5 Tips to step up your online reputation management
Online reviews and ranking sites, like TripAdvisor, have changed hotel reputation management beyond recognition. As a hotelier you might have already experienced the positive or negative snowball effect of TripAdvisor rankings and ratings in terms of your finances, hotel occupancy rate or bookings. In other words, even if you are an official five-star hotel – which is great, congratulations – it does not guarantee you an impeccable hotel reputation if you are careless with online customer feedback on, for example, TripAdvisor. The latter has become the largest and perhaps most influential travel user-generated website, which can either accelerate or slow down business or even put you out of it.
Nevertheless, only a mere 7% of hotels actually responds to online reviews and a whopping 85% of hotels lacks guidelines on how to monitor online feedback (according to Revinate in Baka, 2016). This post and Hotelspeaker’s expertise aims to change that by listing 5 tips for online reputation tracking based on a 2016 study by Baka, who scrutinized the evolution of electronic word-of-mouth advertising:
- Monitor the Internet closely
This might seem an obvious first tip, but customers can truly share their views on your hotel in every nook and cranny of the Internet. Luckily, there are countless facilitating and freely available tools that help you stay on top of things, like Google Analytics, Google Alerts or ReviewPro, which collects reviews from over 90 different sources. However, do not forget to also keep a sharp lookout for social media platforms like Foursquare and Facebook and other online travel agents, which Hotelspeaker can help you with.
- A non-stop job
Your hotel’s reputation should not be taken for granted, because it is ever-changing. One day your hotel features on top of the TripAdvisor ‘Best hotels’ list and the next it is mentioned in the ‘Dirtiest hotels’ ranking. In other words, reputation management and replying to online comments is a 24-hour task that needs to be reckoned with. Luckily, Hotelspeaker is here to help you deal with this seemingly impossible task.
- Keep an eye on the competition
Staying ahead of your competitors is also key when it comes to reputation management. Via TripAdvisor’s Owner Centre you can keep track of both your data and conversion rates and those of your rivals. This is particularly important as various cases have confirmed a correlation between high conversion rates and high TripAdvisor rankings. Knowing how your competitors are doing and handling reviews will help alert you when to step up reputation management activities.
- Think about ranking methodologies
Many online review and ranking sites work with sophisticated algorithms that determine the online presentation and scores of hotels. TripAdvisor keeps their algorithm mechanism top-secret, but the number of good and bad reviews is likely to play a considerable role. Unfortunately, competitors can attempt to manipulate your ratings by posting false and anonymous reviews. If you detect any manipulative reviews make sure to report them so they will be examined, deleted and not damage your reputation.
- Climb the rankings
This is of course easier said than done, but a great start is offering exceptional service and encouraging your travellers to write reviews by sending follow-up mails or distributing cards upon checkout. Finally, it is also advisable to reply appropriately to both negative and positive reviews. One way of doing this is by treating online complaints and comments like you would at the reception desk of your hotel. Although strategically answering negative reviews might not directly change the reviewer’s perception on your hotel, it will score you brownie points with future hotel guests as it shows responsibility and customer engagement and the next hotel they book, might be yours.
If you are eager to jump on the reputation management bandwagon, these tips and tricks are sure to help you raise your reputation management game. More information can also be found in our other blogs and if you need an extra hand to manage the flow of reviews your hotel is getting, do not hesitate to contact us!
Baka, V. (2016). The becoming of user-generated reviews: Looking at the past to understand the future of managing reputation in the travel sector. Tourism Management, 53, 148-162.