You’ve booked your air tickets for that long-awaited holiday and you’re buzzing with excitement already. Now, it’s time for you to decide on your lodging. What are some of the factors that you look out for? Cleanliness? Good customer service? Proximity to local amenities? You can probably find most of this information on the accommodation’s website, but I, for one, do not book my hotel room until I have scrolled through a few well-trusted review sites like TripAdvisor. It is through reading about people’s experiences that I’ll know what to expect, and it also lends more credibility to the hotel’s claims on their own website.
Indeed, when selecting a home away from home, research shows that 83% of TripAdvisor users will “usually” or “always” reference reviews before deciding which hotel to book. Positive reviews can help to contribute to a hotel business’ growth, while on the other hand, negative reviews can destroy a hotel’s reputation (or any other business’ reputation, for that matter).
What can hotels do to tap on review sites for online reputation management?
We have come a long way since the days of traditional advertising, and even then having a brand presence online isn’t enough. It’s really no longer just about creating awareness or promoting your own brand.
If hotels respond to complaints and compliments on their social media pages, why shouldn’t they do the same for those on review sites? Online reviews have grown in popularity and are becoming increasingly important when it comes to consumers’ decisions on choosing one brand over another. Investing time and resources into managing your brand’s reputation on review sites will reap overflowing benefits.
In the hospitality industry where good service and attention to details is highly regarded, Shangri-La Hotel does an excellent job of providing guests with that, even online! In fact, they include online reviews as a part of their marketing strategy and found that customer bookings increase when they respond to reviews within 24 to 48 hours. Indubitably a stellar example for other brands, a visit to Shangri-La Hotel Singapore’s TripAdvisor page shows that their General Manager replies to every review in a timely manner. Each of their replies is also tailored to the individual customer’s experience for that personal touch.
Shangri-La Hotel ensures a timely response to negative feedback on TripAdvisor
Personalised response by Shangri-La Hotel to a glowing review on TripAdvisor
It’s not just a practice for the bigger names; even boutique hotels such as Lloyd’s Inn Singapore and The Warehouse Hotel provide personalised responses to the reviews left on their TripAdvisor pages.
Of course, the first step is to actually provide service that gives the customer a reason to rave, then encourage them to leave a review online. There are several ways to do so - during a recent stay in Taipei, the hotel concierge offered novelty towels as an incentive for guests to review them on TripAdvisor. Or post-trip, I also received an email from the hotel, asking for a review on TripAdvisor.
Online reviews do not just reflect your services on these review sites or sway consumer decisions - did you know they can also influence your SEO? Do a quick search on Google for any hotel and you are bound to see that there will be a few review sites listed on the first page of your Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Such user-generated content is unique and frequently updated, characteristics favoured by Google.
They also tend to contain long-tail keywords when describing the hotel and its services. Hence, if the majority of a hotel’s reviews are positive, the brand will stand to gain in terms of visibility and credibility. What’s more, there is now a pool of positive reviews that can be shared across the brand’s social media platforms or on other marketing materials.
Lastly, but not least, monitor what people are saying about your hotel online. Set up Google Alerts for your important keywords, or use a listening tool like Circus Social for a more in-depth system that tracks and analyses mentions on various platforms. For example, besides finding inspiration from Instagram’s fashion and foodie photos, young people today are turning to Instagram to find out more about their next travel destination.
Been there, done that: getting tips from another traveller on Instagram
Such listening tools allow you to pick up mentions of your brand so you know what shows up for your brand hashtags or common topics discussed around your brand so that you can improve on customers’ pain points or create useful content for them and ultimately, foster better relationships.