According to a survey, when a customer is given an option between two similar properties, 79% prefer choosing one with a higher star rating.
That’s the impact your reputation has on your potential customers, making reputation management a must for every hotel.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently
Irrespective of whether you own a vacation rental or a hotel, these lines ring true in the digital landscape. In a world where every customer is a critic, where hotels strive hard to earn that extra star rating from the customers, controlling your online reputation is more necessary than ever.
Plus according to research, when hotels increase their review score by 1-point on a scale of 5, the hotel can increase the price by 11.2%. This should encourage you to start giving importance to reputation management.
What is reputation management?
“No matter how strong your products, they’re only as good as buyers think they are” – MrWhatman.
Reread these lines every time you’re apprehensive about the importance of reputation management for your hotel. Reputation management is nothing but a practice of shaping your hotel’s public or customer perception by influencing, controlling, and improving online information. It helps in improving how others perceive your brand.
Hotel reputation management involves:
- Keeping track of review sites
- Posting engaging content on social media
- Optimizing your website for search, among other things
In the simplest form, reputation management involves three basic steps:
You need first to build your hotel’s reputation online. If you’re new to the hospitality sector, this would include creating profiles on different review platforms, social media platforms and encouraging customers to leave reviews. If you’re a business hotel, build your reputation in that industry instead of positioning yourself as a bread and breakfast hotel.
The next step involves monitoring and maintaining your reputation, which you developed in the first step. Monitoring is essential because unless you know what people are saying about your brand, you cannot respond. What you monitor solely depends on where your brand is present.
Do people talk on social media, review forums, or other OTA booking platforms? Missing out on any place could be detrimental to your hotel’s reputation because customers may be complaining, and you fail to take any action. This could pinch your reputation beyond repair.
After knowing where people are talking about your hotel, it’s time to take active measures to develop a positive reputation. It would help if you improved upon what people are saying. The best way to respond and recover a spoiled reputation is to press down negative press and respond quickly to all reviews, whether positive or negative.
4 Ways to Hotel Reputation Management
Even though your hotel is physical, its reputation is digital and online. Here are four ways to manage your hotel’s reputation:
Use software for managing your reputation
With hundreds of hotel review sites online, your guests could post about their experience with your hotel anywhere.
Tracking and managing these reviews is an uphill battle. That’s where reputation management software comes in. This software aggregates reviews and customer feedback from the web. This helps you read, react and respond to the feedback in a timely and efficient manner.
Hoteliers who monitor and respond to what customers are saying on social media and review sites are the ones who are successful.
For example, suppose common feedback on review sites is that the check-out process was tedious as it took more than 1-2 hours for your customer service desk to respond. In that case, the operations team at your hotel could take the feedback positively and ensure to rectify such a mistake. Furthermore, this software will help you decode the most relevant and popular review sources for your hotel.
Using a hotel reputation management tool, you can quickly identify your hotel’s most preferred and least preferred service. For example, if your spa services are a hit among customers, you can plan to introduce new massages to capitalize on their popularity.
- Benefits of online reputation management software
- Driving direct bookings to your website
- Enhancing guest satisfaction
- Increasing revenue
- Performs sentimental analysis
- Conducts competitor analysis
- Translates review in your language
- Help flaunting your best reviews
Watch out for negative reviews
If your hotel enjoys a good name and has a higher star rating, negative reviews can backfire and adversely affect your reputation. Instead of panicking about a negative review’s possible consequences, take the review in a positive light. Always remember that it’s impossible to make every guest happy. Even a tiny lapse on your part is enough to irk a customer. One negative review doesn’t degrade your hotel’s name if you tackle it tactfully.
As reviews are listed in reverse chronological order, the newest review first, a negative review, causes more harm when it’s new. A swift response showcases your eagerness to make things right and sends a message that you value every customer. Instead of being aggressive, apologize for the poor experience, and propose changes you plan to implement to ensure such instances do not repeat.
With 64% of guests agreeing that they don’t prefer booking hotels that respond aggressively to a bad review, being polite is the key to ensure a silver lining even in a negative online review.
You can also try taking the conversation offline or in a private chat to prevent further damage to your reputation.
Encourage guests to leave feedback.
Have you ever noticed that Amazon sends an automated feedback form after every purchase? It’s a great way to collect feedback. As a hotelier, you can replicate the same review-seeking model.
Send automated feedback forms or encourage guests to leave feedback after check-out. The key here is explaining to your customers the importance of feedback. With 96% of users consider reading reviews as the backbone for making travel-related decisions, hotels cannot ignore the importance of reviews.
When a customer is happy with your hotel’s services and enjoys their stay, a few moments to post about their experience isn’t a burden. To capitalize upon the power of reviews, many hoteliers offer something small like a cup of coffee or a free cookie in exchange for sharing a review.
You can even send follow-up emails to event planners and guests to capture their experience. However, remember to share your Yelp or TripAdvisor profile link so that without wasting time, the guest can leave a review.
The rule here is simple, the more positive reviews you get, the higher the chances to see a ‘sold-out’ board outside your hotel.
Use social listening tools
Apart from tracking reviews using reputation management software, it’s essential to listen to what people are talking about your brand in their conversations. With social media becoming a strong influencer in deciding the travel plan, a social media listening tool ensures you don’t miss out on a single conversation about your brand.
Social listening is not about how many comments a post about your hotel receives; it’s more about the sentiments that trigger those comments. Today, the entire hospitality sector can use social listening and monitoring to identify trends and capitalize on them.
Social listening, when done effectively, improves performance and shapes up a winning marketing strategy that ensures footfall in your hotel. It also helps you give insights into what travelers are looking for.
Using these insights, you can craft persuasive marketing messages to increase your occupancy rate. Furthermore, social listening helps create content that resonates with your target audience, opens up new opportunities to increase occupancy rate, and solves customer issues. All this collectively improves the hotel’s reputation.
- Benefits of social media listening
- Measure your hotel’s performance against competitors
- Refine your positioning
- Increases and maintains positive hotel reputation
- Open opportunities to connect with customers and partners
- Increase occupancy rate
- Help ineffective budget allocation
Jump on the reputation management bandwagon
Success mantra for 2021: Hotel reputation management is a never-ending project and requires continuous efforts from your side. With the ever-changing customer needs, hoteliers must adjust to the change. Otherwise, the reputation will falter.
Today, reputation management is no longer limited to a revenue strategy; it’s gaining and maintaining competitiveness in the market. Collecting, reviewing, responding, and distributing your online reviews helps increase your visibility across different social media platforms, booking platforms, and review portals.
It’s your hotel, and you have to ensure it remains the top priority for travelers. Reputation management is a go-getter and will help your hotel increase its occupancy level over a long time!
If you start implementing these four tactics, you’re on the road to creating a community where a customer prefers your hotel over others. Like your guests, reputation management is a valuable asset that will reap results 24/7 throughout the year.