First impressions matter: Why online reviews must matter for your independent property

In our conversations with independent property operators, most agree that online reviews of their property posted on TripAdvisor, online travel agencies (OTAs) and social media are extremely valuable.  However, a quick scan through various review sites reveals that a sizeable portion of guest comments don’t receive the full attention they deserve from hoteliers – a big mistake and a costly missed opportunity.  First impressions matter, so here’s why independent properties must prioritize the management of their online reviews:

First impressions matter

The path to purchase for travelers searching for hotel rooms can be a long, winding journey.  A few taps on their smartphones delivers an assortment of resources, like blogs, social media feeds and OTAs, providing initial introductions to hotels located in their travel destination.  As travelers begin narrowing their selections, it’s almost inevitable they’ll review feedback from past guests.  It’s in these moments where independent hotels can directly influence their decision making.

While independents cannot monitor every online comment, they can focus on a few key sites where they receive the bulk of their feedback.  On these sites, hoteliers should invest time and effort into keeping their profiles updated with property details and photos, and most importantly, responding to every guest review.

Replying with a simple “Thank you” to positive reviews shows appreciation for past guests and lets potential guests know the hotel is active on the site.  For negative reviews, hotels must develop strategies to provide solution-based responses that show past and potential guests that service and hospitality are their top priorities.  Otherwise, ignoring guest reviews can signal a lack of attention toward the needs of hotel guests.

How independent hotels handle online feedback can have a direct impact their future fortunes – it can help keep travelers interested throughout the travel planning process and ultimately contribute to securing their reservation or be a deciding factor in eliminating the property from consideration.  Online reviews are an integral part of the travel planning process, so independent hotels must decide to take ownership of these online conversations or allow the narrative for their property to take on a life of its own.

We understand that managing online reviews adds yet another task to your never-ending To Do List, so we want to help.  Click here to set an appointment with an innRoad property advisor who can provide insights on how to use OTAs to your advantage.