When it comes to making choices about hotel destinations, travellers are deeply and increasingly invested in online reviews. At the same time, hotel brands seeking consumer bookings have invested time and human resources in managing and developing the online review space well.
At a broader level, here are key areas to consider while planning a wholesome approach to reputation management.
- Plan your reputation strategy and objectives – what is your hotel looking to achieve. How will you measure it and what you will do with it.
- Identify the key players and stakeholders and break down the roles and responsibilities, how it will be monitored and responded to and what follow up actions are required
- Establish ways to monitor and the scope. It is easy to get overwhelmed.
- Identify if a technology-driven solution is appropriate for your hotel to manage the process and deploy it
- Use insights from customer reviews to enhance product and service offerings
And here are some tactical steps you could be doing now:
- Online listings and presence: Scour the internet to identify and list websites where your hotel is listed with or without you knowing it. This could be social media sites, online travel agencies, search engines or online review sites.
- Identify where your core guests are visible and participate actively. Prioritise those websites.
- Share the positive reviews widely and especially where your guests “hang out” on social media
What are some of the challenges and opportunities in the area?
The most obvious challenge is to have an overview of the review websites and the content that is being published about your hotel. It takes time, resources and skills to monitor and respond to reviews in a professional manner. It is not a “pure marketing” function in that there are overlaps with hotel operations.
Choosing the right technology solution can also be a challenge with a variety of choices that include ReviewPro, Customer Alliance, Revinate among others. Smaller hotels may find the costs a prohibitive factor sometimes.
Even with the right technology, identifying a key person to manage online reviews and being responsible for reputation management is critical and finding the right person can be challenging at the best of times.
In such instances, options include outsourcing to specialist agencies that provide reputation management as a service.
Equally, the actual product and service element that your hotel represents is probably the most important challenge as well as opportunity. Providing fabulous service combined with positioning and pricing that matches the product on offer will continue to be the foundation for achieving the type of reputation that drives bookings at the right prices.