The online hotel review has truly become a game changer for the hospitality industry. Reviews have become the single most influential factor determining the public’s travel decisions, even over price and rankings. A recent study conducted by SAS and The Pennsylvania State University shows that the traveling public won’t even consider staying at a hotel with negative reviews at any price. With so much at stake for hoteliers, it is critical for hotels to remain apprised of the conversations taking place regarding their properties and firmly in control of the responses to them.
Effectively managing a hotel’s online reputation requires implementing a set of clearly defined and ongoing strategies. The process begins with monitoring and listening to the various online channels where the conversations about the hotel brand are taking place, then responding appropriately as necessary.
Since the traveling public is using hotel review websites and social media in their consideration of hotel bookings, it is necessary for hoteliers to have complete knowledge of the information available to their potential guests. Fortunately, tools are available to make this a much simpler and less time consuming process for busy hoteliers. Google Alerts can provide reports of hotel property mentions and search results across the entire Internet. Other tools such as SocialMention can be used to gather information regarding mentions in blogs and social media. More comprehensive functionality is additionally available from a variety of paid platforms.
Hoteliers ignore online and social media hotel mentions at their own peril, because the conversations are taking place regardless of their level of awareness. If potential hotel guests search the web for reviews of a specific property and the majority of results are negative, it is unlikely they will book a hotel stay with that property. Armed with knowledge, hoteliers can remain ahead of the ongoing commentary regarding their properties and proactively respond to any of them when needed. Often what is heard about hotel properties in online channels is positive. Social media and other Internet outlets have become a powerful virtual word-of-mouth, with happy customers spreading the word about hotel brands they love.
Constructive criticism from guest reviews can provide hoteliers with valuable feedback about their properties. Much can be learned in online hotel reviews about staff performance as well. The information learned through online hotel reviews can provide hoteliers with a better understanding of their brand and how it is perceived by its customers, while pointing out areas for improvement to the hotel’s product and services. Clear knowledge can also be gleaned regarding everything the hotel is doing right and pleasing to its customers. All of this information learned from online hotel reviews should be viewed as highly valuable marketing intelligence.
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