAdvisor Review Express, then let us help you get started and show you how to master one of the most valuable free marketing tools on the Web for hotels, restaurants, and leisure-oriented businesses.
In a nutshell, Review Express is a free marketing tool designed to make it easy for you to invite recent customers to write and post a review on TripAdvisor. With Review Express, you can customize and send professional-looking emails to up to 1,000 customers.
Get the Basics Right from the Beginning
Whether you are a hotel, restaurant, or attraction, you can only solicit reviews from your guests if you have the basics. From the start, make sure you have processes in place that flow naturally and allow you to secure an email and permission-to-contact from each customer.
Securing an email is best achieved if done during the initial engagement, when requesting a quote or booking a reservation, for example. Keep in mind that not only do you need the email but you also need to ask permission to use the email to contact the customer with business-related communications.
Creating a strong email list will not only help you with tools like Review Express, it will also equip you to push out effective marketing promos and increase your percentage of repeat business. When creating an email list, keep in mind that accurate data matters. If at all possible, have customers enter their own data to avoid typos or other data-entry errors that might create a poor first impression. Additionally, if your CMS permits, flag records of customers with negative experiences or escalations, and exclude them from your Review Express list.
Don’t Delay: A Drip Is Better Than Peaks and Valleys
The TripAdvisor Review Express tool can handle up to 1,000 emails, but unless you are a mega-hotel you are quite unlikely to have 1,000 customer engagements all within the same window. Instead of accumulating transactions, consider sending small batches of Review Express emails.
Sending a request for a review within a week or less from the customer interaction with your business will ensure greater recall, and the reviewer will feel like he or she is more invested in the interaction. The details will be rich and descriptive, and you stand a better chance of getting a highly rated review. Additionally, there appears to be a positive correlation with profiles that receive a constant drip, moving up in popularity faster than those that have review-volume peaks and valleys.
Customize Your Template
Email saturation is one of the biggest marketing challenges to overcome. When you send a TripAdvisor Review Express email, you are competing with hundreds of promotional and business emails, and it is essential to find a way to stand out and engage with your customer.
Review Express provides all businesses with a standard solicitation template, but we strongly advise against using it. Take time to create your own template that reflects the character of your business and conveys value to your customers. Let your customers know that their opinions are precious in more ways than one, and make your solicitation an open invite for future interactions. Make sure your template is professional and free of typos and grammatical errors.
Track Your Results and Optimize Your Campaign
The TripAdvisor Review Express tool offers businesses a very useful dashboard that will let you track the effectiveness of each batch of solicitations you send out. By tracking your results, you will be able to optimize your email campaign by tweaking your template or revising the frequency and expediency of your review requests.
If you have a strong CMS, then you might be able to merge your data and customize your templates to address different segments. For example, if you are a hotel that caters to both business and leisure, then you could potentially craft a template for each segment, asking reviewers to highlight their experience based on their segmented needs.
Go from Asking to Engaging
Once a customer has given your business a good review, don’t leave it at that. Take a moment to respond to his or her review online, making sure you touch on each of the areas highlighted on the review.
In addition to responding online, if you happen to be able to make the connection and you know for certain the identity of the reviewer, then go the extra mile and send a personalized email thanking him or her for the TripAdvisor review. A personalized thank-you email is also a great opportunity to expose your customer to relevant offers and promos for future use. Why not consider including a coupon code or a newsletter highlighting the newest menu items or upcoming offers?
Securing reviews is a key element of your online-reputation strategy. TripAdvisor Review Express tool is possibly one of the best and least utilized allies in the industry. Don’t delay. Begin engaging and managing your online reviews today.