Contributed by John Pol, eStrategist
Customer reviews are one of the most powerful business and marketing tools available to hotel properties. Online reviews can provide hotel businesses with insights on improving their businesses as well as powerful recommendations to new, potential customers. Therefore, these reviews need to be embraced and encouraged.
Although the creation of these customer reviews is out of your immediate hands, hoteliers can leverage online customer reviews to make their hotel stand out and improve its online visibility. Employ sound strategies to encourage happy hotel guests to share their experience and leave reviews about the hotel.
Here are six ways to encourage your hotel guests to leave these valuable reviews:
- At visitor check-out: providing a flyer/post card during check-out time at the front desk is a wonderful opportunity to encourage guests to post reviews. This card should have links to your website or online review websites such as Google Places, Bing, Local.com, Yelp, Tripadvisor.com, hotels.com, etc.
- QR codes: placing QR codes on throughout the property (ideally at check-out/front desk) creates easy access to review sites through mobile devices and smart phones. These QR codes may also be placed on printed materials such as business cards, flyers, post cards, magazines etc.
- Offer rewards or incentives: Travellers are busy these days and posting a hotel review is not exactly on the top of their priority list. By providing rewards or incentives – such as a ‘thank you for sharing our hotel’ discount code for their future stay, can be incentive enough for your happy guests to spread the word. Do be careful with your incentives as some review sites do not like paid reviews.
- Request Reviews on Your Website: Create a special guest reviews page that links customers from your site to various review sites. Link customers directly to your profile and include brief instructions on how to fill out the review form. Many customers intend to submit reviews and then forget. By including links directly from your Website to your review profiles, and reminding people of the review page on your homepage, you can easily generate more reviews going forward.
- Generate reviews by email: We recommend expanding email marketing efforts by including reminders about review sites in your messages. Sending out feedback request emails 24-48 hours after clients check-out is a great way to emphasize customer care. In addition, encouraging your customers to rate your performance on review sites via emails they are already receiving is a no-brainer.
- Simply ask: If a customer is satisfied, they may refer a friend to you, but they likely won’t go out of their way to leave you a review. Be proactive and train your hotel staff accordingly.
A good way to increase your chances of acquiring more positive reviews is to ask happy and satisfied guests. This is a tactic that the entire staff needs to make a routine part of their day. You’ll be surprised how quickly the number of company reviews will increase.
Building customer reviews for your hotel property on the major online review sites deserves your time and attention. By implementing these six quick simple tips you’ll be able to do it effectively and as part of your natural every day marketing plan.
In addition, with the recent Google ‘Panda Update’, these reviews have become a legitimate ranking factor, relevant to how your hotel property ranks locally in search engines.
Finally, don’t fear negative reviews. Negative reviews help you improve by uncovering weaknesses to which you may not have been privy. Embrace them and take your customer service to new heights in 2012 and beyond.