How to Understand Review Sites and How Hotels Can Use Them to Their Advantage

By Westley Berman E-Commerce Manager, Kokua Hospitality | May 10, 2015

Today, hoteliers have never been more connected through countless online resources to consult during the guest lifecycle-from check-in to check-out. Travelers' expectations have evolved significantly. Long gone are the days when just post reviews helped hotels fine tune their product and service. Nowadays, it is easier to learn from real-time reviews and on-site/post-stay surveys to learn how to best serve your guests.

TripAdvisor's TripBarometer infographic provides hoteliers very insightful information on how the hotel industry can best measure traveler sentiments and emerging hospitality trends. With the growing influence of online reviews on booking decision, it has never been more important for hoteliers to ensure that guests check out happy through social listening. Hotels should use the data offered by review sites to quickly identify, prioritize and implement changes that will have the greatest impact on their hotel.

Take Advantage of the Data Offered by Review Sites to Guide Your Efforts

This year, it is projected that online reputation management will see more spend by hoteliers than ever before. According to TripAdvisor, 60% of hoteliers say that they will invest more on online reputation management in 2015 compared to the previous 12 months(1). Online reviews put the power in the hands of the consumer, so having an employee dedicated to online reputation management that is able to monitor the reviews of the hotel on a daily basis will help your hotel succeed. Responding and addressing reviews, even the positive ones with a simple thank you, goes a long way in the eyes of the consumer. Don't let these negative reviews slip through the cracks, or the positive reviews go unnoticed-be ready to reply within 24 hours!

According to TripBarometer 2015, 77% say amenities are influential during the decision process. The amenities that travelers find most important when booking include free in-room Wi-Fi, free breakfast, in-room amenities, free shuttle service, and staff who speak the traveler's language(2). Hotel management teams should take action based on these reviews. For example, if your guests complain about the charge for in-room Wi-Fi service, this may be a good opportunity to consider including the fee in the room rate.

It is important to always ensure that your property detail information and photos are up-to-date on a monthly basis. There is nothing worse than a guest expecting one thing, like a full-service spa, and finding that all that's offered is a steam room. Managing expectations is so important, and being honest about your offerings is only going to help you in the long run.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.