In a recent blog post, we started a discussion about the reasons why independent hoteliers are sometimes too modest or purposely embellish the accuracy of their online content. Both approaches have an impact on a hotel’s performance, so it’s an important decision for operators. In continuing the discussion, here are the pros and cons of “stretching the truth” with a hotel’s online content, as well as some tips for crafting the perfect online messaging.
Pro: Slightly stretching the truth puts heads in beds.
Independent hotels that strategically stretch the truth about their property for the purpose of increasing bookings put themselves at risk for negative guest feedback. For example, the following two descriptions can be used to highlight the same property, but they paint very different pictures in guests’ minds:
- Quaint, historic hotel with rustic features and amenities
- Small hotel built in 1970s with basic features and amenities
The first description gives the hotel an old fashioned, romantic feel, while the second is very simple and doesn’t grab your attention. When hotels take extra liberties in their descriptions, it’s easy to see why guests feel like victims of “bait and switch.” But some hoteliers feel that it’s easier to apologize and try to make guests comfortable once they’re on-property rather than letting the reservation go to a competitor whose hotel is in similar condition.
Con: Overstating can ruin a hotel’s reputation and guest loyalty
Short-term financial gain versus long-term reputation and loyalty is what independent hotels risk when they over exaggerate their on-property experience. Online reviews have become digital currency for travelers and pay a large role in their planning decisions. Independent hoteliers must understand that over promising, under delivering may lead to lots of negative reviews that eventually become too challenging to overcome and cause permanent damage to their business.
Independent hoteliers know that writing online content for their property is challenging. Using the perfect words, tone, photos, etc. is critical for standing out from competitors and capturing bookings, so being too modest or overly exaggerating can quickly shift an independent hotel’s fortunes.
In working with hundreds of independent hotels, our advice for crafting the “perfect” online content is to, at a minimum, write two versions of every description, including room types, amenities, services, etc. The first set should be very honest and straight forward and the second set more generous and aspirational. Then, selectively combine the content so the final product is honest, but also includes touches of creativity.
Next, allow team members, friends, former guests, etc. to read the content and provide feedback. Keep working through the process until your online content sounds just right. The goal should be to establish realistic guest expectations, but also let guests know that your independent hotel will do everything to make their experience memorable.