Those who know me know that I rarely discuss the pros and cons of online guest review websites like TripAdvisor or HolidayCheck. I’m acutely aware that many of my industry colleagues aren’t the biggest fans of such sites, yet we all only have two choices when it comes to online guest comments and ratings: ignore them, or work with them.
Personally, I know which one I’d rather pick — TripAdvisor and co. are here to stay, so you might as well spend some time this autumn and make your hotel’s online guest reviews a little more social.
Learn to share
I’m continuously amazed by how few hotels in the region share good online reviews via their various social media channels. Sharing positive TripAdvisor reviews on your property’s Facebook page or Twitter account is easy, fast, and very useful for several reasons: firstly, sharing positive reviews widely distracts from any ‘not so positive’ reviews which may be floating around for your property.
Secondly, it gives you a way to thank your online reviewers publicly – yes, you can also do so in a TripAdvisor management reply, but cross-posting good reviews on other platforms means that your thank-yous reach a lot more people (what do you mean, you don’t reply to TripAdvisor reviews? Please report to the principal’s office immediately).
Thirdly, sharing your best reviews online lets others re-share them with their friends and online contacts — free PR for you and a better online reputation. Lastly, ‘positive breeds positive’, and by sharing your hotel’s share-worthy online reviews with your online fans and followers, you might just encourage one or the other to pick up the keyboard and leave a review for your hotel, thus increasing your hotel’s number of good online comments.
Talking about increasing your hotel’s online reviews: how easy do you make it for your guests to review you? Did you know that you can now embed the TripAdvisor review form for your hotel on your website or Facebook page? This makes it even easier for your guests to leave reviews after they stayed with you.
Remember, research has shown that a 10% increase in the recommendation rate leads to a 5% increase in the bookings (Source: Ye, Lax, Gu, Chen (2010)The influence of user-generated content on traveler behaviour).
HolidayCheck, too, offers you tools to increase your review count and you can download a useful factsheet from campus.holidaycheck.de. You should also consider adding a little review widget on your property’s website like the Ramada Downtown (www.ramadadowntowndubai.com/en/) or even embed a link on your website’s booking page like Accor Hotels does, for example with the upcoming Pullman Deira City Centre.
Local sites matter too
Lastly, don’t forget about the growing importance of local review sites like YaDig (www.yadig.com), especially for your F&B outlets. There are currently close to 400 hotels and many more restaurants and bars listed on YaDig, yet not even properties which otherwise excel in replying to guest reviews on TripAdvisor, seem to bother engaging with locally based reviewers.
YaDig, too, makes it easy to encourage your guests to review your hotel or restaurants by supplying personalised reminder cards for use in your outlets (free of charge) or you can embed their review form into your property’s Facebook page like McGettigan’s Irish Pub did.
Google Local (previously Google Places) also lets users review your property, restaurants, and bars, as does Foursquare, so make sure you check your listings regularly and reply to reply-worthy comments.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the increase in online reviews and ratings, consider implementing a review and reputation management solution like ReviewPro, Revinate, or Olery — such systems often pay for themselves in a short period of time simply because they let you gather useful business data, engage online complaints quickly and effectively, and allow you to uplift your property’s overall online reputation, which can give you an important competitive advantage.
Whatever you do: Keep it social!
About the Author:
Martin Kubler is owner, director and chief cook and bottle washer of Iconsulthotels FZE, an ultra-boutique hospitality consultancy in Dubai.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/iconsulthotels