Guest post by Daniel E. Craig, Founder of Reknown
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 2015, outranking renovations, marketing, staff training and technology (TripBarometer, 2015).
But not every hotel is clear on the best approach to managing reputation. By taking an organized, hotel-wide approach, you can reap the benefits and avoid pitfalls such as missed opportunities, negative reviews and wasted time.
To help you stay focused, here are 10 essential steps to managing your hotel’s online reputation:
1. Understand the importance of online reputation management
Reputation management is the process of monitoring, managing and acting on feedback in online reviews and using it to drive higher awareness, guest satisfaction and revenue. As more travelers turn to reviews as part of trip planning and sharing, a positive reputation is critical to the success of hotels.
2. 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).
3. Take a team approach
Share your reputation vision, objectives and strategies with staff, and ensure that they understand their role in fulfilling them.
4. Be prepared
The most important part of online reputation management takes place on property. Put a social media policy and guidelines in place to ensure that employees know where they stand and understand the risks of mistreating guests. Train and empower staff to exceed guest expectations and prevent on-property issues from escalating to online complaints.
5. Optimize your online presence
Claim and update your profiles on key review sources like TripAdvisor, Google Business, Yelp and online travel agencies. Add descriptions, imagery and contact information, and ensure content is kept accurate and current over time.
6. Set up 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.
7. Analyze feedback
Pay close attention to comments in reviews and look for patterns that need attention as well as strengths to leverage in marketing communications as key differentiators from competitors. Combine feedback in guest reviews with feedback in internal guest surveys to get a 360-degree view of guest satisfaction.
8. Take action
Share feedback with staff and use it as a constructive learning tool. Review policies and procedures, taking the actions necessary to fix problems, to prevent complaints from recurring, and to generate a steady stream of positive reviews.
9. Recognize 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.
10. Respond to reviews
Responding is an opportunity to show that you’re listening and you care about guest feedback, to change perceptions and to reassure prospective guests. Prioritize reviews that call for an apology, a clarification or a show of gratitude. Thank the guest, apologize if something went wrong, and say how you’re following up.
Integrate these steps into the daily operations and culture of your hotel, and you will increase guest satisfaction, earn better reviews and attract more travelers, thereby helping to ensure the long-term success for your hotel.
ReviewPro can help at every step of the online reputation management process. We aggregate reviews and ratings from 142 review sources, use the Global Review Index TM to benchmark performance, and help you to analyze reviews and identify opportunities to increase guest satisfaction and stay ahead of the competition.