Online reviews have made a significant impact on the hospitality industry.
More than ever, consumers use information on review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google to guide their purchase and booking decisions. For managers of hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, local attractions, entertainment venues, and other kinds of hospitality businesses, this means that online reviews have a unique ability to shape their brand reputation and business bottom line.
In fact, according to recent research, reviews are considered as the No. 1 driver of travelers’ decision-making process, outranking price and cumulative rating scores. The power of reviews is such that the entire hospitality sector has identified reputation and review management as No. 2 in the list of key investment priorities this 2015 – behind only small-scale renovations.
If review management – tracking, analyzing, responding to, and collecting online reviews – is still not part of your marketing strategy, your organization may get left behind, especially in an industry as cut-throat and competitive as hospitality. Here’s a list of sites to help you get started:
TripAdvisor brands itself as the world’s largest travel site, having gathered more than 225 million reviews and opinions (as of Q1 2015) of over 4.9 million hotels, accommodations, restaurants, and local attractions. If you’re in the hospitality business, claiming your profile and managing reviews on TripAdvisor should be top priority.
To get started, visit https://www.tripadvisor.com/Owners. You can also read this step-by-step guide to claiming your TripAdvisor business listing.
While Yelp is known primarily for reviews of restaurants and shopping (retailers, boutiques, etc.), the site also has a category for reviews of hotels and businesses in the travel segment, making it another important review site on which you should be managing your presence.
Booking.com, an online accommodation booking platform, is part of the Priceline group, one of the most recognizable brands in travel and hospitality. Booking.com offers the best prices for any type of property, from small, family-run bed and breakfasts to executive apartments and five-star luxury suites, while also publishing verified guest reviews to accompany its listings.
Not yet on Booking.com? Register for free at: https://join.booking.com/index.html.
You’ll have to add your property details, photos and payment policies during registration. Once Booking.com confirms your details, your business listing will go live and can start receiving reservations and online reviews immediately.
Another well-recognized travel brand is Expedia, a company that owns several sites, including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire.com, trivago, Egencia (formerly Expedia Corporate Travel), Venere, Expedia Local Expert, Classic Vacations, Expedia CruiseShipCenters and eLong.
Expedia.com, Travelocity, and Hotels.com function as accommodation booking services that also serve up online reviews and ratings for information-seeking travelers.
Establishing your presence in the Expedia marketplace
Signing up your hotel / accommodation on Expedia enables you to benefit from distribution through all of Expedia’s sites (including Hotels.com and Travelocity), as well as 13,000 global affiliate sites. To get started, visit the Expedia Lodging Partner Services at: https://join.expediapartnercentral.com/.
On that page, look for the Contact Us option, which will connect you to an onboarding wizard where you submit your property information, room types, and rate plans. At any point, an Expedia representative may contact you to answer any questions you have.
The wizard will also guide you as you provide other information about your business, such as details and amenities, currency for your rates and invoices, any applicable taxes and fees, and the photos that you want displayed on your listings.
Updating your business information
Already on Expedia? Check your listing regularly to make sure that your business information is correct, complete, and up-to-date.
If there’s something you need to change – say, you need to update the description of your property or replace the old photos with new ones – email email@example.com and include these in your subject line:
- Hotel name, city, state, and country
- Nature of request
Once you’ve sent the E-mail, you’ll hear back from the Expedia Lodging Content team and complete a standardized form for your request.
Search engine giant also hosts local business information and online reviews and ratings on a number of its products, including Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ Local. Hospitality businesses like hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, local attractions, and tour operators can add their listings to gain more visibility on Google. Here’s how to claim your business listing using the Google My Business dashboard.
Gogobot tags itself as “the go-to place for places to go,” where consumers can find places to eat, sleep, and play. What sets Gogobot apart from other travel sites is that it makes recommendations based on the people users trust, and not just a bunch of random anonymous strangers on the Internet. Users are also encouraged to leave reviews and ratings of the places they visit.
To add your business on Gogobot’s database, you’ll have to visit http://www.gogobot.com/ and create your free account. Once you’re signed in, navigate to your passport and look for the Edit Your Passport option.
This will allow you to search for the name of a specific location. If your business does not appear in the search results, you can choose the Add a New Place option and follow the instructions.
Once you’ve found or created the listing, you can add photos, use the Edit Info option to request information changes, and link customers to the page so that they can post reviews of your business.
Spafinder caters to the spa industry by providing a comprehensive resource for spa- and wellness-related products, services, and insights in the marketplace. The site also hosts and supports a network of spa and wellness providers with its gift card, online booking, business listing, and promotional programs.
Each business listing on Spafinder includes basic information such as business description, address, special offers, and customer reviews, some of which are reviews imported from online review site Yelp.
If you’re managing a spa- or wellness-related business and you’re looking to boost your online presence, a page on Spafinder can be a great way to reach potential customers. You can join the site by visiting: http://content.spafinder.com/join-network.
The world’s biggest social networking site is also home to a database of local business reviews – including reviews of businesses in the hospitality segment. Check out this Facebook Reviews guide to get started with managing your Facebook business page and enabling online reviews.
Managing a restaurant? Here’s a list of restaurant reviews and rating sites your business should know about.
Did we miss something? Share your thoughts or add a review site to the list in the comment section below.