Have you ever asked yourself what guests will find out about your property when they search online? The guest journey is cyclical and guest reviews published by guests who have left your property will inspire your next guests who have just embarked on their journey by researching their next destination. Read here everything a hotelier should know about hotel reputation management, to improve your online performance and boost revenue.
Why does Hotel Reputation Management Matter?
When we asked hoteliers how important their hotel’s online reputation was, 96% recognized its importance, of which 72% thought it was very important. It shows that online reputation management is on a hotelier’s mind, even in times of crisis. As it should be!
When traveling to new destinations we rely on the internet to inform us about where to stay, what to do, and how to get there. Think of online guest reviews as your shop’s window. While searching online for accommodation, your online reputation will often be the deciding factor as to whether to choose your property or not. So, a good hotel online reputation means that you will increase your rankings, get more bookings, and ultimately increase your revenue.
How Can I Improve my Hotel Online Reputation?
Improving your hotel’s online reputation is a continuous process and requires you to be perceptive, reactive, and proactive. Guest expectations change over time and so does the experience at your hotel. You cannot stop tracking your online performance and not actively work on it, as very quickly your scores will drop and competition will outshine you. It is no easy task, but there are a few best practices we can share that will boost your online performance.
1. Have a Clear Hotel Reputation Management Strategy
As with any difficult task, you need a good and clear strategy, where everyone knows what is expected of them and why. How to set up a good online reputation management strategy?
- Set Clear KPIs: set clear goals for the staff in charge of your online reputation, so everyone knows what they’re working towards and by when they should reach those goals. But be realistic! Unrealistic goals will have the opposite effect and will demotivate your team.
- Regular Reporting: this will help to keep your team’s focus sharp, as well as give you time to step in when you see your current strategy isn’t working and adjust where needed.
- Set Alerts: have the relevant people alerted when reviews come in and ensure no review goes unnoticed. This way everyone can take the necessary next steps: your guest relations team can respond to them, and your hotel staff can take notes of improvement in case it is negative feedback.
- Create Guest-Centric Culture: the more people involved, the better! Make your team obsessed with guest feedback and make sure reviews get responded to in time, that everyone takes notes of what can be improved, and that the necessary fixes are being made.
2. Know Your Areas of Improvement… and Fix Them!
Guest reviews aren’t just valuable to boost your online rankings, they are gold mines to understand how guests feel at your property. Analyze them well to understand what your areas of improvement are, so you can prioritize those that will impact the guest experience the most. By improving your guest experience, your online reputation will soon follow.
Showing your guests that you listen to their feedback will be appreciated by them and increase their interest in coming back.
3. Show Off What You Do Best
Feedback doesn’t only help you to know what you don’t do well; it also helps you understand where you excel. These things can be extra highlighted on your website and in your marketing campaigns. For example, publish some of your best guest reviews on your website, especially highlighting current trends like cleanliness, hygiene, or technology. This can help you optimize your website for direct bookings.
It is important to regularly check your strong points, as guest expectations can change, especially after a recent crisis like the pandemic. For example, a high-touch experience might have been well-regarded in the past, but now some markets might prefer a low-touch experience.
4. Hotel Competitor Benchmarking
Once you know your strong points and your areas of improvement, you can compare them to your competitors. This will help you to understand what your unique selling points are. These are especially interesting to push on OTAs as travelers who browse them usually compare several establishments before settling onto a definitive decision.
It can also help you to decide which improvements to push as they can give you a competitive edge. For example, if a lot of your competitors receive bad reviews about limited breakfast options, you can extend yours to outperform them and advertise it widely.
5. Respond to Reviews
Another way to improve your hotel’s online reputation is by responding to online reviews. It shows you’re looking at your guests’ feedback and that you’re committed to guest satisfaction. Guest reviews are not a one-way flow of information, but also offer an opportunity for hotels to share information with future guests about their property. For example, if anyone mentions something about good food, in your response you can highlight some nice features of your restaurants.
Especially now with COVID-19 still lingering, future travelers will be looking for confirmation on how matters like hygiene and social distancing are handled. Use review responses as a platform to highlight the measures you have taken to keep your guests safe.
How to Respond to Guest Reviews?
A thoughtful response can show future guests how you are continuously bettering your procedures and operational processes, putting the guests’ needs and expectations first. This will help to make your brand appear more trustworthy.
But responding to reviews is not always easy and takes up a lot of time for many hoteliers. So, how best to manage guest review responses?
How to Respond to Negative Hotel Reviews?
Rule number one when it comes to negative hotel reviews is to not take it too personally. Everyone has different experiences and a negative review can offer you a lot of valuable feedback. Listen to what your guests have to say, take note, and respond. A few things to keep in mind when responding to a negative hotel review:
- Be fast: time is key when responding to reviews and a hotel review response should be published ideally within 72 hours. Prospects won’t look at reviews on page 6, they will only glance at the ones on the top page.
- Be grateful: thank your guests for their review, even if it is a negative one. Show them and your future guests that you are appreciative of constructive criticism.
- Be personal: address the guest by name if possible and steer away from templated or robotic responses. You can use templates, but make sure they are adapted to each review to sound sincere, or you might achieve an opposite effect and come across as disingenuous.
- Be empathetic: don’t get defensive but show understanding for their experience and apologize if needed
- Show you care: if the issue mentioned in their review has been fixed, let them know, so future guests aren’t stopped from booking with you because of a fixed issue. If it’s not fixed, let them know what steps you will undertake to improve.
Should I respond to Positive Reviews?
Responding to positive reviews is also important, as it is an opportunity for you to show appreciation of your guest’s feedback and a way for you to highlight those things mentioned by your guest. For example, if you have just implemented new check-in technology, and a guest positively mentions it, you can highlight again in your response the efforts you make to keep up with guest needs.
What to Look For in a Hotel Reputation Management Tool?
To be on top of your hotel’s online reputation, you need a good hotel reputation management tool. With hundreds of OTAs and review sites in different languages, each with different scores, it is difficult to understand how you are performing. This is why an online reputation management tool is vital. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at hotel reputation management software:
- A 360º approach for guest feedback: to comprehend the guest experience at your property you need to collect feedback at all stages of the guest journey through both surveys and reviews. For that a platform that will let you compare all these results from one central dashboard is key.
- Flexible reporting: to ensure active participation of your employees, you need to make sure they only have access to the relevant information for them, so they do not always need to plow through the noise and other irrelevant data
- A response integration: integrating your hotel reputation management tool with a response integration will increase efficiency and speed when responding to guest reviews. From the same platform, staff can respond to several sources like Google and Booking with just a few clicks.
- Detailed qualitative insights: a good hotel reputation management software will let you dig into the nitty-gritty details through a qualitative analysis of what is being said, so you can pinpoint your issues.
- Hotel competitor benchmarking: to be on top of your hotel’s online reputation you need to benchmark your results against those of your competitors. This means not only in the overall score but also in important categories like service, cleanliness, food & beverage, etc.
Find out more about ReviewPro’s Online Reputation Management solution: