The economy isn’t what it used to be. And even though things are finally starting to look a little bit brighter, activities like dining out and traveling are still considered to be somewhat of a luxury for many. What this means for the hotel industry is much tighter competition to try and win new customers.
Besides offering the cheapest rates, one of the best ways to attract new business is through online reviews. That’s because in the hospitality industry, word of mouth is like the Holy Grail. In fact, according to a 2012 study conducted by PhoCusWright, 87% of TripAdvisor users feel more confident about choosing a hotel after reading its online reviews. That same study revealed that more than half of those asked said they would not book with a hotel if it did not have any reviews.
So, yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.
Still not convinced? Here are 7 more compelling reasons online reviews are an absolute must for your hotel.
Online reviews are excellent tools for providing consumers with the information they need to make a buying decision – especially when it comes to hotels. A whopping 98% of TripAdvisor users find the information in online reviews to be accurate, so when there are lots of good things about your hotel online, chances are you’ll generate more bookings. More bookings equal an increase in revenue.
You spend a lot of time, money and resources marketing your hotel, but if you’re not reaching your target audience where they are, you’re not going to get the results you’re after. Online review sites – especially those dedicated to the hospitality industry – provide a rich audience of consumers that are ready, willing and able to book a hotel stay. All they need is a reason to choose you.
Not everyone who has a bad experience in your hotel will stop at the front desk to complain. Chances are, however, they’ll share their issues online. While negative reviews are never fun, they do help to identify areas where improvements are needed. So, there’s actually a silver lining if you approach it the right way. Plus, when you respond appropriately, you’ll show your audience that you’re listening and you care, which can go a long way toward improving your reputation.
Boost in SEO
When it comes to how your website gets ranked on the search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, an important part of the algorithm is how often your business gets mentioned online. The more mentions, and the better the quality of those mentions, the higher authority your site will have. This helps move your business up in the search engine results and can give you a leg up on your competition.
When consumers go online to write a review about your hotel, they are essentially advertising your business for free. Assuming most of those reviews are positive, you’ll have a powerful marketing tool at your disposal – without having to pay a dime. If you’ve got a few negatives in there, not to worry. Only 5% of the PhoCusWright survey respondents said they look mainly at the negative reviews, so as long as there are only a few, it shouldn’t be a huge problem.
All that said, here are a few tips and tricks to really get the most out of your online reviews:
- Stay on top of what’s being said about you online - Respond to reviews in a timely manner - Keep responses positive. Apologize and then offer a solution to the problem. (This is really important, because 57% of travelers say an appropriate response from hotel management is more likely to help them make the decision to book and 84% say it improves their overall impression of the hotel.) - Always be professional. 64% of people surveyed said an aggressive response to an online review would turn them off from booking. - Encourage guest reviews by making it easy. Offer free WiFi and place a “review our hotel” button right on your hotel website.
Simply put, if you’re not leveraging this important marketing tool for your business, you’re missing out on the many benefits it can provide. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be working hard to provide an exceptional guest experience. Doing so consistently will naturally lead to more reviews, which will further boost the success of your hotel.