Why Hotel Reputation is More Important Than You Think - and How to Do It
Hotel reputation is the impressions about the hotel and the following conversations that take place. Marketers limit hotel reputation to online reviews, but it’s much more than that. Note the words “Impressions” and “conversations”.
I shake my head when hotels want to remove negative reviews. This is them doing the new “reputation management” thing. They want to apply makeup to look good on the outside with little care about what it really takes to nurture a healthy relationship.
Your reputation forms before a review. It begins at any point of contact someone has with your hotel. It could be from Facebook photos of a friend who stayed at the hotel, the discovery of the hotel on a booking site, or a recommendation in National Geographic like one of our clients Nirvana by the Sea.
Review management is frivolous without systematically incorporating feedback into optimising the traveller’s experience.
You get extra brownie points if you improve before the feedback. It’s vital you get this because online reputation affects all channels. Most bookings from phone, online travel agents, offline travel agents, and direct online are moulded from reputation. According to comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor in 2013, online reviews impact 93% of travellers when booking.
Reputation even affects SEO. I believe hotel reputation has increasing influence on your Google rankings. Since the beginning of search engine time, Google has wanted to make users happy. Positioning a $300 dollar hotel first for “sydney hotel” that delivers a 3-star experience is nonsense when there’s a $200 hotel that delivers a 5-star experience.
Google can deduce how happy people are about your hotel with semantic analysis in their algorithms. With schema markup, which web designers can use to tell search engines “this is the star rating left by this guest”, it’s easy for search engines to accurately see the quality of reviews. Look at what’s freely available to you in your Google Plus:
Where do you start optimising your hotel reputation to maximize revenue? Most hotels can invest their time for maximum impact by creating happy customers and managing reviews. Follow these six steps for hotel reputation management:
- Write down all touch-points a customer has interacting with your hotel so you can visually see their journey. From phone calls, booking confirmation, a reception greeting, your website, and their first foot into the hotel. Detail is your friend.
- Search the hotel name in Google and see all the ways prospects can book and ideally discover you online. Add the links to a spreadsheet.
- How can each touch-point be optimised for the best experience? In regards to your online presence, do you have the best photos, accurate business details, and attractive descriptions on the webpages noted in your spreadsheet? Here are ideas to optimise your website for direct bookings.
- Create a systematic approach to handle online reviews. The most recent reviews are often the first to be seen so quick action in responding can translate into more revenue. You may setup notifications on the OTAs so you’re emailed when a review is left or bookmark all your listings then visit them and respond to reviews each Friday. More advanced hotels can use software like Revinate, setup Google alerts, and IFTTT recipes.
- Be proactive in creating a good reputation with follow up contact to drive reviews.
- Incorporate what you learn from your reputation to deliver a better product and service. If there's a legitimate negative review, respond by apologising and explaining how it's been addressed so future prospects want to book the hotel.