Regardless of the size of your hospitality property, social media is an essential element that should be incorporated into your overall marketing campaign. While we know it can feel overwhelming, we’ll be breaking it into smaller, easy to manage steps.
What Review Sites Offer
When I’m getting ready to take a business trip or vacation, like so many people nowadays, I head straight for the internet. I look for content that will show me reviews, images of rooms, location to public transportation and essential services, bargains, and finally easy online access to making a reservation.
Review Sites will allow customers who would normally never meet to discuss your hotel, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good news is that with a few simple tips, it’s possible to use Review Sites to win over customers for life.
Don’t Turn a Blind Eye
It’s not a science, but in general it’s safe to say two main groups of people will leave reviews. People who LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your hotel, and people who HATE, HATE , HATE your hotel.
Remember: Just because you aren’t listening doesn’t mean they aren’t talking about you.
By being part of the social media discussion, you are able to take control of your hotel’s image, highlight the positive, and seize the opportunity to improve upon the negative.
Actively Participate In Sites With Reviews
Remodeling? People might review your hotel as “noisy” – this is a great chance to apologize, and show you care. No wants wants their sleep disturbed by construction. (You understand that.) Having listened, and heard, you can then go on to explain what your vision for the hotel will be once the construction is finished. Will the visitor have even more banquet space? A heated pool? Updated amenities? Give them a reason to give your hotel a second chance.
This Might Be Personal, But It’s Still Business
You love your hospitality property… you might have even called it your “baby” once or twice, but the truth is, while it’s personal to you, when it comes to Review Sites and comments, your replies are representing your BUSINESS. The person who is writing the review is probably very emotional about their stay, either to the positive or negative, and more likely then not their comments will be emotionally charged. (Great for positive comments, hard to hear with less then glowing reviews.) Take a deep breath and remember, this isn’t personal, and when you reply to a comment you are winning back a customer or fueling a fire you might not be able to put out.
Keep your comments professional, general, and to the point. If they are leaving a laundry lists of complaints, it’s not necessary to go point by point. This isn’t an argument, or a discussion, it’s reflective listening. We hear what you are saying, we can relate to how you are feeling, we will work on the issue… and most importantly we’re sorry.
But, We Aren’t Sorry, That Guy Was A Jerk!
By now you might be thinking, but we aren’t sorry, that person was a jerk, they made our staff cry! An apology isn’t an admission of guilt, but empathy – you don’t want people having a poor experience, and you are sorry they see the situation as all doom and gloom.
Imagine that your apology is for the hundreds of other customers who haven’t stayed at your hotel… who might be willing to give it a shot (despite a negative review) based on your willingness to listen and improve.
Which Review Sites To Get Listed On
The sites that will be most relevant to your property will include a mix of nationally recognized Review Sites, as well as some local listings. Be sure to pay attention to both the national and local markets, and don’t be afraid to ask visitors how they heard about you!
Like an online phone book, Google Places allows you to list your property with detailed information, accurate map location (which will allow visitors to get driving directions), and depending on similar businesses in your area, will have the best chance of being found by someone looking for a place to stay in your specific area. Google Places compiles reviews from several sources, making it a vital resource for any property owner.
One of our personal favorites, Tripadvisor offers an incredible audience, highly targeted area information, and active community discussions. From a marketing perspective, Tripadvisor is also highly integrated with Facebook, making it easier for friends to recommend your property to other friends. Each property is rated and ranked against other properties in the area – for smaller communities this can make it very easy to get to the top of their list with a few glowing reviews. Hotel owners, as well as visitors may also upload images to help promote your business.
Similar to Google Places, Bing offers the ability to list your property, detailed map information, etc. According to some online estimates, Bing has gained a 30% market share, making it worth the time to list, in our opinion.
Online Agencies / Expedia / Orbitz / Kayak / Priceline
While there are many agencies that offer listing and reviews, many of them will “feed” in from the same sources. Example: Hotels.com offers plugins for websites to show listings off of their sites, a feature that is used on Yellowpages.com. By knowing where the page you want to be seen on is gathering information, you can cut down on time spent creating listings. (Usually sites will say, “Powered by…”) Other large booking companies include Expedia.com, Priceline.com, Orbitz, and Kayak.
As a property owner/manager, it’s your responsibility to verify (and correct if necessary), information on your property. Most sites are very willing to make updates to basic information (name, phone, address, location, map, etc.), as well as room rates, availability and features.
Pictures, pictures, pictures
We can not emphasize this enough! Upload good, clear, PROFESSIONAL images of your property. Remember: toilet seats down, well lit, fresh flowers, people-free (unless you are going to invest in a professional photo shoot), clean rugs, remove trash and trashcans, include images of inside AND outside. Highlight the positives – every property has them.