July 16, 2020
By Megan Boley

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, optimizing your site for search, and much more. In other words: Your hotel's online reputation is vitally important to overall business, and staying on top of it can make a significant difference in how your property performs against the competition. 

In this post, we take a deep dive into hotel reputation management as a whole. First, we take a look at some must-know tips for how hotels can optimize their performance across multiple platforms and channels to effectively manage their reputation and gain the attention of guests and planners alike. Then, we explore a few examples of real hotel brands across the world that display top-notch levels of reputation management. 

Discover 6 tips for effective hotel reputation management:

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. Utilize 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.

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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 favorite 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 percent 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 personalized, 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. Optimize your website for search.

Optimizing 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 optimize 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 focusing 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 optimizing 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 touch points 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.

Explore 3 real examples of hotel reputation management:

1. Hyde Suites Midtown Miami's TripAdvisor presence.

Hyde Suites Midtown Miami is ranked No. 1 of 140 hotels in Miami on TripAdvisor and boasts 139 reviews — 134 of which either fall under "excellent" or "very good." But the property doesn't just let those reviews go unnoticed. Staff members, including General Manager Quim Gener, give personalized responses to each review, both good and bad, showcasing a simple but effective form of hotel reputation management.

Example of a positive review and response:

Review: "I had an amazing experience staying at the Hyde Midtown Miami for the month of January. First, the service was excellent. Candy was super friendly and very helpful. Tomas, Jennifer and everyone else were very accommodating. The hotel is modern, clean and the room was awesome. The location is incredible, right in the heart of mid-town. There are great restaurants and stores in every direction and you don't even need a car as everything is walkable. You can easily walk to Wynwood which is quite the arts scene. I highly recommend this hotel and will absolutely stay here whenever I'm in town."

Response: "Good evening eda943,

Thanks for leaving us such a wonderful review. It is such a delight to read how much you had enjoyed our hotel and the service our HYDE Midtown Miami team members were able to provide. We are thrilled that you had a pleasant stay, and all of our team members took such great care of you. We are fortunate to have such a fantastic team here. 
We are glad you enjoyed our unique design in your guestroom with a focus on bringing the outside in and creating a modern retreat from a bustling city. We hope to welcome you back soon!"

Example of a negative review and response:

Review: "The Hyde Hotel is a very nice suite hotel. However it still needs time. It recently opened. However the website does not state that the pool bar only serves beer and wine right now, and has a limited menu. Room service is not 24 hours. It is close to the airport and while sitting at the rooftop bar, there are continuous planes flying loud and overhead. Does not make for relaxing time to catch a drink. Sunset was amazing though. My room was quiet and comfortable, but my co-worker was kept up by the sounds of planes all night. We had to move hotels. The lobby also has an overpowering, but pleasant scent. Also the fire alarms were going off continuously throughout our stay. The neighborhood is quite, has some great little restaurants and shopping, but not everything is open yet."

Response: "Hello Sabrina, 

Thank you for being our guest. Your comments are invaluable to us and we want to express our gratitude for taking a moment to share your experience with us!

I want to explain, not excuse, the challenges of not managing the restaurant that resides on the 7th floor as it’s a separate entity. Us, too, have been affected in the delay of operations, service quality and staff. Satisfying our guest is our priority and we understand the troubles of constantly having to venture out for food options and for that, I’m truly sorry. Rest assured, your comments were shared with the appropriate department heads to remedy this, not only for your return, but for all our future guests. As for the constant fire alarm testing, that is purely done for the safety of our guests. I do sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused.

We appreciate your candid comments and will learn from them to help us improve in the future. 

If you ever find yourself in the Miami area again, please consider us, as well would love to have you back."

2. EcoCamp Patagonia's sustainability campaign.

It's one thing for a hotel to be eco-friendly. It's another thing for a hotel to be eco-friendly while raising climate change awareness at the same time. That's exactly what Chile's EcoCamp Patagonia did with its video, The Eco Secrets Of One Of The World's Most Sustainable Hotels. The 9-minute video complements the rest of the property's content marketing efforts, which highlight everything that it does — and will continue to do — to fight climate change. 

3. The Ritz-Carlton's willingness to adapt.

Hotel reputation management is a long-term, neverending project. Customer needs change, and if a hotel doesn't adapt accordingly, its reputation could falter. Take a look at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, for example. The luxury brand was highlighted in a 2015 Forbes article for its outstanding customer service, and, specifically, its ability to respond to customer feedback and make legitimate changes to companywide operations. 

As the article states, in the mid-2000s, the company started noticing negative customer feedback. 

“We were beginning to get some alarming feedback from guests who felt we were coming off as too robotic," said Diana Oreck, VP, Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

Ritz-Carlton’s VP for Global Brand Marketing, Lisa Holladay, continued: "The good thing about the scripting that we were doing was that it ensured consistency across the board. Unfortunately, what we were finding is that the very consistency itself was coming across as formal and excessively traditional. It was no longer tracking well with a majority of consumers, and especially with our younger guests, who perceived it as inauthentic."

The solution? Act on the feedback. 

"We’ve become intentionally less formal over time," said Ritz-Carlton COO and President Herve Humler. "We focus now on authentic, unscripted conversation and interactions with the customer. In the early days when putting together this hotel company and growing it globally, we scripted almost everything. You’d hear ’my pleasure’ repeated everywhere you went in the hotel because that was part of the script. We have evolved from that today and now encourage our employees to be themselves. To conduct interactions with utmost respect and courtesy, but in a way that is natural to their personality and the warmth of their caring natures."

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 and examples will help! Up next, check out ways your hotel can stay ahead with guest engagement.

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Megan Boley

Megan is a published web writer and editor with a passion for crafting stories. She specializes in planning and creating content across all platforms for brands and organizations, with a focus on demand generation. In her free time, she's a voracious reader and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
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