Advanced Social Media & Online Reputation Management Webinar – Answers to Your Questions

As a follow-up to our latest webinar, Advanced Social Media and Online Reputation Management for Hotels, here are answers to select questions submitted by attendees from our host presenter, Daniel Edward Craig, founder of Reknown.

Q: How to measure ROI on Social Media for hotel industry?
Q: How much should the social media investment be for a hotel?

Now this was a popular question. Above all social media is an awareness and engagement channel, and it’s difficult – though not impossible – to quantify results. The exception is reviews, which can be measured and benchmarked with the help of a reputation management tool like ReviewPro. Managing reviews is the number one priority because there’s a direct connection to guest satisfaction and revenue.

As for the amount of resources to invest, that will depend on the results you wish to achieve and the resources available. There’s no magic formula. Social media can be time-consuming, so it’s important to be disciplined and to not allow it to distract you from marketing activities that generate higher ROI.

See my recent article on Measuring ROI in Social Media. If you are a ReviewPro client the accompanying webinar is available via the Learning & Support Center.

Q: Which are the best ways to improve my ranking on TripAdvisor?
Another popular question! TripAdvisor doesn’t reveal all the ingredients that go into its popularity index algorithm, but there’s really no mystery here: quality experiences generate positive reviews and ratings.

TripAdvisor does disclose that three factors have the highest influence on rankings: quality, date (the more recent, the greater weight) and volume. So to improve ranking you must generate a steady volume of positive reviews and do it better than other hotels in your destination. How? By consistently exceeding expectations. No sweat, right?

See How to Generate More Reviews, Likes and Followers on the Social Web, the follow-up Q&A blog post, and, for ReviewPro clients, the accompanying webinar in the Learning & Support Center.

Q: Are customers using TripAdvisor as a price check tool as well as a review site? How important is it as a price check?

As I discussed in the webinar, TripAdvisor is getting such a huge volume of traffic and such a targeted audience hotels that aren’t paying for Business Listings (including the mobile option) might want to look again. A compelling Special Offer can drive a significant volume of direct bookings.

My feeling is that most people visit TripAdvisor to read reviews and use online travel agencies to compare pricing and features. A recent Cornell study of booking behavior on Travelocity found that visits to TripAdvisor increase in frequency closer to the time of booking. This suggests that many travelers narrow down choices on OTAs first and then check out reviews to make a final decision.

I’ve spoken to many hotels that have enjoyed strong direct bookings through TripAdvisor’s “Show Prices” cost-per-click program. It’s available to large brands direct or, for independents, through marketing agencies like ReviewPro partners WIHP and HeBS.

Q: How do I raise my rankings for searches in the city in which it’s located?
Now this is a big question and an area of expertise for digital marketing companies like WIHP. Raising search engine rankings takes time, expertise and a good product. In the webinar we discussed how maximizing visibility and online requires a combination of earned, owned and paid media.

Rather than compete on popular, expensive keywords like “Hotels in Paris”, which are dominated by OTAs and big brands, focus on long-tail phrases that play to your unique attributes and location, such as “boutique hotel Montmartre”.

Check out Trends in Hotel Marketing: Social Search, Utility Marketing and Converged Media. Digital marketing agency Buuteeq also has an excellent blog with all sorts of helpful advice on online marketing.

Q: Is having greater number of reviews better for SEO? Even if it is negative feedback, for example?

Reviews now play a role in search results, although we don’t know exactly how or to what extent. Companies used to be able to trick search engines into thinking that any content showed importance and relevance, but search engines have gotten smarter, and sentiment is now part of algorithms. That means negative reviews are not likely to help rankings. And even if they fool algorithms, they won’t fool travelers.

That said, most reviews are housed on review sites like TripAdvisor, and even a widget on your website will not have SEO benefits for your site.

Q: We have four hotels in our group. Would it be better to have a separate Facebook page for each hotel or one for all of them?

I think it’s more effective to have a separate Facebook page for each property, in part because people connect more with individual properties and staff than with brands or hotel groups. There are also advantages for the new Graph Search and Nearby tools, as discussed in the webinar, because many features are location based. That said, administering four pages can be a lot of work. I would only do it if you have the time and resources to do it well.

Q: How to develop social media so that it becomes a team effort that is an extension of who we are in every respect?

An excellent question. It starts from the top, and requires buy-in from all staff. Check out For hotels, winning at the reputation management game means taking a team approach and the follow-up Q&A blog post. ReviewPro clients can access the accompanying webinar in the Learning & Support Center.

Q: Is Facebook becoming oversaturated with advertising and creating a negative perception?

There’s a lot of talk about “Facebook fatigue”, and yes, the advertising is annoying. Yet the network shows no signs of slowing down. Facebook is a public company now and needs to make money, and the greatest potential lies in advertising. Advertising is a reality of any “free” application, but it’s a fine balance between pleasing advertisers and turning off users. Unless a better option comes along, Facebook isn’t likely to disappear soon, and new features like Graph Search, Nearby and targeted advertising options make it much more relevant as a marketing tool for hotels.

Q: Your opinion for placing a booking button on Facebook page?

It won’t hurt to have a Facebook booking widget on Facebook, but don’t expect a lot of direct bookings. People don’t go to Facebook to shop, they go to socialize. That said, Facebook has been working hard to become more of a commercial vehicle for brands. Recently the company appointed a head of travel, Lee McCabe, a sign of the importance of the travel segment.

If you can get a booking widget installed and maintained at a reasonable cost, go for it. But also consider amplifying earned media efforts with paid media by advertising on Facebook. Sponsored Stories, Offers and Custom Audiences are three advertising options worth exploring for hotels.

Q: What are a hotel’s rights when it comes to replying to false guest reviews in order to correct hotel image and restore reputation?

Many reviews sites, including TripAdvisor, Google Places and many OTAs, allow hotels to post a management response and dispute a review. You’ll be required to provide proof and there’s no guarantee the review will be removed, so post a response to respectfully give your side of the situation too.

See ReviewPro’s Guide to Responding to Reviews as well as my article How to Respond to Challenging Reviews. If you’re a ReviewPro client, view the Responding to Reviews webinar via the Learning & Support Center.

Q: Why do you think users prefer mobile optimized booking engines over apps to make reservations? Is it because they don’t want to download and install an app just to book?

In a nutshell, I’d say yes, because the app experience is better than the mobile web experience. Apps are a closed, controlled environment, whereas much of the web is still designed for large desktop screens and therefor a frustrating experience on a smart phone or tablet.

But travelers don’t want to download an app to make a reservation, unless they’re a frequent guest or the app offers other features that save time and money. For this reason, our guest presenter, Vikram Singh of Evision Worldwide, says the priority for most hotels should be a mobile compatible site rather than an app.

Apps offered by OTAs, big brands and sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google Maps are popular because they allow travelers to easily compare features, reviews and rates among hotels. So a key part of managing your mobile presence, says Vikram, is to test multiple devices and to ensure content on popular third-party sites is optimized for mobile.

Special thanks to our expert panelist, Vikram Singh of Evision Worldwide, who can be found on the Words of Vikram blog.

Sign up for the ReviewPro blog to receive notifications of upcoming webinars.