96% of TripAdvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning trips and booking hotels.
This statistic speaks for itself, reviews matter. Word of mouth referrals and third party reviews are more important now than ever before. It’s vital that independent hotels work with this growing trend and accommodate their strategies to use it to their benefit.
Also, TripAdvisor found that more than half of their users will not book a property that doesn’t have any reviews.
Key takeaway lesson? Reviews are essential to drive bookings and increase revenue for your independent property.
Building a community around your brand is essential for survival and helps your independent property compete with large, branded chain hotels. Building an online community takes time and consistency. Start with setting up social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Post consistently and in-line with your brand. Always respond to online reviews, whether positive or negative and encourage guests to leave you feedback.
The ideal time frame for responding to a review is within 24 hours. This means that in order to respond in time, you need to be checking your channels for reviews constantly. Some sites will notify you when a review is left, others will not. Make sure you are regularly checking your different review channels (Yelp, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Google, other social channels) and responding appropriately to guests.
Most likely, negative feedback will come. It’s important to recognize this and build a plan for how to respond to it. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling defensive, but remember to take a breath, remove yourself from the situation and respond with courtesy and respect.
Did a guest rave about your pillow mints? Put a whole bowl out for them during their next stay! Tailoring feedback or offers to guests return visit shows that you listened and that you care about them individually. These small efforts will help resolve issues, build rapport and increase return visits from travelers.
Nothing goes further than being true to your independent brand and being authentic. Guests can tell when a response or action is tailored and personalized rather than repeated and monotonized. Be authentic with your guests in all interactions, from their first call to your property until the walk in the lobby doors for their stay, every interaction matters. This authenticity helps build positive relationships with guests which in turn leads to positive reviews.
Need more help creating a positive review community? Learn more about IBC Solutions here.