As a hotelier or tour operator, you know online reviews on hotel review sites are important to marketing your business. But do you know why? And do you know how online review monitoring and management can grow your business? Lastly, do you know what review sites you should be monitoring? Well, keep reading, we’ll cover all that and more.
Reviews drive revenue.
Online reviews can help you maximize RevPAR (Wall Street Journal), balance internal and OTA reservations, and minimize yield management discounts. But only when review management is integrated into each property’s 24-hour operation.
Good reviews matter. (And so do the bad ones.)
Online reviews can’t be controlled but they can be managed. Which should be a relief since some research shows the total number of good reviews matter most. Eliminating bad reviews isn’t required (and generally isn’t legal or even possible). And it’s also been proven that bad reviews can lead to the most loyal customers if the reviewer’s grievance is addressed in a timely manner. (Hence the 24-hour operation note mentioned above.)
Reviews: Everyone’s reading them, are you monitoring them?
Various surveys show about 75-80% of all travelers read reviews before booking. As a result, you should be asking yourself: 1) What sites should I monitor? 2) What should my team do if our property is reviewed?
6 Steps to Proactive, Efficient Online Review Monitoring
First set up a business account on each of the top hospitality reviews sites that we outline below, and follow these key practices to maximize your revenue in 2019 and beyond:
- Online review monitoring and management is a continuous process that has to be supported on every shift, every day of the year.
Why? With global travel, it’s always today somewhere.
- Empower your staff and managers to monitor, read, and respond to your customers within minutes or hours. Do this by property, city, or region.
Why? Speed matters and 89% of folks reading reviews also read responses.
- Develop a customer care game plan that includes a variety of messaging and service recovery responses.
Why? Because we know you probably use very similar script when you are face-to-face with your customers. But it’s better to change things up and keep it fresh due to the ubiquity of online reviews.
- Develop excellence in online customer care including empathic responses and using online optimized service recovery best practices.
Why? Service recovery has been shown to be effective by any medium including through messaging systems and reviews.
- Make sure your business information is up to date.
Why? As a result of unclear info, your customers may get confused if they see different hours/addresses on various sites. Consequently, this will help search engines correctly identify your business as well.
- Ask your customers for reviews on a regular basis.
Why? Because 40% of consumers only trust reviews written in the last three months. And most people value recent reviews over old ones. Finally, a higher review volume means both search engines and customers trust you more.
Now that you know the best practices for monitoring review sites, here are the sites you should be monitoring and managing:
As the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, plays a huge role in where people decide to book a room or a tour. Why? Because every month, 415 million customers look through the site’s 535 million reviews of 7 million restaurants, hotels, and attractions to determine the best one. And this hotel review site gets 200 new contributions posted every hour (comScore, TripAdvisor). That’s a lot of user-generated content!
As a result, TripAdvisor is a very critical portal for hospitality businesses. Your team needs to be aware of what is being said on TripAdvisor. And not only about your properties, but also for competitive properties, trending conversations about your destination, and even competitive destinations.
Whenever you’re looking for any information online, Google is your go-to friend. Whether you’re searching for a hotel in Dallas, a tour of Washington D.C., or just the “the best thing to do near me,” the easiest thing-to-do is to just Google it.
Google now offers airline pricing directly on their results pages, and we see more and more consumers Googling it before they plan and book their travel. And Google reviews show up on Google Maps and other Google sites. If you’re looking for a hotel near your customer’s office, a family member. or a convention center, Google Maps (with Google reviews) is the fastest way to see exactly how close a hotel actually is.
Booking.com is a hotel review site that only accepts reviews from users who have verified bookings at that property. “The only way to leave a review is to first make a booking. That’s how we know our reviews come from real guests who have stayed at the property.” Booking.com’s verified reviews add extra weight to the reviews on that site. Not only is booking.com a critical site to monitor, but it’s also a great place to ask your guests to review after their recent stay.
Expedia is one of the oldest and largest Online Travel Agencies (OTA). After any guest stays at a property booked on Expedia, they automatically receive an e-mail invitation to submit a review. That covers any service or transportation booked through Expedia. Tour operators should note that this includes their “Things To Do” tool which highlights tours and activities by destination.
Hipmunk is a travel booking site that incorporates consumer reviews as well as reviews from TripExpert.TripExpert uses “experts to provide meaningful ratings for hotels and attractions.” Hipmunk balances between consumer and expert reviews. Therefore, you should make sure that TripExpert isn’t echoing bad reviews from your customers.
Why are these the top review sites for hospitality businesses? It’s important to get your customer reviews on hospitality review sites that prospective guests know about and visit. The more often a potential guest visits a hotel and tour review site, the more likely they are to read and post reviews there. Higher web traffic suggests that the site has lots of users. And this suggests that it would be quick and easy to leave a review—having no need to go through a lengthy registration process.
How can you get new (and fresh reviews) on top travel sites: There are several ways to collect more reviews from your guests, including manually sending follow-up emails, including links or codes on receipts, or in person. However, the most effective way to boost review volume is by automating the process with review management software. An automated solution lets you ask every client for feedback after their appointment and alerts you whenever you receive a new review.
The bottom line for online hospitality: Reviews are only becoming more important in the hotel and tour industry. To dominate the local competition and earn prospective customers’ trust, you need a review management strategy in place. This will not only earn you a great online reputation. It will also help you understand your customers on a personal level so you can consistently exceed their expectations and keep your spot at the top. It’s a win-win. Now start monitoring and managing your online reviews.