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5 Tips to Help Bolster Your Hotel's Online Reputation

Online reviews can make or break you. Think about that for a moment, because it’s important that you grasp the significance of that fact. You can have an amazing website, a charming article in a travel mag, and advertisements running every week—but if your online customer feedback is negative, your bookings are going to take a hit.

That’s the reality. And this is what you need to do about it — pay attention, respond to every review (both positive and negative), address any problems head-on, and ultimately, take control of your online reputation. Here are some crucial pointers that can help.

1. Register Your Hotel on Review Sites or Claim Existing Page

You can’t receive glowing reviews when guests can’t easily find your business on common review sites. So, here is your first step: Gain Visibility. Concentrate on influential social sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Foursquare and Google. If your hotel is not listed yet, add it. We’ve even made it easy for you—just click each link above, and it will take you to that site’s business page. If you ARE listed but you haven’t claimed the listing yet, do it asap. Once you “own” the page, you can respond to reviews, add photos, provide details and control what your potential guests will see.

Remember that customers also use social media favorites like Facebook to post reviews—so staying on top of your hotel’s social media page is a must, as well.

2. Appreciate the Likes and Win Over the Haters

Earning positive online feedback is fantastic for your business—and it’s important to acknowledge each review with a sincere, personalized thank you. Guests who enjoyed their stay are an asset you don’t want to take for granted, so let them know you truly appreciate their business. If they lavish praise on specific features/services, such as a knowledgeable concierge, pristine rooms or wonderful amenities, be sure to mention those particulars in your reply.

Now let’s talk about negative reviews. New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer’s “Hug Your Haters” has some great insight about the importance of taking this feedback seriously. Especially when it comes to noting the difference between your perception of customer service and the reality. According to his keynote data, “80% of companies said they deliver superior customer service,” yet a mere 8% of customers agreed. What you can take from that nugget of information is this: you may be missing something—and your guests can and will point it out…often in a public forum. Mr. Baer also reminds us about the weight these reviews carry. They can shape the way “onlookers perceive your business.” The good news is you have the power to reshape perception through the right responses.

As you read and reply, look at every negative comment as an opportunity to make a meaningful impression. Be sure to address the person respectfully, apologize with sincerity, and assure him/her that you’re looking into the problem. If the situation warrants it, be prepared to make amends. The commenter could very well update the review and rating by letting others know how you rectified the problem (i.e. refunding them for a night’s stay or offering a complimentary upgrade if they visit again).

Remember that not every hotel takes the time to focus on this crucial aspect of customer service. And when you do, you’re essentially showing potential guests that you care more about their satisfaction than your competition.

3. Timing is Everything

Aim to respond to reviews within 24 hours. Or at most, 48 hours. We know it can be time consuming but it is do-able. If you need help managing guest feedback, there is software available that can make it easier. Companies like BirdEye and Podium can help by monitoring multiple review sites, letting you know when new reviews are posted, and more.

4. Use the Right Ton & Proofread

When it comes to replying to guest feedback, the secret to success is authenticity—be professional but also be real. Scripted answers are impersonal, and let’s face it—just plain lazy. Humanize your responses, projecting a friendly and heartfelt tone across the board. Your sincerity will be noticed and appreciated. Also, proofread before hitting that post button—misspellings and poor grammar don’t reflect well on your business. There’s no need to hire someone with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing… simply make sure your reply is error-free and readable.

Sample response for a positive review mentioning a great concierge:

Dear __,

I am delighted that you enjoyed your stay with us and couldn’t be happier that our concierge was so helpful to you. We will be sure to share your compliments with him! Please come see us again soon. Best wishes, __, manager of ___ Hotel.

Sample response for a negative review regarding poor housekeeping:

Dear __,

I am so sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your stay with us. Our hotel prides itself on offering the best customer service to our guests and regret that you experienced problems with the housekeeping services. We are looking into this mishap and assure you this is not a typical occurrence. We hope next time you’re in town, you’ll give us an opportunity to do better. Best wishes, __, manager of ___ Hotel.

5. Tackle the Problems Head-on

To repair or enhance your online reputation, you need to do more than simply respond appropriately to reviews—you need to practice what you preach. Take all of the comments to heart and if there’s a problem (especially a topic that is consistently mentioned), fix it. If you need more information, ask the reviewer to call or email you directly so you can understand what went wrong and how you can ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. If the issue is a serious grievance, make amends that properly reconcile the situation.

Have you been paying attention to your online reviews? Do you feel they play a part in attracting new guests and inspiring repeat visits? Let us know!