Feedback scores abound on the internet. In fact without feedback or online reputation scores, electronic commerce probably would have taken a lot longer to take off and be as prevalent as it is today. Feedback was popularized by eBay at the very nascent stages of e-commerce and in fact, was the methodology by which potential buyers first developed trust to even undertake a transaction with a faceless seller somewhere in the ether of the World Wide Web. Feedback harkens back to the humanistic element of assurance and trust and also increasingly taps into sentiments of social belonging. You can really see that online reviews and the explosion of social networking and such chatter really go hand in hand and that social media and online reviews are very important to any purchase being made online.
When consumers make any purchasing decision, they leverage the internet to research about the product or service, complete a price search, and perform their transaction. Buyers in general leverage tools across the internet to do objective research, but also leverage subjective reviews left by others. Whether a person is researching the latest gizmo or gadget or in our case looking for a place to stay, the research process is much the same, and as sellers of lodging, we hoteliers need to be keen about our property’s online reputation. And we’re not talking about how many stars your hotel is! The Hotel Star Rating System is a different topic for another day!
It comes as no surprise that higher rankings in online hotel reputation result in more bookings for hotels. Poor hotel reviews can really compromise your hotel bookings and overall business. In a business where travelers are looking for an experience and expect to be comfortable, any negative feedback being broadcast about cleanliness, service, and facilities can result in damaging consequences for an innkeeper. What’s more concerning is not knowing that your reputation is being compromised, so we advise our clients to keep a pulse on their online reputation.
As hotelier’s, we need to be aware of the channels where our property’s reputation is or could be broadcast. As the internet has exploded with numerous websites, some sites are really bellwethers when it comes to online reputation research for hotels and other places to stay. At top of mind is TripAdvisor and Yelp, but there are several venues on the internet where you need to pay attention and keep a pulse on.
TripAdvisor.com is a travel website that assists customers in gathering travel information and is, in essence, a social network of travelers whereby travelers leave reviews and share their opinions with other travelers. An MSNBC.com poll recently pegged 67% of respondents stating that they checked TripAdvisor before booking their place to stay. With 75 million reviews for 655,000 hotels, TripAdvisor is the go-to website for travelers researching places to stay. Your hotel’s ranking on TripAdvisor for your destination is highly important as a traffic source. We recommend to our clients to even participate in TripAdvisor’s Business Listing service to drive traffic to their website Powered by INNsight. While this cost may be hundreds of dollars as TripAdvisor charges per your property size, a business listing on TripAdvisor allows you to post Promo Codes or special offers and really attracts eyeballs, especially if your property ranks highly.
Additionally, INNsight also provides a TripAdvisor icon on your Property Profile Page on INNsight.com and your hotel website Powered by INNsight which shows your most recent TripAdvisor Reviews.
Yelp.com is a local directory service and social network where Yelpers can leave reviews and connect with local businesses. Yelp has well over 40 million reviews as of the end of 2012 and 80 million monthly unique visitors. Behind TripAdvisor, Yelp is one of the internet’s most powerful reviews platforms for local businesses including hotels and other places to stay. Yelp, while primarily a destination for folks looking for small businesses like salons and restaurants, it is also becoming a destination to research hotels and places to stay. We recommend hoteliers to claim their Yelp business listing and ensure that they review and monitor their Yelp Reviews. INNsight.com and hotel websites Powered by INNsight both display links to your place to stay’s Yelp business listing.
Google is certainly the undisputed king of search. With Google’s tentacles spreading out into mobile with the Android mobile Operating System and its powerful Google Maps service, it has launched a synthesizing local based search service called Google Places which integrates its core search, local, and mobile data into its very own local business listing system. Have you claimed your property’s Google Places page? It is highly important that you claim your Places listing and ensure that the data is accurate and the website address points to your own website—hopefully, your hotel website Powered by INNsight. Google Places is a very high traffic source. Additionally, Places also aggregates online reviews and has introduced its own reviews system. Setup your Google Places account and monitor your reviews!
When you subscribe to INNsight, we actually simplify the process of managing your Google Places account because we will handle it for you. Additionally, we even ensure that your Bing and Yahoo local accounts are correctly managed.
In addition to TripAdvisor and Yelp, which are primary engines for online reputation reviews, we feel that you will find more qualified reviews on Online Travel Agent or booking sites where your property is located. Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. all maintain their own online reputation reviews systems and actually solicit reviews from travelers who have actually booked and stayed at your property. Ranking high on all OTAs and booking engines where your property shows up is highly important as these sites are where lookers turn into bookers. Travelers will always perform a sanity check about their booking decision at the venue that they are making their booking so it is important to always review your online reputation at such channels.
When you subscribe to a hotel website that is Powered by INNsight, not only will your own hotel website have a world-class booking capability and digital marketing system to show off your place to stay, but INNsight will actually solicit online reviews, Facebook likes, and twitter followers from actual guests. When a guest who has booked directly on your website Powered by INNsight checks out, we automatically send them a thank you email and ask them to leave a review. Our reviews provide the ability for a guest to share detailed feedback about their stay and even upload pictures that they may have taken of your property and their experience. We call our very own reviews INNsights because we feel that guests like to share their insights with others. No other online hotel website product offers such a capability.
INNsights show up on your website Powered by INNsight’s homepage and a dedicated page for reviews on your website and your Property Profile Page on INNsight.com.
Facebook and Twitter play a very active role in today’s society. From broadcasting breaking news to spreading rumors or gathering community support, Twitter and Facebook are some of the most powerful tools to spread the word. The pure differentiation between social networks and websites with traditional reviews is really that social curation and validation from social circles hold more weight than a random traveler’s review. For example, if someone in your network, someone who you actually know and hopefully respect boasts about their great stay at a particular place or likes your hotel, that review holds far more weight than a blind review from some unknown person. And if someone with celebrity status likes your business, the promotion is invaluable. Social likes and chatter can work just like any other review—negative reviews can be crippling and positive reviews could result in booming business.
Managing your hotel’s online reputation is as important as knowing all of the channels your reputation is communicated. Let INNsight manage your social networks, tweet on your behalf, engages customers on Facebook, and even draft blogs when you subscribe to our Premium Subscription.
Not all bad reviews are well, bad. Poor reviews should be used as motivation to improve, as feedback to correct faults. What you will find is that as easy as it is to get a bad review, it is easy enough to get someone to refute the bad review if you improve upon your faults.
Being ignorant of your online reputation is simply put, poor management. We recommend that you take the time to read and respond to all reviews, good or bad, where possible. For example, TripAdvisor provides the facility to actually respond to a TripAdvisor Hotel Review with a Management Response.
When you subscribe to our Premium INNsight account, we actually can have seasoned content writers respond to your reviews.
To learn more about INNsight’s Digital Marketing System and the many benefits we offer in managing your hotel’s online reputation management click here.