Online reputation can make or break a business, especially in the hospitality industry. According to a TripAdvisor study conducted last year, 81% of the survey respondents always or frequently read reviews before choosing a place to stay, with 78% focusing on recent reviews. As cautious travel consumers slowly begin to venture out again in the wake of COVID-19, online reviews matter now more than ever.
Managing your property’s online reputation is key to recovery during the pandemic and to improving sales going forward. Follow the four steps below to nurture a positive online reputation that brings your hotel more bookings.
1. Set guest expectations
Overpromising and under-delivering only results in dissatisfied guests and negative reviews. That’s why it’s important to set the right expectations from the get-go, starting with an accurate depiction of your property’s stay experience on your website.
While COVID-19 precautions are in place, it is very important to inform customers about your property’s health and safety protocols (such as sanitation procedures, mask-wearing guidelines, social distancing policies and service closures) to both reassure potential guests and to let them know what to expect (and what is expected of them).
In addition to your website, use pre-arrival communications to make customers feel valued, excited and prepared for their upcoming stay. Include information about safety regulations and/or limited services, as well as any special amenities or services available to make their stay more comfortable or enjoyable. Use links to direct customers to further information if needed. Pre-arrival emails can be easily automated through your property management system (PMS) or through PMS integration with CRM solutions. As well, update your TripAdvisor listing with your property’s safety measures using TripAdvisor’s new health and safety checklist.
2. Exceed guest expectations
It’s attention to detail that makes the guest experience a memorable one. Even small gestures can have a big impact on guests and make them feel valued. In order to exceed guest expectations, pay close attention to service delivery, properly training staff and encouraging them to go above and beyond for guest satisfaction. It’s also necessary to equip your team with the tools they need to perform their duties effectively, from good cleaning products to software solutions.
In our current COVID climate, guests’ main concerns and expectations revolve around health and safety, particularly hotel cleanliness and social distancing protocols. Right now, it is essential to get this right—guest satisfaction depends on it. The housekeeping team’s role is critical, so make sure employees are supported with the right training and tools to uphold enhanced housekeeping standards.
Hotel software solutions for contactless check-in and guest communications are also key to delivering the kind of safe (and convenient) guest experience customers want right now. Such mobile applications not only show guests you take their safety seriously, but that you also take your business seriously, utilizing modern technology to improve efficiency and customer service. Use your hotel technology to automate and streamline administrative processes to give you more time to go the extra mile for a memorable guest experience that exceeds expectations.
3. Ask for guest feedback
While review sites provide an outlet for frustrated customers to voice negative experiences, you may be surprised to know that the top reason for writing travel reviews is actually to share positive experiences with fellow travelers, according to the abovementioned TripAdvisor study.
Especially now, as we are all learning to adjust to our new normal together and are making an effort to support local businesses, most travel consumers are happy to share their positive travel experiences and to provide feedback that can help lodging operators fine-tune the guest experience. Now is an ideal time to ask for guest reviews. In fact, it’s more important than ever to generate recent reviews to show potential guests that your property is a safe place to stay in these uncertain times. Automated post-stay communications are an effective way to encourage guests to write a review, by conveniently linking to your property’s listing on your preferred review site. Use your PMS to automatically trigger post-stay emails to guests from the PMS itself or via integration with reputation management software, based on reservation data.
Read our Top Tips for Getting More Online Hotel Reviews for further ideas.
4. Monitor online reviews
A big part of managing a healthy online reputation is monitoring and responding to what guests are saying about your property online—and acting on feedback to improve the guest experience. It’s important to respond to negative reviews and share positive feedback to show customers you care.
Another recent TripAdvisor study reveals that 77% of travelers are more likely to book a hotel when business owners respond to reviews. Follow the advice of our partner BlueJay Reviews on how to respond to negative reviews to turn them into a positive online image.
From Google to TripAdvisor to Booking.com to Facebook, and the hundreds of sites between, hotel guests have no shortage of places to share their experiences online. Manually monitoring your property’s reviews and social media mentions across the World Wide Web every day would be a daunting (if not impossible) task! Automation is key to monitoring online reviews effectively.
Using Google Alerts (a free service), you can set up an alert for your property’s name (or any other search term) and it will inform you whenever new content featuring your property’s name is published on a webpage. Social media management platforms such as Hootsuite (free and paid versions) allow you to automatically monitor social media channels for mentions, schedule posts, engage with followers, manage your social media ad campaigns and access analytics, all from a single dashboard.
Or, consider a dedicated reputation management solution like Revinate, BlueJay Reviews or BirdEye. These powerful platforms bring together all your online reviews and social media mentions, providing a single dashboard from which to respond to reviews across all channels, send feedback requests, manage your social media accounts, and access sentiment analytics to prioritize improvements.
Managing your property’s online reputation is critical to the success of your business, especially now as wary travelers navigate an uncertain world of travel. It’s important to put some time and effort into increasing your property’s online reviews, responding to reviews, and using feedback to improve the guest experience. Your hotel technology can help make this process much easier and more efficient at every step!