Checking in with Online Reviews: The Key to Success in the Hotel Industry

April 1, 2015 9:16 pm Leave your thoughts

Google and other search engines are the primary channels where travelers are researching your brand. These results drive the conversation about how you are perceived online. As the manager or owner of a hospitality business, the greatest dilemma you will likely face is your online reputation. Unfortunately, some businesses and individuals are oblivious to what the public is saying about their location or services.

In a recent New York Times article, the importance of analyzing customer ratings and reviews was applied to the hospitality industry.

“As hotels in the United States continue on a surge in spending on renovations, an ever-more-important factor driving this investment is the growing clout of review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, and booking sites like Hotels.com.”

Hotels and other businesses in the hospitality industry are reading what travelers are saying about them and planning their daily operations around these opinions. In 2014, the hospitality industry is expected to spend more than $6 million on renovations and other improvements.

More statistics of note: Sixty percent of consumers consider ratings and reviews important when researching businesses, according to a study from Neustar Localeze Annual Local Search Survey. Emarketer found that nearly 70 percent of Internet users in the United States sometimes compared prices or read reviews before visiting a brick-and-mortar store.

Consumers seek out ratings and reviews to help them make more intelligent purchasing decisions. Organizations like Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau try to play a trusted role in this area, but travelers also look for user-generated reviews. These reviews by peers reveal important insights about their recent experiences.

It’s crucial to be proactive about your online reputation and acquiring positive online reviews. Signing up for alert services ? for example, Google Alerts – can help you stay on top of any future negative search results that might appear.

The ideal way to commence an online reviews management strategy is to understand your customers and their unique needs. Online reviews management helps businesses in the hospitality industry market themselves with authenticity. Online reviews management allows a hotel to earn the trust of potential customers.

An essential component of a successful online reviews management strategy is examining negative feedback and commentary. If you’ve received negative comments online, you know there’s often little opportunity to respond. Plus, responding to those negative mentions often has harmful consequences.

Given the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and other up-to-the-minute social-media sites, hotels must respond quickly when a crisis occurs. ?Small business owners have the ability to communicate in an instant and establish a rapport with customers. It’s an intelligent tactic to monitor conversations that include your industry competitors. You can use all your newfound information to improve the experience of your own customers.

For any business in the hospitality industry, there will always be detractors who did not view your service as a success. With the increased popularity of reviews and ratings sites, these dissatisfied customers are more likely to vent their feelings in public forums with high traction and high visibility.

Personal interactions are a major component of online reviews management. You connect deeply with prospective customers at a personal level by showing a concern for their needs. Online reviews management ensures that visitors feel more invested in your services; it allows your staff to emphasize the point that you care about the customer’s needs and are working diligently to meet his or her expectations. Online reviews management has a significant role to play in your reputation management strategy. Incorporating an online reviews management strategy into overall operations is a great way of serving your customers with greater success.

It’s nearly impossible to sift through hundreds of reviews to find areas of concern and determine which complaints are valid. People use online review sites as an avenue to provide feedback and let business owners know what may need fixing. Often, disgruntled customers will not speak directly to managers, which makes the customer service process even more difficult. Some customers insist that a poor review on a site like TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google Plus sometimes can be the only way to get a business owner’s attention.

In short, your best intentions will come up short in customer service without the implementation of an online reviews management strategy. If you can’t connect with a crowd of prospective customers, your bottom line is bound to suffer. Online reviews management experts can help you to acquire positive reviews. Online, even small boutique hotels have a large target audience waiting to learn about their services and products. Brands that are communicating, engaging and remaining socially active have an upper hand.

Businesses in the hotel industry should consider a service such as The Review SolutionTM that encourages customers to post online reviews directly at the point of service. With the capability of distributing these reviews to popular mainstream and niche-specific review sites, The Review Solution is a suitable fit for agencies, consultants, hotels large and small, and more. As a powerful new tool on the market, The Review Solution “addresses all of these issues through a single, easy-to-use monthly service that allows the business owner to focus on growing business rather than battling online reviews.” The Review Solution clients see a substantial increase in positive online reviews while strengthening the core of their customer relationships.

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Steven Wyer

Chief Operating Officer at The Review Solution
Steven Wyer is the Chief Operating Officer of Third Coast Interactive, Inc. and the author of Violated Online. As COO of Third Coast Interactive, Steven Wyer oversees platform development, sales, marketing and internal operations. These responsibilities include global expansion into targeted vertical markets that can best leverage the power of The Review SolutionTM, a service that offers consumers a convenient way to post online reviews for local, regional and national businesses.

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