Let’s say you have a small hotel business. It is doing well and has loyal customers in your locality. However, the holiday season is around the corner and you want to attract customers from far and wide. Now, how can you increase your hotel’s popularity within a few weeks’ time? You might think of spreading the word online. But with the increase in fake hotel listings and spam reviews, how can you stay authentic?
That, my friend, is where online reputation management comes in. In simple terms, it’s about building a strong brand presence that is authentic and reliable.
What is online reputation management?
In a nutshell, it refers to maintaining a trustworthy and positive feedback of your hotel in the digital world. It includes positive reviews on social platforms, featured articles on e-magazines, recommendations by well-known names in the industry, high ratings on OTAs (online travel agencies), etc.
So, how does it help my hotel?
Think of it this way. You are a traveller looking to explore a new place in a new city. Budget, safety and amenities are the usual factors you would look for. Whom would you trust to suggest good hotels? You would look for advice from people who had already stayed at your hotel. That’s where online reputation management comes in.
What are the most popular hotel review sites?
Booking.com is the most visited travel and tourism website worldwide. Booking.com should be your #1 priority in managing your online reputation. This Amsterdam based company has offices in more than 70 countries worldwide. If you want to target both local and international tourists, create an impressive profile on Booking.com.
It is a safe and reliable website. Being a popular OTA(online travel agency), Booking.com also provides detailed description of hotels, FAQs., local attractions, rules and regulations, guest reviews and more.
- Trip Advisor
As of 2022, Trip Advisor’s total number of user reviews and ratings reached approximately one billion, covering listings for restaurants, hotels, vacation rentals, experiences and attractions.
So, maintaining a clean profile on Trip Advisor can get you more popularity. Make sure to upload attractive photos of your hotel. List down all the amenities you provide and distinct features of your property.
When users book hotels through Expedia, they will receive email invitations to submit reviews. This will help in preventing fake and spam reviews.
Users can share ratings, comments and photos. While getting reviews on Expedia is not in your hands, you can find out the guests who have used Expedia to stay at your hotel. You can ask them politely to leave a review on Expedia.
Google is the most used search engine worldwide. Users can leave reviews for any type of business. So, if you have a business profile on Google, anybody can post reviews and add photos.
The major drawback of Google reviews is that there is no way of finding out if a review is genuine or fake. All you need is a Gmail account to post a review. So, many hoteliers use this as a tool to boost their visibility. That’s why majority of the people trust OTAs (online travel agencies) than Google reviews.
However, travellers type in multiple search queries on Google before comparing hotels on booking sites. That is, if users have narrowed down on a particular hotel through a Google search, they will directly book the hotel on an OTA.
Trivago is a price comparison site. When user clicks on a hotel, Trivago compares hotel prices across various travel sites and gives them the best rate.
Users cannot directly leave a review on Trivago. They can post reviews on the booking site redirected from Trivago. In order to appear at the top on Trivago, make sure to maintain a healthy profile across other booking sites.
How do I get more reviews online?
- Reach out to your past customers
You will naturally have a guest database. Use it reach out to customers via SMS, emails, WhatsApp or calls. Don’t be pushy. Let the message be breezy and crisp. If the customer does not respond positively, do not approach them for the second time. It will create a negative impression.
- Make the review process simpler
Would you rather leave a review that takes just a minute or half an hour?
- Incentivised reviews
- Send out emails
- Respond to all types of feedback
How to handle negative reviews about my hotel?
It’s unrealistic to expect only positive reviews. Receiving negative reviews now and then is not bad. In fact, it will help you understand your flaws and improve upon them. If customers are genuinely reaching out to you, make sure to reply to their reviews. It will show that you are taking their concerns seriously and improving your business. Treat negative reviews the same way you would treat positive reviews. Reply to each one of them with the same energy.
Don’t worry about reviews that show blatant hatred. Most of the sites have language moderators. So, reviews that contain unethical and foul language will be automatically deleted. Some sites have the option of ‘flagging’ certain reviews that are deemed offensive. For example, if a review has derogatory remarks about hotel employees, you can have it taken down.
Do I need a team for online reputation management?
Not necessarily. It depends on the size of your hotel. If your hotel has multiple branches spanning different cities or countries, you need a team. If you own a small hotel with limited staff, you can take care of online reputation management by yourself. If it sounds a bit hectic, you can hire an in-house or freelance digital marketer.
Just make sure to get trustworthy feedback. A massive blunder that new hotels make is getting fake reviews to boost their online reputation. Never fall for this trap! Most of the travel review sites and OTAs have means of spotting fake or bot-generated reviews. If you get caught, your profile might be suspended. So, don’t worry if your online reputation is moving at a snail’s pace. Just go with the flow, even if it’s slow.
Just have fun with it. Don’t compare yourself to your competitors. It doesn’t matter if they have 5 stars and you have 3. It doesn’t matter if they have a thousand reviews more than you. All that matters is building customer loyalty. So, keep going and build a solid online reputation.
All the best.