The role of travel agents in booking a holiday is dead. It's only a matter of time till all these retails outlets close up and all the efforts are focused online. Accommodation providers know this, and if they don't, they should, and most focus mainly on increasing bookings through various online websites and booking engines.
Some of the big players in the market spring to mind such as wotif.com, tripadvisor.com, and asiarooms.com, as well as hundreds more, and it's a big job to manage all of them, but vital. An Accommodation's online reputation is made up of the following areas:
- Consumer Reviews
- Social Networks
- Travel Site Listings
- Google listings (PPC, SEO and Google Maps)
First step is to find all the reviews. Do a simple Google search for '[Your hotel Name]+review' and trawl through every page. Read every review objectively, and aim to action the problem and follow up the user and site. Quite often, a bad review, if followed up quickly, can be addressed and resolved.
A bad review will stick around like a bad smell. If you let it fester, it can and will have an immediate impact on bookings through the site in question, and this can take some time to overcome – just from one unhappy guest. If the review is very recent, see if you can contact the user or guest directly and see if you can resolve any issues they may have had-it's this kind of follow up and care which can sometimes turn someone's opinion on its head.
Don't be afraid to pick up the phone either-no one said you couldn't go old school! If the review is very old, or questionable, you can ask that the site remove the review in light of the new management, or unauthentic nature of the message. Most sites such as tripadvisor.com, have mechanisms to alert them to change of ownership, and also to flag review you are unsure about.
The best offense is a good defence. Be vigilant and quick to act. To monitor this properly going forward, it is best you manage and read these reviews more regularly. Go to Google Alerts, and request they ping you every time a mention of your accommodation is indexed by the Google Search engines – this is being proactive without too much effort on your part. Some key take home points:
- Find reviews good and bad and address them
- Set up alerts and manage future reviews
I will be splitting this post over a few weeks, as there are many important factors for these business' to think about in order to run a savvy business really benefiting to the utmost from online consumers.
Hotel Sign on a Building Outside a sunny day. What does your online 'sign' say about your business?