Hotel reputation management is all about monitoring and influencing how your hotel is perceived online. It involves keeping track of review sites, posting and engaging on social media, and optimising your site for search. Now more than ever, staying on top of your online game is important – for industry recovery and for attracting planners as they source for future events.
Discover 6 tips for effective hotel reputation management:
Your hotel’s online reputation is the first thing planners see when they’re sourcing venues, so it’s vital to make a lasting impression and put your best foot forward. According to the Australia edition of 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report, planners cited venue websites (17%), online sourcing tools (10%), and search engines (23%) as the biggest influences on their sourcing decisions. Let’s take a look at a few tips for how you can optimise your performance across these platforms and others to effectively manage your hotel’s reputation and gain the attention of planners.
#1) STAY ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Social media is the place to showcase your brand visually and give your brand a voice when connecting directly with your followers. With the overwhelming amount of content available on every social media channel, consistency is key to building and maintaining your community of planners and your target audience. Make sure you strike a tone that is on-brand and maintain it across platforms.
Social media platforms can also help build relationships with potential planners and guests. Utilise your profiles to assure guests that your property is safe and you’re abiding by all health and safety guidelines. Your guests look to you as the expert on your hotel, so post updates on what’s going on in your area and how your property has adapted.
Post videos to increase engagement with your audience. Seventy-two percent of customers prefer learning about a product or service through a video, and viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it through a video. Specifically, on Instagram, 75% of users will take action after viewing a brand’s video — like navigating to your website or product checkout. People love getting exclusive, behind-the-scenes looks. Film Q&As with your staff or have your chef walk through some of his favourite recipes. Or, use Instagram Live or Facebook Live to take viewers on the scene at an event and show them how your team assures a socially distant and safe event. Consider partnering with other local businesses or your destination’s CVB to highlight the unique attractions and features of your area.
Making and maintaining these connections with planners and guests will pay off when the time comes for them to choose a hotel or venue — because you’ll be top of mind.
#2) ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE IN REAL-TIME.
Social media is your avenue for building relationships and engaging with planners and guests. Authentic interaction and communication can help you build brand loyalty, which will lead to repeat stays and bookings.
Reply to comments – both negative and positive – and provide answers to any questions as fast as you can. Host Twitter Q&As with your events team and invite planners to ask questions and then tweet out the answers to your followers. If you’re able, consider being available to guests 24/7 on apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to answer their questions or address any concerns. As DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s founder, CEO, and president writes for Hospitality Net, “just being available will provide a huge competitive advantage.”
Adding a live chat to your website is another way to provide instant answers and customer service. According to a Kayako report, nearly 80% of businesses say offering live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. The same report found that over 40% prefer live chat to other means of support.
But speed isn’t everything. Ninety-five per cent of consumers say they prefer slower support if it means the quality of help is higher. So, while customers do value a quick reply, having the right reply is more important. In your live chat or when answering social media comments, make sure you offer personalised, high-quality responses (no canned copy!). Focus on forging a personal connection with each guest or planner. Authenticity and attention to detail will make a huge difference in your hotel’s reputation.
#3) OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE FOR SEARCH.
Optimising your website for search engines is an important part of managing your hotel’s reputation. Ranking high in search means that your website is more likely to be found. According to imForza, 93% of online experiences begin with search engines, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your website stands out.
A few SEO basics to keep in mind:
- Discoverability. Make sure search engines can tell what the subject of the content is and have a logical site and page architecture that’s easy to navigate. Be sure there are no technical issues that will result in slow load times.
- Authority. Post original and engaging content that is relevant to your target audience. This will result in referral links from other websites, which will help boost your authority.
- Relevance. Conduct keyword research and decide what terms you should optimise for. Take into consideration things like the average monthly search volume of the keyword and how difficult it is to rank for that particular term.
Also, if Google perceives that website users have a poor experience on your site, you may not receive as high of a search rank. Focus on things like fast page loads, creating a mobile-friendly site, and having secure pages (HTTPS). Google Lighthouse is a useful tool for auditing your performance and improving the quality of your webpages.
#4) GARNER GOOD REVIEWS.
According to TripAdvisor, 93% of people use online reviews when determining which hotel to book. In the same survey, 53% of people say they won’t book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews. If you’re not focussing on gaining good reviews, you’re missing out on an opportunity to appeal to a large portion of your audience.
Especially with Millennials, user-generated content — like reviews — have a major impact on whether or not they decide to buy something. According to Ipsos, 68% trust peer reviews and 53% are influenced by user-generated content. So, make sure you’re requesting and collecting reviews from previous guests and planners.
Build your hotel’s presence on review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews to show that you’re one of the top-choice hotels for guests and planners alike. Explain to past guests and planners how important reviews are for your hotel. Encourage your on-site staff to ask them for reviews – especially if they’ve made a personal connection. But don’t overstep!
Send follow-up emails to guests and planners that you’ve already worked with and ask them to review your property. Include a link to a survey or your Yelp or TripAdvisor profile. You can also set up a feedback page on your website to collect testimonials and reviews.
Not every review you receive will be a good one, though. Negative comments and reviews are not to be ignored. A swift response will show customers that you care about their experience and want to make it right. A quick reply and making the customer feel heard can help salvage the relationship. Request more information from the reviewer and assure them that you’re investigating the situation and working to improve.
#5) FOCUS ON DIGITAL MARKETING.
The digital landscape is constantly shifting, and it’s important to stay current to make sure you don’t fall behind. During this downturn, focus your message on how you’re doing all you can to help your customers and employees, the steps you’re taking to ensure sanitary conditions, and, if appropriate, any plans you have in place for when economic conditions improve.
To be as effective as possible for your group business, a digital marketing strategy must feature several different channels and types of content:
- Content marketing is all about regularly creating relevant, interesting content to build credibility among planners.
- Email marketing continues to be the bread and butter of a digital strategy, but don’t forget about also optimising your social media profiles, website, and mobile presence to reach more planners.
- Digital advertising can be used to boost awareness of your hotel, support customer loyalty, and highlight time-sensitive messages about your venue.
Visibility and communication are more crucial than ever. Planners want to know your status, so show them an updated, visual story to build confidence. As a part of the Cvent Supplier Network, microsites are an effective way to get your message out to planners looking to source events. Include popular search terms in your clear and relevant content, and make your microsite more engaging with video, images, and social media.
You can use your microsite to:
- Make important announcements to planners.
- Highlight your COVID-19 response strategy and updates.
- Showcase and highlight amenities.
- Leverage video and image carousels.
#6) AVOID NEGATIVE REVIEWS.
An article from Business Insider delves into how the properties of the Library Hotel Collection have consistently managed to rank at the top of TripAdvisor lists. Adele Gutman, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue at Library Hotel Collection, gave some tips for best practices in hotel reputation management. She claims the secret to making it on the first page of TripAdvisor is to avoid negative reviews.
“You have to double up on the good things,” she said in the interview. “If you manage to connect with every single guest, you’ve given yourself an insurance policy against bad reviews because they’re not likely to say something negative about somebody who’s their friend. You have to go over the top so they forget the bad things. I never use phrases like ‘meeting people’s expectations’ or ‘satisfying customers.’ I say ‘sparkling sunshine,’ and our staff gets exactly what I mean.”
To curate this “sparkling sunshine,” she made a list of all the touchpoints between the hotel and the guest and all the opportunities for injecting those interactions with exceptional service. First impressions matter, but a bad last impression is even worse than a bad first impression. Make sure to end every guest’s visit on a good note, Gutman advises.
Make hotel reputation management a priority!
The importance of how your property is perceived can’t be overstated, and we hope that the above tips will help!