Nearly every traveler checks online reviews before booking a hotel. Seriously, nearly every one - 97.7% read other travelers’ online reviews.
So, with the world watching (and clearly paying very close attention), how can your hotel stand out in that digital realm? Of course, you’re hoping guests will be delighted enough by the accommodations and experiences at your hotel that they’ll rave about you. But even if their reviews are 5-star superb, it’s not enough in today’s ever-connected technological world to simply sit back and let them roll in to TripAdvisor.
There’s a proven plan (a legitimate hotel marketing strategy) to leverage more quality reviews that’ll make your brand look amazing. Online hotel reviews are an invaluable form of brand ambassadorship and free advertising.
Getting More Online Hotel Reviews Takes Strategy and Dedication
Our friend, the hotel guest, may intend on leaving a review after his stay. How long after? We don’t know. It may not be a priority. It may not happen at all.
About 70% of people will leave a review if asked to directly. Let’s review a few touchpoints to increase your chances of getting that review. First and foremost...
Keep It Quick and Simple
Your guests are busy. An online hotel review shouldn’t take more than a few moments to fill out:
- Select a star rating
- Check a few form boxes
- Leave a comment
- Click submit
If your guest wishes to write something the length of War & Peace about how great their stay was, that’s fine. However, don’t ask to borrow more than a few minutes of their valuable time.
Text or Email Guests At Check-in
Your guest finishes checking in, grabs their bags, and heads for the elevator. The phone buzzes in her pocket with a “welcome” email from your hotel. Following the salutation and a few highlights from the hotel, their guestroom, nearby restaurants, and surrounding attractions, there’s a “let us know what you think” section.
That’s a great first touchpoint. They’ve likely skimmed the email in the 2 minutes it takes to reach their room. There’s a good chance they won’t do the review, in which case you’ve simply offered a gentle reminder. There’s also a decent chance they’ll want to get it out of the way and offer solid feedback on their first impressions.
Reach Out to Guests During Their Stay
Whether they’re staying 1 night or a week, send a follow-up email or text after they’ve had enough time to fully experience your hospitality. Again, the content of this touchpoint should be educational, entertaining, and enticing. Perhaps the email could highlight the mouthwatering specials that evening at your hotel restaurant or directions to attractions or an event nearby. But at the bottom there should be another call to review.
Although this won’t always be the case, presumably your guest will consider your correspondence to be a helpful service. Pleased you did something to make her stay happier, they may be inclined to give you a few moments in return.
Create ‘Instagrammable’ Moments
No, you can’t force your guest to take photos and post them on social media. But you can create environments or situations in which they feel compelled to.
Let’s take, for instance, DoubleTree by Hilton, which has built a popular brand off the main franchise model with cookies.
Each guest at DoubleTree receives a free warm cookie upon arrival. Social media explodes with people posting pictures or videos of themselves receiving or eating the cookie.
You may not have free cookies to give out, but you’ll benefit even from selfies taken by the pool or while lounging in your custom hospitality furniture. Do they look like they’re having a wonderful time? Good. Potential future guests will notice.
Segment Reviews Related Directly to the Experience
No one’s even amazed anymore that technology pinpoints their location and experience with extreme precision. If your hotel bar & grill has a place to “check in” on social media, it should have a similar place to leave a review.
Do you have a spa? A fitness center? A conference hall? A ballroom? Those are all segmentable touchpoints to leave very specific reviews. Each section of your website could have review sections specific to that place.
Text or Email After Checkout
You hate to see them go, but your guests have checked out and left. What better time than now, after they’ve experienced all they can at your hotel, to politely ask about their stay?
But wait! Give them some space and time to think about it. Like a romantic interest, you’d love for them to come back but you don’t want to appear too pushy or overconfident.
After 24-48 hours, drop a quick line to thank them for her stay and ask for a review.
Pin Reviews to Your Hotel Website
TripAdvisor has some 500 million online hotel reviews and 390 million unique monthly visitors. Yelp, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and OTAs are also popular avenues for guest critiques. So move reviews dealing with your brand onto your site. A running feed or widget of reviews and social media posts can grace your webpage constantly.
Guests don’t have to go searching for reasons to book with you. Everything is right there for them in one central location. (Helpful hint: If guests see there’s a chance their posts will be featured on your site, they’ll likely be inclined to post more often.)
Offer Something in Return
Hotel guests love rewards. Think of how many hotel brands feature rewards points. Guests love added value, so there’s something powerful to be said for giving something to get something in return.
Reward your guests for their participation. Perhaps 10% off their next stay or a meal in return for a solid review will whet their whistle.
Most Important: Be Responsive
The reality is, you’re in the business of serving human beings. One’s with emotions, likes, dislikes and a variety of opinions. So, it is inevitable that you’ll have good reviews, bad reviews, and indifferent reviews. Someone may feel like giving 1 star because a pillow was out of place, while someone else would still give 4 stars despite receiving the wrong room service order.
Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s important to respond to every review with a thanks or reassurance. Bear in mind, however, while you’re tending to the current comments, you’re really showing off your hospitality prowess to those who haven’t yet decided on your brand.
Being responsive may take time and staff you feel you don’t have. Try one of these options:
- Have a dedicated staff member respond to reviews/comments regularly
- Hire a person
- Do it yourself
- Or take turns
Like a garden, the ROI of a well-cultivated comments section far obviously far surpasses letting it fill with weeds.
Let’s Reap the Benefits of More Online Hotel Reviews
Hotel guests love sharing their experiences. They’re likely to tell their family and friends personally and on social media. Consider this the electronic word of mouth your hotel can’t do without.