Here are 10 easy steps that can be used to manage a hotel’s online reputation:
- Make sure your guests have a good experience
Ensuring guests have a good experience in the first place is the best way to manage reviews. If guests leave your hotel in a happy state, they are more likely to leave you a positive review. Showing them you are approachable if they are not satisfied with something encourages them to solve the issue with you rather than going home unhappy and writing about it online.
- Listen to your guests
Monitor all relevant review sites as well as OTAs where your hotel is represented and know what guests are talking about. Online reviews are not just a nice reputation booster, they can tell you a lot about your daily operations. Identify what guests are talking about: are there recurring patterns, specific departments or issues that are frequently mentioned? Print out the reviews, bring them to staff meetings and learn from them.
- Reply to negative reviews
Showing that you are listening gives potential customers the confidence that you care about customer feedback and will work to improve. In fact, a negative review with a management response can even be worth more than a positive review as it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you deal with difficulties, should they occur.
Note: If you see reviews that are clearly not genuine and could ruin your reputation, consider contacting the review site or OTA and ask to have it removed. Most sites offer such a service, the process may be lengthy and resource consuming however. If this option is not working for you or the site with the review in question does not offer a service like this, you should reply to the review. Mention you have looked into this issue but have not found any record about it. Ask the reviewer to contact you directly.
- Reply to positive reviews occasionally
Hotels taking online reviews seriously are starting to write replies to negative reviews. However, very few positive reviews get a response, even though these people put in the same effort as those writing a negative review, and they do it as a voluntary service to their fellow travelers and to you. Replying to every review may be too time consuming, but you should at least occasionally show you appreciate and recognize these reviews.
- Actively encourage guests to write a review
We have written about the importance of a high volume of reviews in the past. A higher volume of reviews weakens the impact of occasional negative reviews and generally increases consumer trust. Actively encouraging guests to write a review of your hotel helps increase that volume. However, you should refrain from offering incentives for writing reviews. Aside from it possibly being counter effective if the guest feels you are trying to influence them, this is also against the policy of many review sites.
- Do not write your replies in a sales voice
Management replies to reviews are not meant for advertising. In social media channels, users want to talk to humans, not to corporations. Be human. Talk to the customer as you would if they were standing in front of you, at the front desk in your hotel.
- Acknowledge your mistakes. Then fix them.
Have a negative review? Do not ignore it or deny mistakes. Look into the issue, and if you have made errors or your service has not been up to its usual standards that time, acknowledge it in a reply and apologize. Then strive to fix the issue and make sure it will not happen again. You may not be able to make everyone happy all the time, but if there are issues affecting customer satisfaction, you should see the review as an opportunity to improve your product.
- Make your reviews visible
Your customers are your best marketing. Up to 65-85% of consumers (depending on the study) consult online reviews when making travel plans. Potential guests trust their fellow travelers’ opinion more than they trust your corporate website. If you have a solid base of online reviews, you should make them visible. Link to them from your website, mention them in your blog, or use a tool like ReviewPro’s Quality Seal to display them directly on your website.
- Manage your listing page where possible
While you cannot (and should not) influence reviews themselves, you can make sure your hotel is presented as good as possible on review sites by taking advantage of the owner services many sites offer. TripAdvisor, for example, allows hotel owners to update and verify their data and to upload photos of their property.
- Manage reviews proactively and systematically
Taking an occasional look at a few review websites and OTAs may be a first step, but it is time consuming and inefficient. Develop a strategic plan that will help you monitor and manage reviews in an efficient and effective way, allowing you to benefit from reviews both for your online reputation as well as for your daily operations. Consider using a monitoring tool to manage reviews and take advantage of daily alerts offered by these tools to help you monitor new incoming activity.