Independent hoteliers know that online reviews factor heavily in travelers’ decision making process, but the number of travelers who rely on them and their direct influence on hotel bookings may come as a surprise. A recent study by TrustYou discovered that:
• 95% of travelers use reviews when making booking decisions
• When comparing hotels with equal room rates, travelers are 3.9 times more likely to select a hotel with a higher review score.
• 76% of travelers are willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores
As the findings show, online reputation management is no longer an option for independent hoteliers – it’s a requirement. With a successful online reputation management program, hotel operators are able leverage their online popularity into offline bookings and revenue.
Use these four easy tips to enhance your independent hotel’s online reputation and capitalize on the power of customer reviews:
Actively manage your hotel’s TripAdvisor and OTA profiles
The first step in enhancing your independent hotel’s online reputation is to actively manage your profiles on the most popular digital travel channels, like TripAdvisor and online travel agents (OTAs). Hoteliers should update each profile with well-written descriptions and great photography. Secondly, operators must get into the practice of monitoring each channel daily, including responding to inquiries and thanking guests for their feedback. 84% of TripAdvisor users say it makes them feel good about a property when they see management respond to reviews, so it’s clear that they’re paying attention to which hotels engage with travelers and which don’t.
Optimize for a mobile devices
By 2016, travelers are expected to spend over $30 billion on mobile-device booked travel purchases, so one of biggest mistakes independent hoteliers can make today is failing to optimize their owned digital channels for mobile devices. With a mobile-optimized website and booking engine, independent hotels are equipped to capture reservations from travelers who are ready to book after reading great online reviews.
Encourage guests to share their experiences
At every available opportunity, independent hotels should encourage guests to share their experiences online. From the booking confirmation email to a note on the bottom of the receipt, hoteliers should let their guests know that feedback is welcomed and appreciated. With more positive online reviews, independent hotels increase their opportunities to convert traveler curiosity into bookings.
Always respond to negative reviews
The most difficult part of managing an independent hotel’s online reputation is responding to negative reviews. Warranted or not, negative reviews come with the territory on travel review sites. Independent hoteliers can reduce their impact by responding quickly and honestly. This shows travelers that you value customer service, both online and on-property, and are committed to providing your guests with a memorable experience.