Across all segments of the hotel and hospitality industry, online reputation has become one of the most powerful drivers of revenue and growth.
Whether you’re managing a boutique resort with a dozen rooms or an international destination brand with tens or hundreds of hotel properties around the world, your ability to monitor, influence, and improve the way your hotel is perceived online by existing and potential guests can spell the difference between winning and losing.
This is where hotel reputation management comes in.
Hotel Reputation Management Today
In today’s world where consumers are more empowered than ever by technology and access to seemingly unlimited sources of information on the Internet, your online reputation can either serve as your ultimate competitive differentiator or work against your favor, leading to serious losses.
And with the focus shifting to online review sites, social media platforms, and search engines, the reputation of your hotel is no longer shaped as heavily by traditional offline media, advertising, and brand-centric content as it used to be.
Now, hotel reputation is a picture painted with what consumers are saying online — in the form of online reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor, comments and photos on Facebook and Instagram, search rankings and rich snippets on Google.
- Search: 68 percent of consumers say that at least half of their local searches result in a visit to a business. These visits eventually translate into sales, with at least half of local searches eventually leading to a purchase for 58 percent of consumers. (2017 Local Search Survey)
- Social media: 83 percent of consumers say they discover new businesses, services, and products on a monthly basis through social media before other sources. (Social Media Link)
- Ratings and reviews: Reviews rank second only to price as the most important factor considered by travelers looking for hotels and accommodations. Also, 93 percent of hotel executives agree that reviews are “important for the future” of their business, and 59 percent consider online reputation management as one of the biggest investment priorities in hospitality today. (TripAdvisor)
Hotel Reputation Management: Best Practices and Tactics
1: Claim your business listing.
Whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not, your hotel is probably already listed on a number of social media platforms, online review sites, and search engines.
The first step to protecting and improving your hotel reputation is to claim your business listings. Not only does this give you more control over what’s being said by guests about your hotel; it also effectively plants your flag on key digital properties (outside of your own website, that is) so that you can more easily listen to the conversation and respond to guest feedback.
This isn’t to mention the obvious: claiming your listings and filling these with information about your hotel will also help you be found more easily by potential customers who are using social media, online review sites, and search engines to find great places to stay.
You’ll also like: “12 Signs That Your TripAdvisor Listing is On Point”
2: Get your hotel noticed by adding high-quality photos.
High-quality photos aid travelers looking to make a booking decision while browsing properties online.
In fact, according to TripAdvisor research, hotels with at least one photo receive 225 percent more booking inquiries than those with zero photos. If the business’ page features more than 100 photos, they receive 238 percent more booking inquiries.
3: Be where your guests are.
In the real world, a good hotel manager doesn’t hide away in the office; instead, he or she is present in the lobby, or walking around the hotel, in order to connect with guests as well as get the staff together to deliver the best possible guest experience.
Do the same in the online world: be where your guests are and know which channels they are using to make booking decisions. That way, you can join and engage in conversations with your guests — wherever these conversations are taking place — and build your hotel reputation on channels that are most important to them.
4: Track and respond to online reviews, social media comments, and guest feedback.
Tuning in and responding to what guests are saying online about your hotel helps increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn. By demonstrating that your hotel cares about guest feedback, perceptions immediately improve, and you can more effectively convert casual browsers to actual guests.
A study by TripAdvisor establishes a clear link between responsiveness and business performance.
- Hotels that respond to at least one online review experience a 17 percent boost in engagement from customers. The higher the response rate or response-to-review ratio, the higher the engagement levels.
- Responsive businesses also experience an upward trend in overall rating. Hotels with a response rate of 5 to 40 percent have an average rating of 4.0 out of 5, compared to an average of only 3.8 for those that don’t respond at all. Hotels with a response rate of 65 percent or above have an average overall rating of 4.15 out of 5.
Responding to reviews, social media comments, and guest feedback isn’t always easy, particularly when what you’re hearing isn’t positive. In order to protect your hotel reputation, minimize the impact of negative comments, and reinforce positives in the guest experience, always show appreciation for feedback and say thank you in your responses.
For more research, check out this Cornell University study, which shows the impact that responding to reviews can have on hotel reputation and revenue.
5: Supercharge your social media presence by sharing your best reviews and testimonials.
If your hotel consistently receives 5-star ratings and reviews on online review sites, don’t hesitate to show them off. Share guest testimonials and your best reviews on your Facebook Twitter, and Instagram profiles, or even on your company blog.
Why? Because smart hotel reputation management leverages the word-of-mouth potential of what your happiest guests are saying online, which can be far more powerful than traditional sales messages and promotional brand content.
Here’s a screenshot of one of the recent posts on the Westin Hyderabad Mindspace’s Instagram page:
6: Create a page for systematically collecting reviews and feedback.
It’s easy to think that the number of reviews and ratings that guests post online is outside of your control. However, you can be proactive in encouraging your hotel guests to be more vocal about their experiences.
One of the most effective ways to generate reviews is to create a dedicated reviews landing page for your guests. This page can be facilitated through the use of reputation management software, customer feedback surveys, an embedded reviews widget on your property website — or you can also build one for your own.
Once you have set the page up, you can share the link across your social media profiles or send friendly (and bespoke) e-mail reminders to your guests after they have checked out.
7: Gauge guest satisfaction and loyalty with the NPS survey.
The Net Promoter Score and System (NPS) is a widely used management tool for organizations looking to gauge satisfaction and loyalty.
By asking guests one question — “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this hotel?” — you can identify which ones are happy and satisfied with their experience (and therefore likely to share reviews and testimonials that strengthen your reputation) versus which ones aren’t.
NPS survey results help you categorize guests into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. To calculate your Net Promoter Score, simply subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will help fuel your growth by buying and referring other customers to your business.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers, but their lack of enthusiasm may render them vulnerable to offerings from your competition.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are dissatisfied, unhappy customers who may impede your growth and spread negative word of mouth.
In the context of your hotel reputation management strategy, the NPS methodology provides the information you need to ask the right guests (your Promoters) for reviews, while isolating those that require follow-up due to their concerns or issues with the guest experience (Detractors).
8: Use analytical tools to achieve a deeper understanding of guest feedback.
In today’s increasingly data-driven marketing landscape, analytical tools and methodologies like text analytics and sentiment analysis help companies get more out of the information shared directly by customers.
Simply put: analysis helps your company understand — in seconds and at scale — what your guests really mean whenever they share their thoughts in their own words. It helps you discover, for example, specific hotel amenities or features or operational aspects your guests love, like, dislike, or hate.
By having the ability to analyze guest feedback, you can gain deeper insight into the guest experience and foster improvements in areas where they will have the most impact.
You’ll also like: “The Customer Experience Manager’s Getting Started Guide to Text Analytics”
9: Invest in tools that drive efficiency.
Managing your online reputation is a lot of work, and may occasionally feel like managing a hundred other properties all at once. You definitely don’t want to be logging in and out of every social media channel, online review site, and search and booking platform manually.
To stay efficient, consider investing in hotel reputation management software that centralizes your reviews and ratings, analyzes guest feedback, delivers actionable insights on the guest experience, and helps your hotel stay on top of (and respond to) what guests are saying online.