Online Reputation Management (ORM) entails devising strategies to positively influence the public perception of an individual, organization, or business on the Internet.
In a nutshell, your online reputation is what others think of you or your business’ brand based on the information they can find online.
The online reputation of hotels and restaurants, specifically, is essential to these hospitality enterprise’s success. Effective reputation management means building a digital public image so that anyone seeking information about your brand and business finds positive customer experiences that paint your hotel or restaurant in the best possible light.
Reputation management can be divided into two main focus areas:
1. Monitoring Your Online Reputation: Understanding what is said about your business online
2. Driving Your Promoter Score: Driving more positive reviews and enhancing your hotel/restaurant's promotional reputation
Together, monitoring your online reputation and working to drive higher scores can help protect your brand during a crisis, as well as strengthen it during good times.
Later in this blog, you’ll see the positive impact INNsight’s Reputation Management Service has had on the online reputation and, consequently, the revenue for clients’ hotels. But first, let’s explore why you should care about your hotel or restaurant’s online reputation?
These days, there's a lot of information available to customers. It doesn’t matter the industry: guides, walk-through videos, social media, and online reviews help consumers make a final purchasing decision. Hence, reputation management is vital for all businesses.
Hotels and restaurants have a few specific challenges when it comes to managing opinions that their customers leave online about their product and services:
Today, customers rate hotels and restaurants all the time. Websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Online Travel Agents like Booking.com and Expedia have made it incredibly easy to rate a guest’s recent stay. And these reviews are an essential part of the purchase decision process and the post-stay experience for guests. In many ways, fairly or unfairly, review aggregator sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have become authorities on a hotel or restaurant’s quality.
Earlier, expert reviews were critical, but they were often separate from the consumer’s buying process. Now, you read reviews and book your accommodation simultaneously, especially with many booking websites prominently surfacing authentic guest reviews alongside rates and the booking call to action.
So reviews are a big deal when it comes to a potential customer making their final purchasing decision. A positive promoter score can make or break your business.
One of the merits of these online reputation platforms (for consumers) is that it’s now easy to find and discover hotels in most places and get a glimpse of what it would be like to patronize the business before committing. However, it can be tricky to zero in on a selection considering all of the subjective data points and opinions.
Consequently, your competitors are also there for the world to see and compare versus your own hotel or restaurant. Prospective customers won’t hesitate to choose higher rated alternatives.
You may have relied on customer loyalty in the past, but with all of this choice and user data that customers are exposed to online, you now have to maintain your reputation so you can compete more effectively.
Your business' reputation is your biggest asset. More than ever, your potential customers go online to check reviews so they can make an educated decision about which companies to trust and which product or service to select.
More than 8 in 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Showcasing carefully chosen perfect 5-star reviews on your official website provides a strong trust signal, which leads to validating their decision about patronizing your business.
This review culture became popular for a reason:
Most people assume that businesses bend the truth in their marketing. However, other patrons don't have much of a reason to lie in a positive review. If they believe a hotel or restaurant is good, it probably is.
And sure, some people get disgruntled and write harsh feedback. But the sheer volume of reviews makes them easier to believe.
Of course, choosing where to stay or dine is a crucial decision. Usually, travelers going to an unknown location end up paying through the nose or risk missing out on discovering the best options. So the more information customers have (in the form of customer reviews), the better. Naturally, customers read online reviews, especially from multiple sources, before making their final decision.
For these reasons, it's vital to protect your hotel or restaurant's reputation online.
Your hotel or restaurant’s reputation on review websites is often the primary or secondary (after pricing) deciding factor on whether a guest will choose to stay at your hotel or dine with you or not. Even if your hotel or restaurant is one of the most popular in the area, it all comes down to guest reviews! Guest reviews can be very influential, as they can have both - a negative and a positive impact on your online reputation.
Positive reviews, from who we will term as promoters, are like a free promotion from real people! They are honest and genuine feedback from people who have stayed at your hotel or dined at your restaurant before, and they hold a lot of value for your potential customers. Consider positive reviews as recommendations received from friends and family. That is why we encourage hoteliers and restaurateurs to request their guests to leave a review about their experience. Additionally, many reviews websites and search engines use multiple guest review factors to rank your business listing, ranging from a number of reviews, a number of positive or negative reviews, and ultimately the promoter scores. The more positive reviews your business receives, the higher your page ranking, promotion, and traffic your business will ultimately receive.
You should be extremely grateful when you receive a positive review from your guest. A simple “Thank You,” “It was great to host you,” and “Looking forward to hosting you again” can go a long way. When a person sees that a hotel or restaurant is responding to their reviews, it makes your business appear more likable, appreciative, and considerate of your guests. It demonstrates that your business is high-touch and cares about the customer relationship, highly valued in the hospitality business. Replying to every review is also critical when it comes to your ranking in the search order of reviews websites, Online Travel Agents, and search engines like Google. All of these websites use review response statistics as a weighting in their page rank algorithms, so higher frequency and response rates will help drive more traffic to your business listings online.
