Online reviews are useful in many ways. They point out issues that we may not have thought of ourselves. They give us insight on places we’ve never been. They help us make decisions in a more educated way. That’s all great for us as consumers, but what about business owners? What kind of ill effects will they notice as a result of negative or inaccurate comments? In the end, the potential for financial and reputational harm is immense. That’s why many companies are placing great importance on managing their online reputation. Here are five reasons owners in the hospitality industry will do well to spend some time on this task.
Change in Booking Procedure
As brick-and-mortar travel agencies have been superseded by online booking sites. Online travel sites make it very simple for users to compare multiple lodging options at once and consider features beyond price. There are dozens of travel portals that solicit customer reviews, so there is no end to the feedback potential clients can view before booking. Plus, members of the millennial generation are known to be prolific online reviewers.
Importance of Reviews
Perhaps you’ve seen the statistic that 93 percent of travel-site users indicate they read reviews before making a buying decision. More than 50 percent say they wouldn’t book a hotel without perusing client comments first. That means reviews — even negative reviews — are getting a lot of readership. This is where business owners have to take a proactive approach. Thank clients for positive reviews, and respond to negative ones. The only thing worse than uncomplimentary remarks is silence on the company’s part.
Dealing With Negativity
There is a bit of an art in answering negative reviews, but offering a response is absolutely crucial to the health of your business’s online reputation. By viewing it as an opportunity instead of a chore, you can end up with a better outcome for both you and the customer. First of all, check comments for accuracy and respond politely to anything that isn’t correct. If someone complains about something specific, don’t just apologize, start a dialogue about how they would have liked it to be instead. Owners can get fresh ideas and learn a lot from feedback by customers.
Effect on the Bottom Line
In the end, the importance of online reputation management for the hospitality industry comes down to revenue. Poor reviews with no response or the lack of an attempt to make things right will encourage potential customers to go elsewhere. Owners will book more guests if they take steps to correct complaints and offer compensation to people who had a poor experience. Don’t forget that search engines rank businesses with more and better reviews higher in their listings, so every interaction your company has with a reviewer can boost your rankings.
Take a Proactive Approach
Rather than being reluctant to manage your business’s online reputation, look at it as a chance to learn about your customers and their desires. You might even give them a little perk during their next visit after they leave a positive review. Promote hashtags at your establishment that put your company name out into the social media world. Maybe have online photo galleries on your business’s website that visitors can add to and peruse. Ask guests to share tales of good customer service with their social media followers. These tactics may seem over-reaching to you, but it can’t hurt to ask.
The hospitality industry has a lot of opportunity to gain customers by effectively managing its online reputation. With a positive approach and some diligence, the task can be rewarding for everyone.