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Is Reality Marketing the Future of Online Reputation Management?

In today’s social-media driven climate of online reviews, guest expectation and online reputation management for hotels is fast becoming critical to getting more positive reviews.

Guests arrive a hotel with expectations determined primarily by the information they find online. So how can you make sure to provide an experience that lives up to what they’re led to expect?

Failed Expectations: The #1 cause of negative reviews

A couple arrives at a hotel, ready to settle into the lovely hotel room they booked online. It looks spacious and bright on the website– perhaps they’ll even get that famous New York city skyline showcased in the brochure? But they soon discover the room is dark, with no view – considerably smaller than they were led to believe. The hotel failed to live up to the glossy offerings promised online, leading to feelings of anger and frustration toward the hotel. Quite simply, their expectations were set incorrectly.

The guests turn to online review sites to air their grievances. “Tiny room! A brick wall was blocking our New York skyline view! Poor value for money!” These travelers have become detractors: a dangerous breed of dissatisfied guest. They won’t be returning to your hotel anytime soon, and might even warn others to stay away.

Read more about the three different types of guest.

“The days of misleading photos and fairytale descriptions are over,” says hotel expert, Daniel E. Craig, founder of Reknown. “If you don’t deliver on your promises, guests are going to be disappointed and this will lead to a backlash in negative reviews.” In other words, ensure your hotel can provide exactly what your descriptions lead guests to expect – or you risk damaging your online reputation. This applies not only to your brand website, but to OTA listings, social media profiles, print advertising and brochures.

Painful Authenticity as Expectation Management

Library Hotel Collection is a New York boutique hotel brand that boasts high rankings on top OTAs by consistently impressing guests. VP of Sales and Marketing Adele Gutman sets clear guest expectations through creating transparent and honest online descriptions with photos. Their method works: the Casablanca ranks #1 hotel out of 451 hotels in New York on TripAdvisor.

Casablanca Hotel

The Cozy Classic option is described through its humble features. Owing to its “cozy” size, this room isn’t recommended for longer stays and doesn’t boast a view (one photo is captioned with “No view in the Cozy Classic room”).

This type of “reality marketing” is the next generation of marketing, Craig says. “It almost seems as if the hotel is trying to dissuade people from booking that room, but what they’re doing is very clever: they’re managing expectations by being, as Adele likes to say, ‘painfully authentic’, so guests know exactly what to expect.”

Download our NEW Guide – 8 Best Hotel Practices: Guest Satisfaction 101.