Online reviews are shaping the shopping habits of consumers. Before making important purchases, many consumers read online reviews to gather opinions from other shoppers. The influence of online reviews is also growing throughout the hotel sector, so independent hotels must be aware of and understand how to manage the online conversation about their property. Here are a few tips to help better manage online reviews.
Identify where your guests are talking
Identifying the most popular review sites utilized by travelers, such as TripAdvisor, Google hotel search, Yelp, and any connected OTAs, is the first step for independent hotels. Additionally, hotels should search for regional review sites where local travelers are holding conversations. While these sites may not have a broad reach, they may have significant local influence.
Create a plan for managing reviews
Jumping into online conversations without a plan is a major misstep. Before responding to comments, hoteliers should create a plan for how they’ll handle this responsibility. For example, the plan should identify who will manage online reviews, how frequently and quickly responses should be posted, what tone of voice should be used, what protocols should be followed to handle negative or sensitive reviews like billing mistakes, etc. Once this framework is established, hotels can rely on this system to effectively manage online reviews.
Claim online profiles
To actively join the online conversation, hotels will need to claim or create their profile on each review site. This includes registering on the site, uploading photography, updating property information, etc. Once this is complete, hotels can directly interact with consumers who leave online feedback.
Cultivate an online community
Travelers are known to respond positively to hotels that are active online. Consumers view a hotel’s online activity as an extension of its on-property customer service. Responding to all reviews can help hotels create brand advocates of past guests who are willing to share their positive experiences. Over time, the influence of a hotel’s online community can help potential guests make better-informed lodging decisions, which can lead to increased revenue for independent hotels.