In recent years, online reputation management for hotels has emerged as a critical function; a means of measuring guest satisfaction, guiding improvements, and attracting more bookings. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey of over 10,000 hospitality businesses worldwide, online reputation management is the top investment priority in 2018, outranking renovations, marketing, staff training, and technology. But not every hotel is clear on the best approach to managing reputation. By taking an organized, hotel-wide approach, your hotel can reap the benefits and avoid pitfalls such as missed opportunities, negative reviews, and wasted time.
It’s frustrating not being able to control what people say about your property. Saying the truth, in the past, the damage was minimal. One disgruntled guest could impact only a handful of people. Today, one disgruntled guest can ruin your entire gamut of business! All it takes is one viral video showing bedbugs at your property, and your business is forever harmed. It’s important to go online and check up on your business’ reputation, to see what people are saying about it. It is tricky to know where to begin and sometimes it takes more than usual time, effort, and energy to come up with ideas that can boost your hotel’s online reputation.
There’s a ton of information available to buyers these days. It doesn’t matter the industry, there are reviews, guides, and walkthrough videos to help consumers make decisions. So reputation management is important for most businesses. Unfortunately for travel agents, we don’t rely on expert opinions to book travel anymore. Before the Internet, nobody would have traveled to parts unknown without their trusty Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. And a good review in one of these publications would keep your hotel’s reputation safe for years.
Now, everyone‘s reviewing, all the time! Sites like Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Yelp have made it easy to rate your latest night’s stay. And these reviews are an integral part of a guest journey. Before, expert reviews were crucial, but they were mostly separate from the customer’s buying process. Today, a guest read reviews and book your accommodation at the same time. In today’s world where consumers are more empowered than ever (thank you, technology) and can 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. Saying all these, now let us see how to manage online reputation for hotels (including chain and independent hotels).
1. Set reputation objectives and strategies: Set a vision of what you want guests to say about your hotel after they leave. Analyze your ratings and rankings on key review sites, and decide where you should be (objectives) and how you will get there (strategies).
2. Respond to negative reviews: It’s never nice when someone slams your business in public. A few seconds for them can turn into an ongoing headache for you and your team. And the reviewer either doesn’t care, or actually wants to cause you harm. While it’s tempting to return fire, there are actually positive things you can do improve the worst reviews. And it starts with a quick response.
Brand reputation experts Reputology on a blog mentioned that response time is one of the most important factors in improving a bad review. Customers want to feel heard – especially the angry ones – and sometimes a friendly message is all it takes. But it needs to be timely, otherwise they’re never going to change their review.
3. Engage on social media: Social media has become a core marketing strategy for hoteliers and is an effective way to build engagement, staying in the minds of potential guests. While you can have a friendly persona on social media platforms it’s typically best to keep it professional, viewing it as an extension of your other customer service aspects.
4. Turn on your Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a tool that notifies you when someone in the world publishes news about your brand. You can use this tool to discover reviews and ratings to moment they’re published. Go to Google Alerts, and create a new alert for the name of your business. Google will now email you when they discover someone talking about you. This allows you to quickly respond to negative reviews and false information, to mitigate damage.
This is something someone at your property must do. You can do it, or your marketing lead. Not only can you use Google Alerts to manage your online reputation, but you can use it to monitor your competitors’. Set up alerts for your competitors’ brand names to discover exactly when the media mentions them. You can reach out to these places and ask that they cover your property too. Google Alerts can help you learn when your competitors list inventory with niche OTAs or directories.
5. Utilize monitoring tools: With so much chatter in social media, it’s virtually impossible to keep up. To ensure that you don’t miss a thing, set up alerts on review sites and social networks to be notified of reviews and mentions of your hotel. Appoint a gatekeeper to monitor reviews and distribute them to appropriate staff. A reputation management tool will help to automate this process.
6. R for Recognition and Reward: Provide employees with regular updates on progress toward achieving reputation objectives. Incentivize and reward staff and managers for achieving objectives, recognize them for positive feedback, and celebrate your successes.
7. Never forget to refresh listings: Refresh your listings – When you come across a listing for any business that’s outdated it can be frustrating and off putting. Regularly go through the online listings for your hotels to ensure it has fresh pictures, data, and more. It’ll show that you’re a business that take a proactive approach.
8. Be available where your guests are already present: 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.