We had such a great response to last week’s webinar we weren’t able to get to everyone’s questions. Here are a few of the most relevant, with answers from our presenters, Josiah Mackenzie and Daniel Edward Craig.
“Reputation management does not have to be only reacting to reviews – it can also be positive, proactively soliciting social media content. Do you agree?” [from John]
Josiah Mackenzie: I completely agree. Later in this article, Daniel talks about the best ways to solicit online reviews, and his suggestions are also very applicable to encouraging user-generated content.
With social media, it’s helpful to understand what motivates people to share content. Think about your own profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What content did you share most recently? I spend all my time working with hotels, but very rarely share hotel-related content on my Facebook profile, for example. Imagine if I was not working in the industry!
There seem to be three primary reasons people share content in social networks:
- To look cool – Status stories where people do the “humble brag” by sharing photos of places they’ve visited or experiences they’ve had.
- To share information – Professionals seeking to build their reputation or personal brand often curate articles and content to position themselves as thought leaders in their field.
- To help others – Something that is especially common in travel-themed consumer communities and on discussion boards.
Well-designed marketing content and guest experiences can spark more social conversations, so consider each of these motivations as you plan.
“What are the main difficulties that smaller hotels face when taking the “team approach to reputation management?” [from Jose]
Daniel Craig: Probably the biggest challenge is time. Also, smaller properties tend to receive fewer reviews, so reviews have a longer shelf life. To make the most of time spent I recommend making managing reviews a priority and then focusing on Facebook and maybe one or two other social networks. It’s better to do a great job at a few things than a mediocre job at many. And take advantage of the tools available for monitoring networks and scheduling messaging.
Josiah Mackenzie: Focus is key. Social media and review analytics are helping hoteliers make smarter decisions on where to focus limited time and resources – moving these choices from guesswork to data-driven decisions. For example, a quick glance at semantic analysis of online feedback for a hotel will reveal both “quick wins” for improving guest satisfaction and also what customers perceive as the unique value proposition. Comparing this insight with the results for that hotel’s competitive set can clarify the most effective marketing messages, and reveal which sites and social networks do the best job of showcasing that messaging.
Your small hotel doesn’t have the 20 social media staffers that a larger brand may have? Your customers probably don’t care. They just want prompt, decisive resolution to the issues they have. If you do not have staff in three locations around the world to provide around-the-clock coverage of Twitter (for example), you may decide to provide basic training to your front desk team who work around the clock so they can address questions and resolve basic issues on the spot, any time of day.
For independent properties, building a sterling online reputation can compensate for a lack of international brand recognition, and move the property from being an unknown quantity to the “safe choice” in the minds of travelers – a shift that plays a key role in driving more direct bookings. It’s well worth the effort.
“How do you get guests to write reviews if review sites aren’t necessarily on their radar? How can you train staff to ask for reviews?” [from Nils and Carlo]
Daniel Craig: Some people simply don’t engage in social media but may recommend your hotel by word-of mouth. Promote your social networks and accolades and let travelers decide whether or not to engage. Exceptional on-property experiences will compel guests to share their experiences with others, and that’s valuable regardless of their preferred mode of communication.
For some hotels and brands it’s against policy to ask guests for reviews. Others feel that the benefits to rankings and positioning justify being more proactive. If your hotel chooses to ask for reviews, I recommend providing staff with a general script and coaching. Making guests feel pressured or uncomfortable could have the opposite result. Keep it simple: “I’m happy to hear you enjoyed your stay. If you would like to share your experience on [review site of choice], it would mean a lot to us.” And then hand them a card with a link to the site.
“The Klout score does not look into the influence of users on travel specific communities (eg, TripAdvisor). How do you address this particular point?” [from Antoine]
Daniel Craig: Klout is merely a way to get a general idea of a person’s influence on social networks—primarily Twitter. Review sites like TripAdvisor, Trivago and Yelp provide profiles of reviewers and how many reviews they’ve written. Frequent reviewers are identified as such and tend to have a greater influence than those who write one or two reviews. Treat every guest as an influential reviewer and you’ll never go wrong.
“What suggestions do you have for maintaining reputation on your company website? Do you suggest posting negative reviews?” [from Jacqueline]
Daniel Craig: By posting reviews on your website, you show confidence in your hotel and you may prevent shoppers from leaving your site in search of reviews. Travelers want reviews they can trust—third-party, unfiltered reviews such as a TripAdvisor feed. The occasional negative review is unlikely to scare them off; in fact, it may be perceived as more authentic. Travelers want to know the whole story, not just the good stuff.
Josiah Mackenzie: For most hotels, the #1 reason people leave their website is to check online reviews to confirm they are making the right decision to book a room at the hotel. At ReviewPro we’re helping our clients prevent that loss of traffic by providing a quality seal that shows the Global Review IndexTM, a benchmark guest satisfaction rating from more than 100 online review sources. Having all this information in one place provides instant reassurance to people ready to make a booking – they can see what other guests have said about the property without leaving your site. Some of our clients are seeing up to 38% improvement in bounce rates after the addition of this widget.
“How are review and reputation analytics being used by revenue managers to maximize yield?” [from Monica]
Josiah Mackenzie: Research by comScore and others has found a direct correlation between customer satisfaction, online reputation, and revenue growth. In fact, according to a study conducted by Four Seasons Hotels on the luxury traveler, 40% of consumers will not book a luxury hotel without the presence of online reviews. The link between online guest satisfaction and financial performance is something I heard over and over again at the NYU International Hotel Investment Conference.
Apart from the very real value of using reputation management as a catalyst to grow revenue – it affects both conversion rates and average daily rates – there’s also the valuable strategy of analyzing guest satisfaction levels by channel, making decisions to optimize global distribution and web presence.
Monitoring international reputation is key for reaching new audiences – since these people may be using different review sites to plan their travel than the ones we are most familiar with.
“What happens when a team member leaves the hotel and their personal profiles on ‘Google+’ & ‘Twitter’, for example, are connected with our guests, partners and suppliers?” [from John]
Daniel Craig: This is a tricky one. As a company you want to personalize social media interaction, but you don’t want employees to “own” your social identities and take followers with them when they leave. In my opinion the hotel’s brand should be the official identity. Personalize it by having staff sign posts with their name or initials. On Twitter, I’ve seen brand profiles include names of staff tweeting to good effect.
“Why do we call it ‘online reputation management’? I prefer the term “reputation management” since it is a more accurate description of online and off-line activity. What your thoughts?” [from Are]
Josiah Mackenzie: It’s a great point, Are, especially since online reputation is in many ways simply an extension and reflection of word-of-mouth already happening offline. This is why comprehensive reputation management is so important. It’s not just an Internet marketing tactic, but all about using online feedback as a barometer for the bigger picture – and a way to make improvements throughout your organization.
About the hosts
A former general manager, Daniel Edward Craig helps hoteliers across the globe adopt the latest tools and best practices in social media and online reputation management. He collaborates with ReviewPro as Industry Advisor in the area of Client Engagement. Visit www.DanielEdwardCraig.com
Josiah Mackenzie is the Director of Business Development at ReviewPro, and is focused on helping hotels increase their sales by using social technologies to provide remarkable service to their guests.