The online reputation of the Hotel. What is it and how to improve it to increase sales?
Today the hotel’s online reputation is one of the aspects of the business that must be taken care of the most. Why? Simple, online reputation is the prestige that a person or brand has on the internet. As in the life of any human being, prestige is gained or lost in different ways and the opportunities that arise in the future depend on its quality. Specifically for our case, the quality of the hotel’s online reputation (that is, online prestige) will depend on the commercial opportunities (alliances, investments, sales, etc.) that arise.
The hotel’s online reputation is made up of several elements, all very varied but complementary to each other. Some of them are the actions and comments that the hotel property and its users carry out on different online sales platforms and social networks. It is what would commonly be called Word of Mouth or Voice to Voice. It is important to understand that all the conversation that is generated on the internet through comments or ratings works as a marketing tool and performance indicator, which are essential to know customer satisfaction and increase hotel income. Do not forget that proper management includes monitoring, managing, answering opinions online, among many other things.
How do opinions and comments work?
When potential guests make a reservation, they commonly consult various opinions, reviews, and experiences of other travelers. Surely, they also visit more sales channels before formalizing the reservation. This happens because our guests consider that the scores and comments that other clients leave disinterestedly are more reliable and honest than those of other sources with information influenced by economic interests.
Online reviews and ratings from past guests, along with hotel pricing, cancellation, loyalty programs, and quick response policies, help future guests make safer and more informed decisions.
The role of Online Ratings
Online ratings directly affect the positioning of the property in the web market. For example, algorithms such as Google’s take into account the average rating of the reviews when placing the web among the top positions of the search engine. Taking into account that more than 90% of users only stay on the first page of Google results, positioning yourself on the first page of the search engine is of great importance.
It is possible to sell the rooms and services at a higher price than the competitive set since you have to know that guests are more likely to pay more when there are more positive comments. A positive rating facilitates loyalty actions and our profitability since guests are much more willing to return to our accommodation.
To achieve high and positive evaluations, it must be taken into account that each hotel employee must care for, respect, and value the guest, creating opportunities before, during, and after their stay. Hospitality is the key to success. It is important to hire prepared personnel, with a passion for service and commitment to the guest experience, train and involves the entire team in decision-making, quality policies, set objectives, and above all have a guide to good practices for resolution of online and offline complaints. Similarly, it is important to motivate and reward staff and everyone who achieves goals, celebrating their successes along with positive feedback.
How to take care of the hotel’s online reputation
Taking care of the hotel’s online reputation is extremely important, as it directly influences the image and global prestige of the brand. It must be borne in mind that this reputation is a social construction that is not controllable, as it is created from different perceptions of guests before, during, and after their stay, and by the different ways in which viewers perceive the opinions they read.
To protect your reputation and thereby increase sales, you must:
1️⃣ Create alerts in search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo and have monitoring tools. In this way, the hotel will receive notifications every time it is mentioned. The entire process can also be automated to find out what, who, when, how, where, and in what sense the hotel is being talked about.
2️⃣ Update the profiles on the main opinion pages and OTAs (Online Travel Agencies in English) such as TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Yelp, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, among others. Add descriptions, images, and contact information to keep your content correct and up-to-date.
3️⃣ Optimize online presence by keeping social networks active, publishing posts with relevant information that educates, inspires, and excites guests, photographs of the facilities, as well as offers and promotional packages. In this way, ties with the guest community will be strengthened.
4️⃣ Respond to each of the reviews in a personalized way, without eliminating or ignoring the negative ones. Respond politely and assertively, apologize if necessary, and seek a solution to the situation. It is good to show that a complaint is a gift to improve the service.
5️⃣ During the guest’s stay, you must have fluid communication and a close, sincere and empathetic treatment. That way, when the guest checks out, they are invited to leave a positive review and when they receive the satisfaction survey, they can speak positively about the property, as well as on social media and OTAs.
6️⃣ The customer experience can be enhanced with technological aids such as LobbyPMS: Maintain fluid reservation processes, clear information on rates, effective communication between points of sale, etc. This is perceived by the client and will surely make a good comment on the web
Some extra actions to take care of and grow the Hotel’s online Reputation
Don’t forget to take the competition into account. Analyze what they do and how they do it, so you can compare it with what you do internally in your accommodation. To do this, you must identify the competition correctly, enter social networks and sales channels. That way you will recognize what guests value less or more, you will find reasons for complaints, points for improvement, and strengths.
Once this information has been collected, the key findings can be located and benchmarked with properties that adapt to the characteristics of the property locally and internationally, thus allowing the development of improvement and growth strategies.
All areas of the hotel should think about what they would like guests to mention about the property, in order to formulate internal strategies and meet objectives. Once at that point, a pilot must be implemented in a property (if there are several), with detailed actions such as goals, deadlines, and necessary resources. Do not forget to carry out a current diagnosis of the hotel through internal interviews, mystery guest, analysis of internal documentation, and online reputation management platforms for a correct comparison in the future.
What to do if the hotel’s online reputation is damaged?
In case the online reputation of a hotel is highly damaged, there are “cleaning agencies” that help by reviewing the information on the internet to find the negative content. They implement strategies with different formats such as blogs, articles, news, videos, etc. to counter and replace such criticism with positive feedback and information. These companies are in charge of monitoring and tracking the brand to avoid possible attacks and problems in the future.
Taking care of the online reputation is taking care of the property since it is the image for future clients before they actually visit the facilities. You must think that guests and employees are the allies for the success of sales. If the hotel responds to at least 50% of online interactions, it will have a greater chance of increasing its occupancy by 6.4% and increasing loyalty by 1.4%, according to Medallia. Expedia, for its part, mentions that if a property has higher scores in the OTAs, they will generate twice the conversion than the others.
Finally, it is important that you keep in mind that investing in guest experience programs, implementing Social Media policies, and having a CRM will help the hotel’s online reputation.