While revenue management relates more to selling your product to the right person at the right time through the best distribution channels, online reviews are a more rudimentary, but equally important link that can’t be ignored. A handful of poor reviews can have massive implications on your business, leading to potential guests to look elsewhere for accommodation. A visible selection of positive reviews on the other hand gives your business an unmistakable hallmark of quality. When managing online reviews, just a few solid tactics can dramatically sharpen your strategy.
1. Ensure your guests enjoy the best possible stay
When it comes to building and maintaining a solid reputation in the hotel and hospitality industry, making sure your guests have the best time possible is paramount. If your guests leave your hotel in a good mood, chances are they’ll leave you a glowing review. Make sure you install a philosophy of striving to go that extra hurdle, especially when it comes to members of staff who directly communicate with guests during their stay. Your team needs to be approachable and communicative. If a guest looks unhappy or despondent, a good team member will show initiative and solve a problem before it becomes a damaging anecdote. Likewise, when a guest requests support, your staff need to deliver a fix as quickly as possible, setting the bar highly when it comes to customer satisfaction.
2. Identify common problems and complaints
Keeping an eye on your online reviews can prove time consuming, but it’s crucial to dedicate this time until you’ve ironed out any problems and left yourself feeling confident you’re acting on everything you need to. Online reviews don’t just help bolster your reputation to prospective guests, they can also be used to identify recurring issues guests aren’t happy out. Look for patterns in feedback and isolate the most commonly complained about issues. This will help you identify weak links in service, whether that’s a shortcoming of your facilities or a lack of performance with your team. If complaints suggest it’s your team that needs work, don’t be afraid of bringing these queries direct to your workforce.
3. Make sure you’re replying to reviews online
One of the biggest things you can do to manage your online reputation is to respond to what’s being said about you on the internet. If a previous guest leaves a bad review, don’t just let this sit and leave it unattended. It’s all about damage limitation, so show you’re a hotel that listens to your guests and respond to them to let them know that firstly, you’ve taken their feedback on board and secondly, that you’ll go above and beyond to rectify any issues. If you think that a review has been left unfairly, don’t be afraid to challenge this, although remain as neutral and professional as possible. Likewise, if you feel that a review has been left by someone who hasn’t stayed at your hotel, or you suspect a touch of espionage from a competitor, consider getting in touch with the web manager of the review site to have the feedback removed. If you’ve been left a particularly positive review, don’t neglect a reply here either. Even if a guest is overjoyed with the service they’ve been treated to, they’ve still gone out of their way to leave you a good review. Show them the same courtesy and take a moment or two to thank them.
4. Encourage guests to leave you reviews online
Not every guest will trawl through endless reviews before they decide whether or not to stay with you, but maintaining a high number of reviews is important. Not only will this demonstrate a high volume of previous guests, it also negates the impact of the occasional bad review. Make sure you’re encouraging guests to leave reviews online, whether that’s with a friendly mention as they check out, or a follow-up email once they’ve returned home or ventured off to their next port of call. Be careful offering incentives to guests for writing a review. This can come across as buying good feedback and can do your reputation more harm than good.
5. Look After Your Listings Pages
Many review websites will allow hotels to manage their own listings pages and where this is the case, it is important that you continually manage them. Always keep contact information up to date, upload photographs and try to keep adding more images over time, so that people are not seeing rooms from years gone by. Taking the time to manage listings pages can make your hotel seem more professional and on the ball.
6. Drop the formality and speak to your guests like real people
If you’re utilising social media and similar channels to communicate with guests, be careful not to sound too corporate and mechanical. Make sure you’re talking to customers as you would do if they were in front of you. You’ll yield a better response from it and guests will feel as though they’ve been treated to the personal touch. A potential customer would rather feel as though they’re staying somewhere that treats the guest as an individual. If you word your communications too rigidly, you’ll sound too corporate and one-size-fits-all.
7. Don’t be afraid to admit to your mistakes
It’s not the end of the world if a guest leaves you a bad review. Rather than panic at the sight of a one or two-star review, consider how you can build upon your mistakes and prevent yourself from ever falling foul of a poor review again. Respond to bad reviews as they arise and make sure you affirm that you’re doing everything within your power to ensure the same issues don’t arise again. At the same time, make sure you actually are making the effort to rectify these problems. The worst thing you could do is profess to changing your ways, only for a disappointed guest to return and experience the same issues a second time. Their next review won’t merely be negative feedback about their service, but an angry response to feeling lied to and duped.
8. Keep reviews visible and at the forefront of your website
On average, more than 65% of customers will refer to online reviews before making a booking with a hotel. Potential guests trust the opinion of fellow travellers so make sure your reviews aren’t hard to find. A customer can always consult a third-party agency to check your reviews, but there’s no better showcase of the best feedback than your own website. Keep your reviews at the forefront of your website with unavoidable displays to constantly remind guests of positive stays by previous guests.
9. Streamline a review and reputation management strategy
Once you’re dealing with a high volume of guests, you’ll need to introduce a reliable way to manage reviews online. Dedicating a member of staff to this can be one way of handling the job, but this can be costly and inefficient. Instead, consider monitoring tools to help manage reviews and trigger alerts to newly added write-ups so you can respond and react to reviews in a timely manner.
When it comes to managing your online reviews and reputation, don’t cut corners. Just a little effort goes a long way, giving your business an extra boost that online marketing alone can’t. What’s more, it’s a cumulative process, becoming more efficient and cost-effective as time goes on.