There is almost limitless data to suggest that online reputation can make or break a hotel's level of success.
Statistics from Tripadvisor confirm that more than 93% of people look at online reviews before booking a hotel, and 53% of those individuals would not stay at a hotel without another guest's affirmation.
Or, as Customer Alliance bluntly puts it: "In the very competitive field of the hospitality industry, your online reputation directly affects your sales volume." Period.
Without a positive reputation, hotels, restaurants, and service providers falter and fade into the background noise of their competitors.
"Understanding - and responding to - conversations occurring online can provide real-time feedback about a brand, allow leadership to pivot and respond to the nimble and ever-changing whims of the industry, and reach a wider audience than just pumping out self-generated content and hoping someone reads it." explains Mathias Rouveure, EHL Alumni 2012, Digital Intelligence and E-reputation specialist at KBSD.
The growing need to understand, track, and monitor online reputation within the hospitality industry has led to a 60% year over year industry-wide increase in how much companies are willing to spend on reputation tools and services, according to Toonz. This trend is one of the few (and only) ways to manage the growing power of social media and the ubiquitous influence of review sites. While reputation management technology isn't revolutionary, it is disruptive, and it does put power back into your hands.
Hotels' first line of defense should be semantic analysis. Enlisting the help of a digital PR agency can help them to track and aggregate online discussions about their brand. Reports will show trends based on the types of issues customers are talking about, how often certain topics come up, and the overall sentiment of their posts. Although the information itself is helpful, what they do with it matters most.
"Just as in public relations, the impact of a brand’s content and communication will be directly correlated to the level of trust established. This is a long-term effort in which brands need to reach out in a genuine and transparent manner. Taking care of online communities will enhance your digital presence in its whole, and ultimately help with leads and conversion. As for owning up to your mistakes, the more relatable and authentic your brand will be, the more your audience will be ready to forgive them." ads Sherif Mamdouh, Head of content at KBSD.
Here are a variety of tips and tricks to help hospitality leaders manage their digital reputation when negative reviews do occur:
- Customers want to be seen and heard. Because hospitality is all about customer service, respond to negative reviews in a timely and gracious fashion.
- Optimizing social media and review site profiles can also increase natural search ranking because they are highly indexed by search engines like Google. As long as those negative reviews don't outweigh the positive ones and the brand is making actionable progress.
- Reviews are a free focus group that can guide and direct overarching marketing and business decisions. Even the best hospitality leaders can improve their level of service, explore cutting edge technology and trends, and connect with their customers.
Content may still be king in the digital marketing world, but online reputation is queen. No matter how big or how small a brand, its online reputation is critical. Simply listening to your customers can be the smartest (and most hospitality-minded) decision your brand could make.