- Your ranking in review sites
- Your ranking in third-party distribution websites (OTAs)
- Your ranking in search engines’ results pages
- Your reputation: once changes are made, you can purge negative reviews from the system
With so much at stake, how can you legitimately increase the volume of reviews of your hotel? Here are some best practices used by hotel managers to encourage more guest reviews:
Before you ask
Set expectations appropriately. Under-promise, and over-deliver. Avoid setting expectations in your advertising and marketing materials that will be impossible to deliver. The majority of positive guest reviews come when guests are pleasantly surprised by what they receive. Learn from Terry Kane of the Jumeirah Group, who makes a point of avoiding hype and hyperbole in marketing (even though he could).
Create a remarkable experience. Before you ask for an online review, make sure you create an experience worth talking about. “Remarkable” literally means “worth remarking about.” Does your guest experience live up to that? What amenities or features could you offer that would get people talking?
Adele Gutman of HKHotels – which runs some of the most popular guest-reviewed websites in New York, shares this advice:
“You need to WOW them. You need to give them something to talk about. You need to shower your guest with so many magical moments that they they leave the hotel excited and inspired to take the time to want to share their experience with the world. People like to do nice things for nice people.”
How to ask
Explain the process. Sometimes it’s just a case of the guest not being familiar with guest review sites: why they are important to you, and what they have to gain by writing a review. Explain their feedback will be influential in improving the experience for them next time. Explain the steps the person will have to go through to leave a review online.
Make it easy. Remove any obstacles to people reviewing your hotel online. Offering things like free WiFi has shown to increase the volume of reviews, and the most popular guest-reviewed hotels offer free internet access. After all, if someone can’t connect, how can they review you? You might also look into adding a “review our hotel” link on your hotels’ internet landing page that they see after accepting the network terms & conditions. (A note of caution: TripAdvisor and other review sites might flag the reviews as suspicious if all reviews come from the same IP address. So avoid having a hotel computer in the lobby that you ask guests to write reviews from.)
Provide options. People should leave a review wherever it feels most comfortable, and wherever they already have accounts setup. Avoid limiting your request to just one website, which could restrict the overall number of reviews you receive online.
When to ask
During the check-out process. Ask if the guest had a positive experience at your hotel. If they did, encourage them to share that on a review site of their choice. This is perhaps the best time to ask, the positive emotions of their stay will be fresh on their mind.
In followup emails. Most hotels send a thank you email after their guests leave with a message such as “Welcome home, we hope you enjoyed your stay and hope you come back soon.” Consider placing a link to review sites within this message. Or for business travelers, email them the invoice and include a link to review the hotel in there.
When receiving unsolicited feedback. When someone says something positive about your hotel, this is also a great time to direct them to review sites. You need these stories to be told online and benefit others.
In response to positive satisfaction survey responses. If someone leaves you very positive feedback in a survey, don’t let the feedback stay on paper internally. Reach out to the guest by email and ask them to consider sharing their thoughts with others online.