In the days before the internet, when we chose hotels from brochures in travel agencies, it used to be fairly difficult to share reviews of hotels and other travel service providers. In fact, unless you happened to know someone who had been to a particular property, we generally had to rely on the sales blurb to make a decision on where to go.Fast forward a couple of decades and things have changed completely.
Social media is the new word of mouth and it’s now possible to share your opinions on almost anything with millions of people in the time it takes to type a few paragraphs and hit ‘send’.The rise of ORM This has altered the playing field for hotels and means that online reputation management (ORM) is now an essential part of both customer service and marketing. Owners need to keep a finger on that web-based pulse to find out how satisfied guests are with them and how they might improve their services in the future.
ORM means monitoring and acting on feedback received via digital sources to drive higher awareness and engagement and ultimately increase revenues and it is becoming increasingly important.According to a TripAdvisor study reported by Trip Barometer last year, ORM was the top investment priority for 2015 – higher even than renovations and technology. Hotel owners know they must set aside their resources if they are to avoid the negative effects of bad feedback. How to manage ORM The first and easiest way of keeping track of your reputation online is to always offer the best possible service you can, as this makes it more likely that people will be saying good things about you rather than bad. If your staff are friendly at all times and your rooms are meticulously cleaned, you reduce the chances of a photo or message going up on Twitter in complaint about rudeness or dirty bathrooms.
Another good tip is to establish monitoring tools, which a hospitality marketing agency should be able to set you up with if you’re not sure about how to go about this. They can be hugely valuable, as it’s almost impossible to keep on top of the constant online chatter going on across multiple platforms otherwise. Each time your hotel is mentioned on review sites or social networks, your monitoring tools will send you a notification so that you can check it out and respond if necessary, rather than having to wait until someone alerts you to it independently.Where to manage ORM There are now numerous sites that hotels need to cover in order to ensure their online reputation remains intact, with perhaps the most important being TripAdvisor. This has in excess of 350 million unique monthly visitors and now offers a booking function as well as the ability to leave reviews, so it is a veritable behemoth.
Facebook is another huge arena where people might be chatting about your hotel, as its users create an astonishing five billion posts each day. Not only should you be checking it for comments, but you should also be aiming to use it as a resource to post your own and boost your reputation that way.If people share your posts or comment on one saying they’ve stayed with you and enjoyed themselves, you can reap the rewards of the free promotion that results when this goes out to all their friends.Twitter is another important portal, as it’s increasingly the place people turn to for customer service contact these days. You may even find that people are tweeting to ask questions or complain while they’re still on the premises, so you need to be able to see this right away. There are numerous other social media and online portals that could be important for ORM so you need to do your research and find out which ones you have the resources to cover – and definitely think about those monitoring tools to make your life easier.What to do when something goes wrong Once you start ORM, you’ll hopefully find that travellers are saying some very positive things about your property.
However, there will invariably be bad reviews, whether it’s to do with the smell of the dining room, the decor or something else.If you do come across negativity, don’t ignore it or – worse – go on the defensive. Always respond and make messages or reviews that demand apologies your priority. Thank the person for their feedback and express disappointment that they were dissatisfied, then outline the steps you are taking to rectify the situation.As soon as you can, invite them to contact you directly to sort things out (and potentially give them a free stay to smooth things over) so they don’t engage you in a potentially difficult tit-for-tat where everyone can see.
ORM is a method of boosting guest satisfaction and hopefully increasing the number of bookings you receive, so do make sure you’re getting involved.