Online reviews are inevitable – especially in the hospitality industry. Whether you like it or not, your guests are going to review their stay – either at a review site like “Tripadvisor.com” or on their own blog. The key to harnessing the power of the online review is to bring that unique, fresh and FREE content onto your own website.
Content, and lots of it, more than any other factor, is going to help you rank well in the search engines. Well optimized content is going to help even more. But, realistically speaking, WRITING content is something you’re hoping little fairies, brownies or elves do at night while you’re getting your zzz’s. Unfortunately, the brownies, fairies, and elves are busy hiding your car keys and removing all of your matching socks from your drawer – they don’t have time to write content and the job falls on your shoulders to get it done.
Honestly, as an agency we CAN write content for your website – but truthfully – you’re better off doing it yourself. Yes, an agency can provide a quality product, don’t misunderstand my intention. But have they BEEN to the property, do they really “know” how cool your pool is? Probably not – so the best content comes from those who have experienced it.
Okay – this is where we get to consumer generated content (CGC) and reviews. If you provide your guests a place to leave a review of their stay with you, ON YOUR WEBSITE, you’re looking at thousands of words of content added every week or month. Content you didn’t have to write, content you don’t have to PAY for – great stuff, eh?
I know you’re concerned about the negative reviews – with good reason. But instead of dreading this inevitable occurrence, embrace it. Use a negative review on your website as a way to show shoppers and future guests how much you CARE about each and every experience given on your property or properties. Offer the negative reviewer a discount for coming back and trying again – give your email address so they can contact you directly to resolve the problem. The more public you are with this information and resolution, the more you CARE about your guests, the more consumers are going to trust you to give them a really great time, or make it right if things so wrong.
It’s a scary step, and implementing a review platform on your site can cost a bit – but the results can show a positive ROI in a short amount of time. A recent article in the newsletter about a case-study featured at HotelMarketing.com outlined how trusted reviews featured on your site DOUBLE your revenue. So mix your on-site reviews with a feed of your reviews from Tripadvisor.com. Lend credibility to what is read ON your site with a set of unbiased reviews from an independent site.
For the most part, people who consider consumer reviews are a picky bunch. They tend to discount a set of all 5-star reviews and they also tend to discount ONE bad review in a set of pretty good reviews. Keep this in mind when showing reviews on your site, don’t JUST show the great stuff, lend credibility with a little good and a little not so good. That being said, don’t let a set of comments turn into a public dirty laundry session. If things stay amicable and constructive, leave it online. Name-calling and rudeness are never okay, no matter what the venue is.
Keyboards image from GothCandy