Negative reviews hold incredible weight and can be highly damaging to your business. It can deter potential guests away from your hotel and diners from your restaurant and ultimately harm your business reputation. That is why hotels and restaurants must respond to negative reviews quickly and authentically with empathy. Most of the negative feedback may be genuine, while some can be fabricated and simple retribution for some slight a disgruntled customer may have felt. You need to be extra careful, polite, and considerate while answering negative reviews.
Whenever you receive a bad review, never take it personally. Most of the time, the feedback is about a minor inconvenience that you can quickly rectify, and similar experiences can be avoided in the future by learning from these failures or gaps in your product or service. You should include an apology or offer some kind of compensation for their poor experience. Your polite and professional response to negative reviews will help put you in a positive light in front of readers researching your business. You have to realize that potential customers are smart and want to be educated and always assume they will read guest reviews and your responses thoroughly before making their booking decision.
After choosing INNsight to actively manage its online reputation, Palo Alto Inn saw its response rate go from zero to 100%. This is very important because review replies and response times are now being incorporated into search algorithms in their platforms. Businesses that do not reply to their reviews with urgency are deranked, impacting visibility, traffic, and conversion.
|Platform||Before Choosing INNsight||After Choosing INNsight|
The most significant impact of an active online reputation management service like INNsight’s is a rapid acceleration of rankings on online platforms. In the hotel space, TripAdvisor is widely acknowledged as the go-to source for hotel rankings online. Hotels must focus on driving more TripAdvisor reviews as this platform is an authority for ranking hotels in markets based on their quality scores. Over time, INNsight has driven Palo Alto Inn’s ranking on TripAdvisor into the Top Ten in a highly competitive market. This Top Ten ranking has resulted in meaningful traffic increase, driving higher quality customers, and ultimately an increase in revenue.
Improving online reputation has a massive impact on conversion and revenue. As you can see from the data above, once a reputation management program was put in place by INNsight, Palo Alto Inn saw a marked increase in revenue that almost doubled from $39k to over $69k with conversion rates more than doubling from 0.62% to 1.68%, resulting in more transactional velocity from 72 bookings to 168. The proof is certainly in the above numbers that actively managing your online reputation matters to your top-line revenue.
We see very similar results with The Stage Coach Lodge, which is located in a completely different market in Monterey, California.
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Before selecting INNsight to drive its Online Reputation Management, Stage Coach Lodge was ranked terribly on TripAdvisor in the bottom 50% of hotels in the area. After substantial reputation management work completed by INNsight, Stage Coach Lodge has built its reputation scores on TripAdvisor into the Top Ten of all hotels in a very competitive market in Monterey, even reaching into the Top 5. This is a testament to the value of aggressive online reputation management.
Active Online Reputation Management by INNsight has helped Stage Coach Lodge drive more direct revenue by nearly doubling direct bookings on its website from $77k to $127k in trailing six months of data. This is merely the tip of the iceberg as the online reputation improvement has been across the board on multiple platforms including all Online Travel Agents such as Booking.com and Expedia. Stage Coach Lodge now is one of the best performing hotels in all of Monterey’s markets consistently driving more than $40k revenue per key. This is primarily driven by the achievement and maintenance of high reputation promoter scores online.
As a hotelier, you may encounter hundreds of guests at a time, and sometimes mistakes do happen. It is your responsibility to identify your errors and stop repeating them. Here are the common errors that hoteliers make when it comes to Online Reputation Management:
Hotels tend to receive several reviews depending on their size, popularity, and the season. Responding to online reviews might seem like a tedious task for hotel owners. As a hotel owner, you can turn this situation into an excellent opportunity to improve your online reputation. Your responses will leave potential guests impressed with your professional conduct, build loyalty, and give them another reason to stay at your hotel again. Additionally, you will learn more about your business, be able to identify gaps in your product and service and be able to react quickly to complaints, and improve your guest experience.
Most of the time, it is the General Manager of the hotel who takes care of managing reviews. They may, however, not have enough time to leave a personalized response to all guest reviews on all platforms as per their job responsibilities. Due to the lack of time, they may end up using the same generic set of responses. Guests will quickly interpret such responses as lazy and show that your hotel lacks genuine interest in guest feedback.
Consider if your hotel hosts hundreds of guests each night, while you receive only 1 or 2 reviews daily, you are wasting a golden opportunity to solicit reviews if you do not ask and reinforce the suggestion to leave an online review. The higher number of reviews your business has depicts that more people have trusted to stay at your hotel. This increases your hotel’s trustworthiness, not to mention your ranking on many websites that harvest these reviews. You can maximize your potential by encouraging all of your guests to leave a review. Not all of them will agree, but many would be happy to share their feedback. A rise in the number of reviews will also improve your hotel’s ranking and overall promoter score.
Replying to all the reviews in one go conveys insincerity and recklessness on your side. Guests should feel that their feedback is valuable to the hotel and is taken into consideration very seriously. Make sure to dedicate some time to reply to guest reviews daily. Additionally, review response rates are increasingly utilized by websites in ranking your business listing. The more replies, more frequently, will result in higher ranking versus your competitors.
