Hotels live and die by their reputation. It can have a bigger impact on bookings than even room prices, on-site amenities and guest service. The challenge for hotels, therefore, is to cultivate a positive reputation in an era where publically reviewing a hotel is easier than ever.
Hotels these days have little control over the reviews posted on sites like TripAdvisor, which can make reputation management feel like a colossal battle. People are free to post glowing praise or bitter disappointment, so how do hotels preserve their positive image?
It takes a two-pronged approach. The first is proactive measures—steps you take to establish your reputation. The second is reactive measures—steps you take to maintain your reputation. Follow these suggestions to take control of your hotel’s reputation online:
- Set a strategy: It’s not enough to simply aim for a positive reputation—reputation management needs to form part of the larger marketing strategy of your property. Your hotel needs an image and an identity—such as an urban boutique hotel or cozy country inn. Before getting serious about reputation management, clearly define what kind of reputation you want to cultivate and then make a plan to brand your property accordingly. Considerations like how and where you choose to promote your hotel, as well as the channels you choose to list on, will have an impact on your reputation strategy.
- Enlist the whole team: A reputation is more than a slogan or a gimmick. It’s an image that projects from every aspect of your property and brand. That is why reputation management needs to involve everyone, not just executives or marketers. Educate every member of your staff about the image you want them to embody. After all, it’s often the direct actions of staff members that result in a positive or negative review, so everyone should see reputation management as a crucial part of their jobs.
- Create policies: Create staff social media policies to prevent damaging content from making it online. You should also educate staff about the consequences of mistreating guests and getting into disagreements online. In general, striving to offer an amazing overall guest experience prevents a lot of bad reviews, but it’s also important to emphasize the specific role that social media posts—even on personal accounts—can play in a hotel’s reputation.
- Improve your online presence and engagement: You need to engage with guests online in order to manage your reputation. That starts by updating your profile on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and anywhere else where people leave reviews. Adding pictures, content and contact information encourages people to leave positive reviews and provides you with a certain measure of control over the image of your hotel that’s presented on a particular site.
- Monitor your presence: You can’t manage your online reputation if you don’t know what it includes. Monitoring tools can send you alerts when people review or rate your hotel. Assign someone to monitor these and pass the insights along to relevant staff—the quicker you become aware of a situation and respond appropriately, the better.
- Learn from feedback: Even bad reviews can be beneficial. Online reviews reveal what your hotel is bad at, so instead of simply writing off negative reviews, treat them like constructive criticism and use them to make meaningful improvements. Similarly, use positive reviews to accentuate your strengths. Combining online reviews with guest surveys gives you a clear perspective into the guest experience.
- Reward staff: As mentioned earlier, the staff who work face-to-face with guests have the biggest impact on the guest experience. Use bad reviews to correct behaviors, but also use positive reviews to reward and praise your staff when they go above and beyond. Staff who are eager and able to dazzle guests are a huge asset for your hotel, so it’s important to make them feel appreciated.
- Respond to reviews: Responding to reviews—both positive and negative—shows guests you are engaged online. Apologizing to people who leave bad reviews demonstrates you are aware of the issue and eager to make improvements. It also reassures potential guests that you take their feedback seriously and genuinely care about their experience with your hotel.
- Encourage reviews: The more reviews you have online, the better, even if some of them are negative. Having more reviews helps to build trust and diffuse the damage of a particularly negative one. Most review sites prohibit you from paying or rewarding reviewers, but you can encourage guests in-person and online to write reviews.
Every hotel wants to manage its reputation, but not all do it well. It requires a top-down perspective of both the physical property and its online presence. It also requires an integrated approach to the guest experience. Once those tools are in place, hotels are in a position to impress every guest, and a positive online reputation is all but inevitable.
RoomKeyPMS coordinates every aspect of hotel operations, including reputation management, through one data-driven platform. Decide what image you want for your property, then contact RoomKeyPMS to discuss your plans.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / baranq