The internet has changed the way we book travel. Today, 81% of customers search online reviews before they book a hotel on their next vacation or business trip. This is exactly why online reviews from sites like TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, Booking, and Expedia can make or break a hotel’s reputation, so hotels need to monitor their online presence and proactively address negative reviews.
In fact, statistics show that 84% of people consider online reviews as trustworthy as personal recommendations and a whopping 72% of travelers make a habit out of reading reviews prior to choosing their accommodation or activities. This is why having a robust strategy in place to manage your reputation and protect your brand cannot be overemphasized. This is where online reputation management (ORM) for hotels comes in.
What is Online Reputation Management in Hospitality and Why is it Important?
Online reputation management in the hospitality industry refers to the process of monitoring and improving the reputation of a property on various online review sites. A good reputation can help your business thrive, but a bad one can cripple it. For this reason, it’s important that hotels have a strategy in place to keep track of their online reputation. This may include responding to negative comments with positive ones and resolving customer issues quickly among others.
So what happens when a property doesn't have an online reputation management strategy? They’re at a huge disadvantage and risk losing customers to their competitors as 52% of people would never even consider booking a hotel without any reviews whereas, nearly all customers (94%) will refuse to do business with a company based on a negative review. That said, it’s imperative to ensure you have a strong online presence and are able to detect, monitor, and understand how to properly respond to both positive and negative feedback.
A few more things that a negative online reputation can do:
- It can negatively affect your sales. A bad reputation will reflect poorly on your hotel's services and products, which in turn will impact its revenue. It can also damage the loyalty of your customers and lead to a loss of repeat business.
- It can make it difficult for you to attract new customers. If you have a damaged reputation, potential guests may be wary of trying out your business because they fear it won't meet their needs or expectations. This makes it harder for you to attract new clients and increase sales.
- It can affect employee morale and retention rates. If staff members don't feel that your business will help them advance in their own careers, they may leave for another job where their goals are better realized — which can be detrimental to the success of any business operation.
- It can hurt your hotel's image among industry peers and partners. If other companies read about negative comments made about your hotel, they might be less likely to partner with you in future projects or refer clients to your business if they think there could be problems down the line due to past issues related to guest service or product quality concerns that weren't properly addressed by management when they occurred in the first place (even if those issues were caused by factors outside of your control).
When you skimp on your ORM strategy — even if only a little bit — the consequences can be far-reaching. No business can ever truly survive without it!
What are the Benefits of ORM?
ORM is a crucial aspect of running a business especially in today’s digital world. While it can be time-consuming, there are plenty of benefits to having a strong online presence. Here are just some of the ways that ORM can help you:
Increases traffic to your website and social media pages
Since people search for hotels on sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Google, and Booking.com before they decide where they want to spend their money, having a positive online reputation will help to attract more visitors to your website and social media pages.
When they see positive reviews about your hotel, they may be more inclined to visit your site or follow you on social media, just to see what else you have to offer.
Improves customer service
Keeping track of all of your guests' interactions with you through ORM can help you better understand their wants and needs — you can't really know what they're thinking if you don't engage with them. This way, you'll be able to see what's working well for them, and what isn't working as well as it should. You'll also be able to learn more about your competition so you can improve your own offerings, processes and services to create an exceptional guest experience.
Generates leads through SEO
Online search engines will rank websites based on factors such as how often sites are linked to and how often they’re shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Guest reviews are also considered when ranking sites in search engines, so if guests leave positive comments about your hotel online, it can help increase traffic and lead generation for your website organically without even having to pay for advertising!
Actively collecting and publishing reviews on public platforms like Google, Booking.com and TripAdvisor may be a good idea. Don't just wait for them to come in; proactively request reviews from guests who have stayed at your hotel recently. You can do this by messaging them directly or simply hanging a sign in every room that says, "If you enjoyed your stay, please leave us a review."
Creates trust among potential and existing guests
If people see you responding to any negative comments left on various websites, they'll know that you care about their opinions and are willing to improve the experience for future guests. In addition, this will also show potential customers that your hotel values customer service — something that can make all the difference in choosing which hotel to stay at when planning a vacation or business trip.
