The phrase “word of mouth” may sound old and outdated, but it’s still one of the most important marketing tactics for independent hoteliers. In the past, word of mouth meant that a guest would tell 10 people about his or her experience and then, based on this recommendation, those 10 people would each tell 10 additional people and the cycle would continue on with the hotel benefiting from the first-hand publicity. This tactic allowed countless hotels to grow and sustain success over a long period of time. Today, with the advantages of technology, word of mouth is executed differently, but the concept of guests sharing their experiences with others is stronger than ever. Having a strong and positive reputation is critical for longevity in the independent hotel business, so operators must learn how to participate in and navigate today’s world of word of mouth marketing.
Today, by the time guests have checked-out of their hotel room, it’s likely they’ve already begun spreading the word about their experience. Social media allows them to share stories, photos and videos about every moment of their trip with anyone who is interested. Social media is a powerful tool, but there is one particular area where hoteliers must pay even closer attention – guest reviews.
Guest reviews have helped travel sites, like TripAdvisor, and online travel agents, such as Expedia and Travelocity, explode in popularity. Their collective influence are so great that travelers rely on them to make important decisions during their planning. What this means for hoteliers is that their reputations are no longer solidified solely through slow-moving 1-to-1 word of mouth, but also through guest opinions that are broadcast instantly to travelers across the globe. Additionally, instead of waiting weeks for a return on guest recommendations, hotels can benefit from online word of mouth immediately. Online guest reviews prove that word of mouth is not only thriving, but it’s extremely important to the growth of the travel industry.
Guest reviews have the collective power to influence a hotel’s performance, so it’s critical that operators are knowledgeable of and actively manage what’s being shared online about their property. In our “5 Easy Steps to Increasing Occupancy with Good Reviews” guide, we provide independent hoteliers with tips for encouraging guests to write more reviews, managing where they are posted, ensuring they enhance a hotel’s reputation and, ultimately, help drive greater occupancy and revenue. Today’s word of mouth may look very different than it did years ago, but it’s clear that guest opinions are more powerful than ever.
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