Mistakes are acceptable as long as you learn from them. If you cannot manage your online reputation on your own, you can choose to leave the task of managing guest reviews and online reputation in the trusted hands of professionals like INNsight.
Online Travel Agents (OTAs e.g. Expedia and Booking.com), Review Aggregator (Yelp and TripAdvisor) and Google My Business (GMB) listings help your business obtain wider exposure, drive traffic, more bookings, attract the right guests, and lead to better rankings and higher score reviews.
All of these platforms drive an incredible amount of traffic to bring you more customers and boost revenue to hotels, especially during off-peak periods.
You must collaborate with these websites to complete your profile and make sure you keep the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) identical on each platform.
Try your best to complete every detail about your business and also offer many hi-resolution photos. Travelers want to visit a business profile that provides detailed information about its amenities and services, along with images and videos.
Optimize GMB listing, Review Aggregator Website and OTA profiles, and provide up-to-date information so that guests can have a clear idea of what their experience at your hotel or restaurant may be like.
Every website or platform that curates online reviews has its own set of guidelines that hoteliers and restaurateurs need to follow. All OTAs' primary motive is to drive bookings to your hotel. Reviews Aggregator Websites primarily focus on curating online reviews and are customer-centric. Google, meanwhile, aims to organize data and make it more searchable.
You cannot treat each of these platforms the same way. For instance: You can leave a link to your hotel website on the reply section on the reviews from Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. This is not the same case with Booking.com and Expedia. They do not allow responses that include the hotel link in the reply because their intent is to manage your customer as if it is their customer and they want to control all of the data and relationships.
In the above image, you can see a review and response for The Stage Coach Lodge Hotel in Monterey. Here, we have replied to the review and added the hotel website wherein any visitor can visit the hotel’s website directly and book there.
You can do the same thing while responding to Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews.
Yelp Review & Reply:
TripAdvisor Review & Reply:
When you respond to the reviews of Booking.com & Expedia, they are shown like this:
When you fail to meet the review reply guidelines provided by OTAs, they do not approve your response and reject your response.
It is always suggested to read the guidelines of each of these platforms and leave a reply accordingly.
Always read the responses that guests leave about their experience at your hotel or restaurant and try and glean information about your business performance.
Try to find patterns based on your guest reviews. Many times, guests leave behind valuable feedback that can give you an insight into your hotel management, facilities, and service, especially cleanliness.
Guests do share positive and negative points of their experience in their reviews. Analyzing the guest's reviews and acting upon feedback can prove to be fruitful in the long run.
Make sure that your negligence doesn't cost your business. As Adam Smith, The Father of Economics has rightly quoted, "The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence."
Most potential customers will likely have researched online reviews for your business on one or more third-party websites before completing their reservation or purchase on your own website.
After landing on one of the many third-party business listings that have reviews of your business, the customer will certainly read through recent experiences other customers have had at your hotel or restaurant. It is imperative to reply to at least the most recent reviews across Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and all third party booking websites.
Looking at any unresponded reviews, a sense of doubt can potentially cast in the customer's mind, and eventually, they may change their purchase decision.
If you wonder what a difference regularly responding to reviews makes, then take a look at the below research findings from igniyte.com:
Read more such encouraging facts regarding online reviews and start responding to reviews ASAP.
When you start replying to the customer reviews, make sure you respect the guest. Be polite in your tone, however negative the review might be.
You cannot meet the desired expectations of every customer. Sometimes they leave negative reviews that can be damaging to your business if not addressed quickly and correctly.
Best Practices to Address Negative Comments About Your Business:
First things first, thank the customers for leaving a review of his stay at your hotel or for dining at your establishment.
Ask for an apology for the poor experience that the guest had during their experience.
Tell them that you will look into the matter personally and make necessary improvements.
You can also ask your customer questions regarding their experience and how you can improve in an open-ended fashion.
Ensure you address the negative reviews without delay as the responses to those reviews will indeed create a good impression in potential customer's minds. Most people are balanced and fair and will appreciate earnestness--they know no one is perfect so honesty and integrity in your review response can go a long and help dispel any negative sentiments.
There are numerous things business owners are required to juggle to perform admirably. You might be having more critical work than replying to each and every guest complaint or review. But ignoring your guests will not help you to grow your business.
Reviewing every guest review and creating a unique response for each customer is very time-consuming. If you feel that you cannot dedicate time to managing your customer reviews and online reputation, then seek help from professionals.
The most effective, yet affordable online reputation management system that delivers results for its clients is Powered by INNsight.
INNsight's Reputation Management System allows you to proactively manage your business reputation online with our intelligent software solutions and robust services to earn more positive reviews and actively manage both negative and positive feedback.
We ensure that your hotel or restaurant is represented online, and every guest review is heard. Our proficient content writers will respond to all reviews across major platforms including TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, Booking.com, and Expedia within 48 hours.
Contact INNsight to increase your property's online reputation score and rankings to convince more customers to choose your business and drive more bookings.