By now, you probably have no reason to believe that ORM is just another business buzzword. But the question is, how exactly are you going to make your ORM strategy a success?
How to Create and Implement an ORM?
When it comes to ORM, there are a few steps that you need to take in order to ensure success.
Optimize your profile on Google My Business.
Google My Business helps you build a strong online presence so that you can attract more customers and grow your business. To do this, you want to make sure you have a complete profile.
Add as much information as possible to your listing, including details on each room type, amenities and services available, location maps (or driving directions), hours of operation, and contact information. You may also want to answer the Q&A portion, put photos of your hotel property, including interior and exterior images, and reply to customer reviews that appear on your GMB.
Respond to all reviews.
When people leave reviews about your hotel, take note of them and respond as quickly as possible — especially if they mention something negative about your business or service. You want these reviews to be positive because they affect not only your hotel's reputation but as well as your ranking on Google search results pages (SERPs). If someone has written a negative review about one of your properties, respond to it by thanking them for their feedback and letting them know that you’re working on improving the situation. This shows that you care about what customers have to say and that you want to make changes for the better. Here are the do's and don'ts of responding to online reviews.
Build an online community for guests.
If you want people to come back to your hotel over and over again, then make it easy for them to do so by building an online community where they can share their experiences with other travelers who might also be interested in staying at your property or learning more about what you have to offer. Make sure that any content posted in this forum is relevant, engaging, and up-to-date.
Monitor social media.
Monitoring what people are saying about your hotel on social media sites is important. This way, you can address any issues that come up before they get out of hand and affect your reputation. As with responding to reviews, monitoring social media also gives you an opportunity to create positive interactions with guests and potential customers that could influence future sales and bookings for your business.
All of these being said, ORM is not an easy task — it's a full-time job, one that cannot be done overnight. The good news is that there are many tools available to help hotels manage their online reputations more effectively.
Online Reputation Management Tools
ORM tools help hoteliers to manage their online reputation and reviews across booking platforms. Most of the established players offer a similar feature set with review management at heart. Typical features of a top-notch online reputation management tool are:
A review inbox of an online reputation management tool is a central location where you can easily access and manage customer reviews from different online sources. The primary benefit of a review inbox is that it provides an easy way to monitor and respond to customer reviews in real-time. This allows businesses to quickly address negative reviews and take proactive steps to maintain a positive online reputation. Responding to each guest feedback from a centralized platform will certainly help you increase your response rates and limit the risk of overlooking critical reviews. Besides the speed improvement (no need to log in to 10+ platforms), another benefit is that there is a built-in translation to understand guest opinions in any language. ORM's inboxes differ mainly in the platforms integrated into the system, with each ORM tool supporting the main booking platforms such as Google, Booking, Tripadvisor and Expedia.
The analytics features of ORM tools can help you conscientiously monitor your hotel's online reputation. The analytics dashboards are usually fed by an AI that extracts topics such as location, cleanliness, staff friendliness, pool, room concept or breakfast, as well as sentiment within each online review.
The service was very welcoming and friendly and the location was perfect for exploring the city. The only negative point was the breakfast buffet with lack of vegan options.
In this example, an analytics AI will detect the following sentiments: [staff friendliness - POSTIVE], [location - POSTIVE] and [breakfast - NEGATIVE].
A real-time analytics dashboard that aggregates any guest feedback can help hotels identify potential issues and guest needs and wants early, improve processes, and put guest satisfaction at the top of the agenda.
Almost every hotel is facing threatening competition. With competitor analytics, not just own online reviews are analyzed but also competitor reviews. There are multiple benefits of competitor research for hotels:
- Gaining insights into the competitive landscape: Competitor research helps hotels gain valuable insights into the competitive landscape and gain an understanding of what their competitors are doing with regards to their pricing, services, and marketing efforts.
- Identifying opportunities for improvement: Comparing a hotel's offerings to the competition can help identify areas of improvement, such as amenities, customer service, and marketing.
