Have you ever thought about why your hotel’s reputation matters so much? Travelers are leaving reviews left and right about their experience at various hotels. Many will post photos and videos while they are there. And, that media will most certainly influence the prospect for bookings from other travelers.
Taking into account the significance of reviews and reputation management will give hoteliers a better idea of revenue generation. A positive reputation will speak volumes about your property.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos
To really delve into hotel reputation management, you must step into the shoes of your guests. They are scouring various sites to not only find the best travel deals, but they also want to know what other guests had to say about your hotel. In fact, 90% of travelers base their reservations on positive reviews. This further cements the need to manage your reputation and to request reviews.
Put it this way: When a hotel has a mix of positive and negative reviews, travelers will look at other sites to verify. They understand that some guests will leave unwarranted negative reviews, so they will make sure they understand the big picture by reading reviews on several sites.
Don’t let strangers ruin your reputation
No one knows your hotel better than you do, why leave it in the hands of strangers? It is your responsibility to lead the narrative so that you convey professionalism and an honest reflection of your organization. If you just ignore your reputation management then imaginations can run wild and there is now way to tell what might be said about your property or how it will influence occupancy rates.
Since travelers are booking online, they’re also reading reviews online. Moreover, they probably won’t feel safe booking with a property that has zero reviews. What your guests say about your property will influence future reservations.
We live in the age of a consumer-driven market and user-generated content. If managed properly, your hotel can benefit greatly.
What about revenue? When you have a high percentage of good reviews, you can expect a higher demand. In contrast, negative reviews can shred your good reputation. Therefore, your overall marketing strategy should include reputation management. Travelers don’t just look at the overall reviews, they also look at reviews on cleanliness, location, comfort, and more.
Hotel reputation management will add to your bottom line. A Cornell University study found that if a property sees a one-point increase in review scores, from a five-point scale, that it can maintain the same occupancy percentages while raising rates 11%. And, research from TrustYou found that 76% of travelers would pay more for a hotel with better reviews.
So, what can you do to improve your reputation?
It’s really simple: Give your guests the attention they deserve. The customer experience begins at booking. You should be asking for feedback while they are there because then you will have the necessary time to address any anomalies. If you have return guests, make sure they have the chance to stay in their favorite room and have the amenities they prefer.
As much as possible, give every guest the VIP treatment. A happy guest will tell the world about their great stay at your hotel. These are the types of testimonials that positively affect your bottom line. With great reviews, your hotel will remain busy regardless of the season.
Monitor review sites and social media
There are many user-friendly tools you can use that will send alerts at any time your hotel is mentioned or reviewed. You don’t want to miss any of it, but of course this will take a lot of time. If necessary, delegate a team member to monitor the reviews and distribute them to associated employees.
Always respond to reviews
Some hotels make the common mistake of only responding to reviews on the most popular review site. Of course, this is crucial, but there are other sites that travelers visit such as Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, OpenTable, and more.
A lack of response, especially to a negative review, can impact your occupancy rates. So then, focus on all the review channels and try to stay on top of at least five of them. But, also pick two or three to really focus on improving your reputation.
Create reputation goals
You need a guide to get where you want to go, and your reputation objectives are the guide. Think of your vision of what types of reviews you want your guests to leave. Then, review your current ratings on various review sites. Next, decide upon strategic goals and what you need to do on your side to get there.
Ask for reviews
Let your guests know that you would like a review. Better yet, explain why reviews matter to your hotel so much. Train your employees to ask for reviews, as well as how to connect and engage with your guests. When guests get the sense that you are invested in getting reviews, they will often make the time to leave one – especially if they had a good stay.
Then, post the good reviews on your website. Remember, even if you have an engaging and attractive website, travelers still prefer to read first-hand experiences from other travelers on review sites. As such, it is critical to collect your good reviews and to respond promptly to any bad reviews.
“All you have in business is your reputation – so it’s very important that you keep your word.” Richard Branson
Automate your feedback surveys
While your property is still fresh in your guests’ minds, you want to know how it was for them. When you ask for feedback directly, you will garner more reviews as people are more inclined to respond when requested to do so. Plus, if you automate your surveys upon checkout – you don’t even have to worry about remembering to send them. But, this isn’t the review – yet.
Before directly asking for a guest review, send a brief feedback survey to gauge how happy your guests are with their stay. Taking this step does two things: it allows your guests to provide honest feedback, and 2: it gives you and your staff the opportunity to address any unsatisfactory experience before the guest leaves the feedback in an online review.
