Travelers typically visit an average of 38 sites before booking a vacation, and read approximately 6-12 reviews on any hotel before deciding to book, so it’s important for hotels to pay close attention not only to their website, but to their overall online reputation.
Your hotel’s overall online reputation comes from more than just guest reviews. How easy is it to find your hotel online and on maps? What are guests saying about you? What are OTAs saying about you? Can guests engage with you on social media? Your hotel should own the narrative in each of these aspects. Here are 9 tips for ensuring that your hotel leaves just as positive an impression online as it does in person:
1. Build out your website and claim social media accounts.
Developing a great online reputation first begins with a solid web presence. For that you’ll need a well-designed website and booking engine that’s fully responsive to display on all size devices, and developed with sound SEO principles so that search engines can properly index your site. You’ll also want to claim account names on all the major social media accounts, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat, among others. It’s highly recommended that you stay active on social media and create a robust engagement plan, but even if you decide not to use a particular social media channel, at the very least you don’t want another business claiming your brand name.
2. Ensure that your website, booking engine, OTAs, and TripAdvisor are populated with beautiful photos and clear, concise descriptions.
We’ve all heard about rate parity, but content parity is just as important! No matter what channels you’re using to sell your hotel, the content (photos and text) should be consistent. This means using the same photos, room names, and descriptions across all channels—don’t call your room “Superior King” on one site and “Master King” on another, as this can be confusing to travelers who are comparison shopping across sites. If you’re selling your hotel across multiple channels, including multiple OTAs, platforms such as Leonardo can help you with content and asset management.
3. Claim business listings in the major review sites and online directories.
First things first, claim your Google Business Listing and make sure to properly update your profile and photos (we can’t stress enough how important good photos are). Your Google Business Listing also ties in with your Google+ brand page. You’ll then want to make sure that your hotel is listed properly in all the major review sites, such as TripAdvisor as well as in all the major online business directories in your area (here’s a good list of online directories in the U.S.). You can hire an SEO company to help you manage this, but if you do manage it yourself, be sure to remember one thing: NAP consistency. Having the exact same Name, Address, and Phone Number listed everywhere is one of the most important things you can do for boosting your local SEO.
4. Encourage lots of reviews from guests.
Online reviews are surprisingly good for boosting your own website’s SEO, so do your best to encourage your guests to write reviews. And this is one instance where quantity is more important than quality—a hotel with 240 reviews and a four-star rating is considered more trustworthy than a hotel with 12 reviews and a five-star rating. You’ll also want to monitor your reviews and respond to them regularly; this helps to show customers that your hotel is engaged with its guests.
5. Resolve any negative issues quickly.
Don’t let negative reviews or customer complaints online go unanswered without some response from management. Address any negative feedback in a professional, non-defensive tone and do your best to rectify any unresolved issues directly with a guest. In the case of potentially fake negative reviews, flag them and report them to the review site.
6. Expand your website’s content with destination information.
Make your website a useful source of information to current and potential guests. There are numerous ways to do this: create an online map of local sights and restaurants, curate your own activities guide, offer suggested walking tours, etc. Think mostly about the type of information that your guests are asking in person, and then make that information available online. This can be promoted via your hotel’s blog, or on a designated section of your website.
7. Build a robust social media presence.
It’s important to stay active on social media, as it gives guests a good way to engage with your brand. Find a method that works for your hotel, whether that’s answering guest questions or concerns via Twitter, sharing inspiring travel photos on Instagram, or posting your blog content on Facebook. Just remember to post regularly and use a consistent brand voice throughout.
8. Create and share high-quality videos of your property.
Videos can be a powerful medium for promoting your hotel to potential guests. Not only do they look great on your website, but posting these videos on a sharing platform like YouTube or Vimeo makes them available for guests to find online. Remember, Google has a “video” tab for search, make sure your hotel owns the top spot in the results!
9. Capitalize on any PR by linking to it.
If you’re working with a PR agency or in-house publicist to promote your hotel to travel media, work with them to ensure that any positive articles or reviews are shared and linked to from your website and social accounts. This helps to boost the SEO ranking of the article and ensures that positive results come up when people are doing searches of your hotel name. Likewise, ensure that the article itself links to the website of your hotel; if it doesn’t, ask the publication or author (nicely!) if you can include the link.
Your hotel’s online presence should be a natural extension of its physical one. Just as you maintain the upkeep of your property, you will also need to maintain the upkeep of your online reputation. There are a number of tools that can help to streamline this task, including reputation management platforms, asset management for distribution channels, and social media management tools. The important thing is to be proactive in monitoring your brand online—stay ahead by addressing negative issues quickly and staying positive and professional throughout.
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