Contributed by John Pol, eStrategist
What is online reputation? Online reputation is how your brand is perceived online based on what content can be found in the Internet and can be highly influenced by what people are saying about your business.
In the digital age, search engines are the first online tool people use to search for information about the products and services of businesses before making a decision. Understanding your online reputation – as well as ways to protect, enhance, and manage this reputation – has never been more important. Several sources have confirmed that the quantity of online reviews directly impacts:
- Ranking in review sites
- Ranking in third-party distribution sites (OTSs)
- Ranking in search engines’ results pages
- Online Reputation
Today, the most trusted point of reference is online reviews or the “virtual word of mouth”. These user-generated reviews enable potential customers to hear the comments of others about a particular product/service/business prior to making a purchasing decision.
Reviews can be found in the form of numbered rankings, star ratings, recommendations, blog posts, photos and videos. These reviews appear on review sites, local business pages, reviewer profiles, news feeds, and social streams.
Positive, qualitative reviews for hotels and other businesses can lead to:
- Brand awareness
- Improved search ranking
- Increased click-through rate
- Increased engagement and brand loyalty
- Increased online visibility
- User-generated content
- Improved online reputation
- Increased Revenue
On the flipside, ignoring or not actively managing this “virtual word of mouth” can be detrimental to you business and revenue.
The following are five proactive ways to manage your online reputation to ensure that your business is seen in the best possible light throughout the web:
- Listen (On and Off-Line)
Start listening to what your clients have to say about your business and for what matters to your potential customers. Visit review sites, social channels, call logs, and feedback provided at the business property. Be sure to visit your competitors’ channels as well. This is a great way to listen to what clients are saying (positively and negatively) about their services, staff and business.
Place yourself in the mindset of your customers. Understand their wants, needs, and expectations. Use this information in your marketing, in training your staff, and improving your business.
When negative reviews and experiences are submitted online, make sure that you publicly respond to these comments in a timely manner. This shows that you are proactively involved and care about your clients’ input and experience, as well as interest in improving your services.
- Encourage Reviews
Proactively encouraging online reviews has several benefits (mentioned above). The greater number of reviews has the potential of becoming viral. People want to hear what others are saying and they want to participate in the conversation. Encouraging guests to leave reviews on multiple online channels also sets precedence for others to contribute valuable comments and feedback
- Engage and Provide Value
Creating a dialog on social channels and blogs is extremely important. Nurturing conversations is exceeding expectations and gets customers excited about the service you’re providing. Good business is about providing value to your customers. This can be done by sharing updates about local events, travel tips and recommendations, special offers, and sharing information that readers can use and implement.
Proactively participating in these five areas will put your hotel on a stable path to managing your online reputation.