Now, before you ask for a review, start with a quick survey to ask about their recent stay. By taking these steps, you give your guests the freedom to offer their unbiased response. If they respond with an unsatisfactory rating, then address it immediately with them.
As a result, you can expect a more positive review along the lines of something similar to this, “I was unhappy with the long check out lines and one of the restaurants was closed while I was there. But, when I let the management know about it, they told me how they will fix the issue in the future, they also refunded my resort fees and offered a free night on my next reservation which made me happy.”
Sounds much better, right? There isn’t a perfect property, but being proactive can go a long way in preserving a good reputation.
Post your best reviews on social media
We live in a world where social media is where everyone feels free to interact. Your social media presence can be used successfully to improve your reputation. Outside of constantly posting content and hotel visuals, make sure to post your most favorable testimonials and reviews. This is where word-of-mouth comes into play. Not only is this free advertising for your hotel, but it is highly effective.
Publish only your best property photos
You want to present your hotel in a way that conveys the message of high quality, hospitality, friendliness, warmth, and cleanliness. Make sure the lighting is good and the images are clear and bright. Travelers will rarely take a chance on a property without any photos or with dark images.
Don’t get defensive
If you feel like the bad review was unfair, maybe it is time to step away from it for a while to regain composure. There is nothing worse than reading a defensive response from an angry hotel manager or owner. Viewers will see this as quite inhospitable. If you can’t find a way to respond diplomatically, then wait until you can. You want to respond as often as possible, but you don’t want to respond unless you can be professional about it.
Look at negative reviews as an opportunity for learning, turn it into a lesson for your team. There are times when not every guest will leave happy. Further, some guests have unrealistic expectations – but, that does not matter in the end. You can still turn any negative situation around with a polite and prompt response.
Show that you are taking every measure to address the problem. Remember, other viewers will be reading your response. You don’t want to regret a response you made in haste or when you felt emotional about it. Maintaining a professional demeanor can go a long way with effective reputation management.
Also, it’s better to respond than to lead with an eerie quiet. When your guests leave their online reviews regarding a negative experience, you have the choice to leave them be. Alternatively, you can respond – diplomatically – so that viewers get to read the full story. Plus, when you ignore negative reviews, it simply allows for the readers’ imaginations to run wild. Instead, try to get the story under control – with tact.
Take time to review your hotel’s reputation progression
Reputation management is not a one-and-done situation. For some establishments, it can take months of work before improvements start to manifest. In some cases, the battle can seem quite challenging. The point is to be persistent and consistent. You have to be your own cheerleader. Recognize every small improvement and 5-star review. And, keep track of the following: .
- Your ratings on online review sites
- How many reviews are posted monthly
- Your average rate of response
- Your overall online rankings
The most common positive experiences and negative reviews (What do your customers complain about the most? Can you address and fix this issue?)
When you gauge the list above, you will then have a clearer picture of your hotel’s reputation. Look at the most common complaints, and fix the problem/s. Then, focus on your strongest aspects. Find the reasons behind the negative reviews so that you can prevent repetition. And, set a response rate objective and make sure your team reaches that goal.
Keep working on your reputation
Make sure your staff knows what your plan is regarding reputation management – you want everyone to be on the same page to ensure a consistent outcome. When you receive feedback – good or bad – share it with your employees. Go over your current policies and processes, and make modifications where necessary to alleviate the potential for customer complaints.
Show employee appreciation through recognition and rewards
One way to incentivize your employees for providing excellent customer service is to reward them for positive reviews and for achieving your guest experience goals. Keep them in the loop with updates on your reputation progression. You will notice your employees will feel more engaged and even more motivated to make positive contributions.
In the digital era, every decision we make is guided by technology and masses of data. In fact, the hospitality sector has been completely transformed by the connectivity of the Internet, applications, and our smart devices. In previous decades, paper guides and maps were the reliable method of choice for navigating through our trips and vacations.
Today, we’ve got a wide variety of travel apps available right on our devices and review sites have become a must-view for every traveler before embarking on travel. In an age where everyone has the opportunity to leave their critique, taking control of your reputation has never been more crucial.
When you take the right steps towards managing your hotel’s reputation, you then have more time to focus on ensuring the best guest experience – an experience your customers will positively review.