- Developing a successful marketing strategy: Analyzing competitors' marketing strategies can help hotels create a successful marketing strategy of their own.
- Staying ahead of the competition: By keeping a close eye on the competition, hotels can stay ahead of the game and adjust their strategy accordingly.
- Understanding customer preferences: By researching customer preferences, hotels can develop a better understanding of their target customer and tailor their services to meet their needs.
Repyling to hundreds of online reviews each week can quickly become a time blocker for every hotel. Therefore, a lot of ORM tools help you create templates to save time when responding to reviews. Learn why you should be careful when using templates and how it can harm your online reputation in this article.
Guest satisfaction surveys
In addition to public online reviews, guest satisfaction surveys are a great way for hotels to ask guests to provide feedback about their experience during their stay. These surveys are important because they provide hotel owners and managers with valuable insights into their services, amenities, and customer service. This feedback can help inform decisions about operations, marketing, and customer service in order to improve the overall guest experience. Additionally, these surveys can help increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat business. With many online reputation management tools you can create guest satisfaction surveys to collect first-hand feedback.
With review widgets, hotels can publish positive reviews on their webste and social channels to increase their online reputation. This can help potential customers see the positive feedback from other guests, which can help them make a decision on whether to book a stay at the hotel.
Ticket routing can be an important feature for larger hotels that helps involving multiple people in the process of answering a review. This can help increase the response rate to reviews, as well as provide an efficient way for multiple staff members to collaborate on an answer. Ticket routing can help assign tasks to the best person in the hotel to respond to reviews quickly and accurately. It can also help with tracking the progress of a review response, as well as to ensure that the response is sent within a certain time frame. Often times, the person responding to reviews has not all the information needed at hand and needs additional information. If a guest complains about a poorly cleaned room, you probably want to check with the Head of Housekeeping to see if a problem occurred during the visit.
Online reputation management tools to consider
There are a variety of tools that you can use to better manage your online reputation. Here is a list of ORM tools that you should have on your radar:
Add an AI Review Reply Assistant to boost your ORM
MARA AI Review Reply Assistant is a simple tool that generates personalized responses to every online review in seconds and that works in combination with every online reputation management tool. You can simply copy-paste the review, fill in the fields and hit "Generate Reply." The tool then uses artificial intelligence to generate a personalized response tailored to your needs.
MARA can be used for both good and bad reviews since it uses natural language processing (NLP) technology to understand what customers are saying about your business and respond to them in a personal and empathetic way.
MARA can generate a response in seconds, therefore, allowing you to quickly address any customer concerns or comments without having to spend hours crafting the perfect reply. It’s a useful tool for hotels to use in conjunction with other ORM tools.
Use Customer Alliance with MARAs AI Review Reply Assistant
Did you know that you can save even more time by avoiding copy and pasting? Using Customer Alliance and MARA makes it easier than ever to manage and respond to reviews.
Generate unique and human-like responses for any review with a click of a button powered by MARA and publish them directly to any platform from within the Customer Alliance interface.
Making all your customers feel valued with personal review responses now feels like a breeze: Generate a response with one click, give it a final check, and post it - that's all it takes. This will save you countless hours each week - guaranteed.
Manage Your Online Reputation with Ease
The internet has made it easier than ever to find information about any company, hotel, or individual, let alone hotels and other accommodations. While this has been great for businesses, it has also made it easier for disgruntled guests to air their complaints online.
Therefore, if you don't proactively manage your online reputation, it can quickly become a problem for your business. However, with the right tools and strategies in place, you can make sure that your hotel's reputation is in good hands.
If you want to protect your business's reputation on the web, you'll need to keep an eye on what people are saying about you. This will help you respond quickly when something negative happens so that it doesn't snowball into a major crisis. It can also help you develop strategies for building positive buzz around your brand.
Fortunately, you can use ORM tools to streamline the process of responding to reviews from many platforms. An AI Review Reply Assistant can further help you to cut down on time and cost spend without sacrificing the individual message.