When one New York boutique hotel decided to look for alternative ways to boost their online ranking, they had no idea that an unexpected discovery would also help them to reconfigure their notion of a competitive set AND slash unnecessary marketing costs.
“On Booking.com, we seldom found ourselves in the top five pages, and on Expedia and Hotels.com we typically ranked 300 to 400,” Jennifer Rota, Distrikt Hotel’s General Manager, tells us. “Unless you’re a big house with lots of inventory to dump, it’s the back of the line for you.” Or so she thought.
So she continued playing the OTA game by paying commissions and offering discounted rates, but sadly witnessed the hotel’s online position slide further. Despite this, guests were still finding – and booking – Distrikt. How was this possible when the hotel was so deeply buried in ranking no-man’s land?
Following a hunch that travelers were finding Distrikt hotel another way, Jennifer decided to stop paying for review site marketing. “We wanted to know for sure: were we leaving money on the table? We needed to test our theory about how people were finding us in that haystack, so we stopped. Our placement slid further, but our booking pace didn’t miss a beat.”
So how exactly were travelers still finding and booking Distrikt Hotel? After digging a little deeper, the answer revealed itself.
“Travelers were searching by reviews,” Jennifer tells us. “And when they sorted hotels by guest ratings, Distrikt consistently appears on Page One”.
This discovery enabled Jennifer to rethink Distrikt’s entire competitive set, which in turn set the ball rolling to develop new pricing and marketing strategies.
Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising Report underscored what Jennifer discovered for herself. It surveyed 28,000 respondents in 56 countries and an overwhelming 92% said they completely trust recommendations from people they know. 70% also completely trust consumer opinions posted online more than any other advertising source.
Sam Fulton, Senior Vice President of Retail at Orbitz Worldwide, understands the value of earned media: “Hotels with no reviews or a limited number of reviews normally translate into hotels with lower booking volume”, he said during an interview at Orbitz’s HQ.
When it comes to driving your online reputation, earned media (i.e. reviews written by guests with first-hand experience of your hotel) is King. Travelers value each others’ opinions more than ever and, like it or not, peer reviews are now a fundamental driver of your hotel’s online presence.
How can hotels maintain an active and visible presence on review sites?
- Provide the best possible experience on-site
- Focus on driving positive review volume
- Respond to reviews
Provide such an amazing experience for guests that they can’t not talk about your hotel.
Pro-actively request reviews from guests. If you’re not sure how best to approach them, check out our free guide to encouraging reviews at your hotel.
Maintain an active presence on OTAs by engaging with your guests. Respond to reviews, particularly negative ones. Take every opportunity to engage with guests and travelers on review sites and across social media to demonstrate that your hotel values their opinion.
Get our FREE white paper for Distrikt Hotel’s full story and start climbing the review-site rankings today.