Quality and quantity are both important when it comes to reviews for your boutique hotel. When your hotel provides great stay experiences, they also generate organic reviews that naturally help. However, relying on just the organic process for getting online reviews could mean that your hotel misses out on a lot of opportunities to maximise your visibility and reputation.
Here is a range of ideas that can help maximise the number of online reviews that your hotel receives. More reviews received and responded to professionally means a stronger reputation and higher demand.
1 – Ask for reviews. Establish a mechanism where your hotel is asking for reviews either online or offline or both.
2 – Enhance the guest experience. Continue to improve the guest experience at your hotel in small ways.
3 – Exceed expectations. Find new ways to surprise and delight your guests. Whilst this is not easy to achieve, doing the same chocolate on the pillow at nighttime routine is not bound to surprise and delight guests over time.
4 – Manage guest expectations. This seems contrary to the suggestion above but is somewhat different. It is important to set the right expectations during the booking phase. Negative reviews are typically caused when the hotel experience/product is perceived as one at booking stage and the guest arrives at the hotel to find it is very different. Positioning the hotel correctly on all channels is key to this.
5 – Respond to all reviews both positive and negative. This requires speed and professionalism. A templated approach can do more harm than good as what you publish in response is in the public domain for prospective bookers to judge you on.
6 – Study competition. Learn how your competitor set is managing their review process. What are they getting good reviews for and what can you learn from them and adopt at your hotel?
7 – Optimise your online marketing channels. Ensure that your own website, social media pages and e-mail communication makes it easy for guests to provide reviews.
8 – Consider using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. NPS is a possibly one of the most popular rating scales in use currently that identifies the probability of your guest recommending your hotel to someone else on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest. Guests who score a 9 or 10 for your hotel are more likely to review you and it is worth reaching out to them.
9 – Time it right. Asking for reviews at the right moments matters. Ensuring a consistent approach across the hotel and not just within your marketing team is important – especially if you’re soliciting customer reviews offline.
10 – A personal note in the guest room. If you have the practice of a welcome note in your guest room with compliments, it also provides an opportunity to ask them to share their experience in a guest review after they leave.
11 – Google reviews are important. While all hotels focus on TripAdvisor as a must-do, not many spend time to understand the impact of google reviews. Ensure that your business is verified – this allows your hotel reviews to appear in map searches, and allow you to respond to reviews. Equally having a good amount of positive reviews can drive additional traffic to your website.
12 – Be “helpful”. On Google, you can give comments that provide specific positive feedback and includes details of an experience, a boost by labelling them “helpful.”
13 – Enable reviews on your Facebook Business Page. While Facebook is seen to be an important marketing channel, it is not always used very effectively as a reputation management channel. Start by ensuring that you have enabled this functionality under Settings > Edit Page > Reviews> Settings next to the Reviews section> Slider to ON.
14 – Encourage Facebook Reviews. Ask your guests to check-in on Facebook. And this not only gets additional visibility on the guests wider social network but also prompts Facebook to send them a reminder to review.
15 – Offer simple incentives. While this topic can be somewhat fraught in terms of how much incentive and what type of incentive before it looks like a bribe, a simple approach like an entrance to a contest should provide some subtle encouragement to review your hotel.
16 – Include all staff in the process. Find ways to incentivise hotel teams to deliver great experiences and generate positive reviews. This could be in the form of rewarding departments that get mentioned in reviews.
17 – Consider the demographics of your largest market segments. When you are running a high-end boutique hotel, your hotel’s target audience is likely to cater to higher-income and more demanding guests. This can lead to tougher reviews. Equally, if your hotel attracts guests from non-English speaking countries, they may not be familiar with the review websites you ask them for review on. Relevance is important.
18 – Ask for reviews at check-out. This is a good place to ask for reviews especially when you know that your guests have had an enjoyable stay. Consider offering some kind of give-away (eg: postcards) that is likely to remind them of their stay and review when they get back.
19 – Tell guests why their feedback is important. Many guests understand the importance of reviews but not all of them associate its relevance to your hotel. Being able to explain honestly that it plays a role in continuing to run the hotel and provide great service will help provide an emotional connection – and encourage them to write a review.
20 – Send a post-stay e-mail. Just a simple ask on the lines of “We’d appreciate it if you left a review!” is usually enough.
21 – Test different messaging. Although simplicity as above should do the job, you may find it useful to test different types of messaging to see which ones have the most impact. Track and compare results.
22 – Test the TripAdvisor Review Express Program. This allows hotels to automatically send a request for review emails to your guests through and has shown some good results.
23 – Track new reviews posted on third party OTA and review sites. While TripAdvisor tends to dominate the hotel review space, large OTAs encourage reviews directly with their bookers and can be a big source of new reviews.
24 – Use a guest reputation management system. With multiple avenues for guest reviews, it becomes more complex to monitor and respond effectively. Hotels with a broad distribution channel network will find it useful to manage this in a consolidated way using products like ReviewPro, TrustYou and Revinate among others.
25 – Analyse online reviews. All the review gathering and responses are not of much use if your hotel does not make use of the enormous learning that comes with it. Putting in place a continuous system of identifying specific improvements and changes that are needed and implementing them will be key to your hotel’s ongoing reputation.