Why is Online Reputation Management (ORM) Important to Properties?
In today’s digital era, your property’s reputation is no longer limited to offline sharing and communication. Opinions about your destination are widely spread throughout online platforms such as booking or review websites to which all Internet users from different regions can approach. Therefore, Reputation Management is available as a practice of monitoring what people say about your property and improving your reputation across a range of online platforms. Here are some reasons why Online Reputation Management (ORM) is a tool that hoteliers must have nowadays:
1. Online reviews influence the hotel online booking decision
According to recent research by TripAdvisor, 72% of respondents always or frequently reading reviews about places before deciding to stay and eat, or things to do, and the percentage is even higher for accommodation bookings (81% will read reviews before booking a destination to stay). Moreover, nearly 8 out of 10 TripAdvisor users (79%) are more likely to book a hotel with a higher bubble rating when choosing between two otherwise identical properties, and over half (52%) agree that they would never book a hotel with no reviews. Other research also reveals that 79% of online travelers tend to read from 6 to 12 reviews on average before they come to the booking decision. These key statistics have proved that review is now a vital part of the global customers’ purchase process.
2. Good ORM results in a high level of customer loyalty
What people think of your brand influences how future customers will engage with your offers. A good brand reputation helps you earn the customer’s trust and engagement. Some loyal customers may become your brand ambassadors; they’re more credible and relatable (and thus, more effective) than big-name brand ambassadors, or social media influencers because they are your everyday customers and know your products/services well.
3. It builds brand equity and recognition
Brand equity is the value of your brand for your property. It’s based on customer perception: customers will tend to buy a product/service they recognize and trust. When a brand is recognized and trusted to the point that the customer recognizes it and feels a deep psychological bond with it, your brand equity is valuable indeed. ORM contributes to establishing positive brand recognition and reducing the customers’ hesitation when they decide to buy your service.
Mistakes Hotels Often Makes in Online Reputation Management
Every hotelier wants to have an immaculate online reputation, and many of them understand how important ORM is. However, we find that properties still make some typical mistakes which can hurt your effort to build a reputation. Here are 3 key mistakes:
1. Not engaging with reviewers
Properties may see themselves in one or more of these cases when they manage their online reviews.
- Silent to what people say about your place. This group of hotels do not respond and react to guest reviews on third-party review websites such as Trip Advisor, Booking.com, Google, etc., or even on their own channels like website or Facebook, Instagram.
- Respond at the last minute. Guests leave the question on online platforms when they want to know more about services and receive the response after a few weeks or even months. If you are one of those guests, would you feel upset? Guests will interpret your unresponsiveness as a lack of interest in receiving questions & feedback, and these practices certainly do not reflect the core values of the hospitality industry.
- Respond in the same format. Some hotels use this mechanism as the auto-answer to all reviews as fast as they receive reviews. However, after that hotels should often check and monitor the quality of their answers. Even though your auto-answer is created in the most generic meaning, guests are smart enough to know if it is truly given to them or just from an automatic system.
2. Avoiding responding to the negative feedback
Hotels tend to avoid answering bad reviews and no response will lead to damage to the brand because the reviewers may interpret you as making no effort to fix the problem. So, instead of keeping silent, hotels need to be proactive in responding when customers report their bad experiences online. The best way is to follow them up with an apology and promise to make amendments in the service. This makes the customers happy and also puts your hotel in a good position.
3. Not asking for guest reviews
Many hotels do miss this important point. Most of the guests are not going to give reviews about your hotel. You have to pursue and encourage them to provide you with feedback on Tripadvisor and other online review websites.
5 Tips for Hotels’ Effective Reputation Management
1. Respond to reviews on all channels, not just TripAdvisor
It is true to say that TripAdvisor is the biggest hospitality review site worldwide, but it is not the only site showing what people say about your hotels. Instead of solely focusing on this site, there are other popular platforms people use to leave their reviews such as Google and OTAs’ review platforms like Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia, etc. Make sure that you collect most guest reviews of your place on online sites and respond to them.
Ideally, you should upgrade your review management strategy by:
- Monitoring at least 5 of the online channels that bring you the most bookings
- Responding to all negative reviews on all channels
- Picking 2-3 channels where you’ll expend more energy on creating a stellar image for your hotel reviews
2. Speed up your hotel review management
The review process needs to be done fast, because each second that passes can hurt your business, especially for the bad reviews. It’s important to respond to negative feedback on online channels in less than 24 hours. This way you avoid losing potential customers who would have clicked away from your property’s listing based on the reviews they read. It has been shown that 90% of travelers agree that a professional response to a negative review improves their impression of your property. So make sure to respond to any negative feedback swiftly.
3. Personalize the responses to the reviewers
People love to be remembered and respected. So, always mention their name or online nickname in your greeting in the response and include information about what he/she has talked about. This proves you are truly listening to them and respect their opinions. Making your response unique and personalized for them is a must-do.
4. Encourage customers to leave their reviews
Customers often forget to give feedbacks online after their stays, so it is time to actively ask for their reviews. You can gather reviews by sending emails to your guests requesting a review of their stay or you can create a special page for collecting feedback and reviews on your website. Asking for reviews at the point of sale is another way to receive the reviews more immediately, personally, and directly. For example, during checkout or towards the end of a customer’s visit, you hand over a device, like an iPad or tablet, to your customer so that they can fill out a short form. Any feedback they share through the form can then be set up to be published as an online review.
5. Use ORM tools
This is the best solution for helping you manage your online reputation with ease. This tool supports all critical steps you need for an effective reputation management process. From monitoring all reviews and respond, to stimulate guests in leaving reviews on various platforms, the tool will handle and save much of your time.
Online Reputation is an important asset that hotels/properties cannot ignore. At Hotel Link, we offer Reputation Management Solution to help hoteliers promote their ORM effectiveness. You will gain deeper insights into your guest experiences, position yourself strategically to maximum exposure and impact, and build your brand on more than 40 online platforms across the globe. Contact us now for details.