Get Your Guests to Open Up: How to build social reviews to build business
By Gabe Aldridge Founding Member, The SUPERGROUP | February 03, 2013
The 2012 Local Consumer Review survey conducted by Search Engine Land, found that 52 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. The survey also reports that Restaurants / Cafes were the most searched businesses, followed by, you guessed it, Hotels/B&B's/Guest Houses. You want more proof that potential guests rely on online reviews? In 2011, research firm Forrester found that nearly 50 percent of consumers won't book a hotel that doesn't have online reviews.
In today's world where third-party online endorsements are coveted, how can you get guests to open up, and share with others their experiences about your property?
First, you need to establish your objectives before designing any strategy. Do you want to solicit all-encompassing reviews where guests share their overall experience, or is there a specific area you want to focus on? For instance, if you've found that many guests have chosen your hotel over another because of the spa, then you may want to tailor your initiative around that area because you are more likely to generate positive reviews for a portion of your business that has proven to be a key differentiator. Either way, the strategy to solicit more online reviews, both on external sites and your own, is the same.
Ask and You Shall Receive
You need to build your points of engagements with consumers, and the very best time to do that, and to solicit reviews, is when guests are still on your property. As basic as this may sound, one of the most successful ways to get a review is to simply ask, but you have to make the requests at multiple consumer touch-points.
For example, after providing a map of the local area, the concierge might explain to guests that the hotel is making a concerted effort to let their patrons' opinions and experiences be known, and that their feedback would be appreciated. With the map, he or she can hand out a card that points the guests to a specific area on your website to provide a review. The card can also contain a QR code, and information on how guests can review the hotel on TripAdvisor, Travelocity, and your social channels like Facebook and Twitter.