Many believe that the onset of the digital age has been both a blessing and a curse for the hospitality industry. The truth remains that the internet is a part of our lives and is not something we should be afraid of. By taking measured steps, any business can transform areas that might seem problematic into a positive revenue-generating experience. Online reviews come under this category.
Hotels cannot anymore sit back and rely on word-of-mouth to work its magic. The competition is too fierce, and much is on the line financially to leave everything to chance. At the same time, staying offline, scared of negative reviews, is why many hotels are struggling these days.
Instead, property owners should be working tirelessly with a professional hotel marketing agency to be proactive in getting reviews for their establishment and using them to boost sales.
Our tips on how to use hotel guest reviews to increase sales focus on different techniques that are easy to implement.
Moreover, when working with a hotel marketing agency, it is possible to integrate many of these tasks into your overall hotel branding and marketing strategy.
How can hotels use customers to promote sales?
There are two basic ways in which hotels can use customers to increase sales.
It’s either through word-of-mouth, which is not entirely in your control.
Or through feedback or reviews, which can be in writing or online. The latter, in particular, is extremely helpful in marketing, as we will find out below.
Word-of-mouth promotion in the digital age
Of course, guests personally recommend your hotel or don’t to their family and friends based on their experience.
However, nowadays, thanks to social media, you are privy to some of their thoughts and feedback, the ones they decide to share publicly.
How does this help boost hotel sales?
- Firstly, a positive unsolicited review shared on social media increases your reach among the guest’s followers.
- At the same time, if it is something negative, you can respond and rectify whatever the guest did not like.
- Moreover, you can re-post positive social media hotel reviews on your handles as social proof to strengthen your online brand.
To encourage guests to share feedback or visual media, work with your hotel digital agency and develop a social media management schedule that promotes specific hashtags and influencer marketing across platforms to increase direct bookings.
How to use hotel guest reviews to increase sales?
It is possible to use hotel reviews to boost sales in several different ways. While some require on-site changes, others include making them a part of your online presence and marketing plan.
Showcasing reviews on your hotel website
A website is every hotel’s biggest platform for sales and marketing. Therefore, showcasing hotel reviews on your website is vital. It saves customers from having to go elsewhere to read about the hotel while assuring them that you are the right choice.
Your hotel marketing agency can assist you with the correct placement of reviews and make templates that are appealing and stand out.
Points to remember when integrating hotel reviews into your website;
- Reviews on your website should be a mix of personally received feedback (from your on-site guestbook or received through email from customers) and those that link back to third-party sites. The latter gives the reviews credibility as visitors can verify the same.
- One of the preliminary aims of a good website design is reducing the bounce rate. That means stopping the visitor from leaving your website before they make a booking. To do so, it helps to have hotel reviews on the website’s main page. At the same time, you should subtly place review templates throughout the booking process as it continues to reassure the guest.
- When displaying reviews on your website, pick the ones highlighting the hotel experience and property features. Detailed reviews give future clients a feel of what you have to offer. However, while generic and non-descriptive positive reviews improve rankings, they do not provide valuable information to the person deciding on a stay.
- When planning a strategy on how to use hotel guest reviews to increase sales with your marketing agency, include regular updating of the reviews on the website. No matter how good a review is, it’ll hold very little value if it dates back more than a year. Remember, guests usually consider the latest reviews more than the older ones.
- In the past, we discussed the importance of having a website for your hotel. A vital aspect of the website is making it mobile-first, simply because more people than ever now use their smartphones to make bookings. Therefore, when it comes to showcasing reviews, ensure you do not exclude them from the mobile version of the website.
- Many small hotels often overlook having a media page on their website. We at Adigital regularly encourage hotel owners to share any third-party promotions with their website visitors. A media page can include detailed hotel reviews, YouTube videos, and inclusions in list articles by magazines, newspapers, bloggers, and the like.
- Video reviews are another great way to convince prospective customers. You can put them across various strategic locations on the website. These reviews are typically by guests who are regulars at your property.
Responding to positive and negative reviews
Whether through your internal customer support team or a hotel marketing agency, you must respond to a good number of positive and negative reviews online. This is true especially on TripAdvisor, Bookings.Com, and Google.
Again, responding to hotel reviews can directly impact your sales and most certainly helps with branding. But here are some more reasons;
- Replying to a negative review can sometimes remove misconceptions. A guest might have based their feedback on misinformation, and a response is your opportunity to resolve it.
- Regularly responding to reviews tells prospective guests that you are active and consider feedback positively.
- Research has shown that hotels that interact with guest reviews do better.
Points to remember when responding to reviews;
- Here is where things get tricky. Responding to online reviews is good, but you should not overdo it. Maintain a balance and skip a few positive reviews now and then.
- You might have noticed that we said “skip a few positive reviews” above. That’s because you should definitely respond to the negative ones.
- Using a response template is perfectly fine. But make it personal, adding points the guest mentions in their review. A reply means little if you cut and paste the same for everyone.
- Although leaving a response to a review is good, one from the management is excellent. It does hold more value. For any feedback that includes critical issues, ask the hotel manager or owner to leave the response, and make sure you mention that in the reply.
If you want to use hotel guest reviews to increase sales, ensure you have many positive ones.
The more positive reviews you get, the higher your ranking on OTAs and rating sites, increasing your reach and placing your property in front of more eyes.
Again, most travelers search for properties by reviewing their ratings and feedback. However, even if you have a good star rating, continue to work on getting written reviews.
By increasing price
Yes! It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. Hotels that range higher can undoubtedly get away with increasing their price.
Most travelers are okay with paying a little more when they know a hotel has many confirmed positive reviews.
Of course, you need to justify the increase in price by maintaining your service, amenities, and facilities.
Making actual changes and improvements
One of the easiest ways to use hotel reviews to boost sales is by taking the feedback and making any changes mentioned in it.
Let us understand this using an example.
For instance, a guest has given you a four-star review on TripAdvisor. While they enjoyed their stay, the guest stated they found insufficient towels in the bathroom and had to request extra ones every time. The issue was because they were a family of three staying in a double room.
A good response would be to thank them for the feedback and inform them that you will be more aware of the problem the next time they visit.
A better response would be to inform them that you have changed policy and will now place four towels as a general rule in every bathroom. This solves the present problem and considers anyone wanting to use more than one towel during the day.
As a result, there is a good chance the guest might increase their rating. Even if they do not, the guest and others reading your response now know that you take feedback seriously and act on it.
Gaining competitive advantage
Positive reviews and social interaction with guests who leave feedback give you a competitive advantage.
Travelers typically compare ratings and reviews of hotels they are short-listing for a stay.
So, if they see a hotel is active with their responses and has more positive reviews, they are likely to go ahead and book a room with them.
Moreover, at a specialized hotel marketing agency like Adigital, we perform in-depth competitor analysis. This involves analyzing their reviews to determine what visitors like or dislike and then suggesting changes to help increase your sales.
Why are hotel guest reviews important?
Establishments, especially owners of smaller properties, often underestimate guest reviews. They should not.
Let’s recap why hotel guest reviews are important;
Reviews are among the top elements that lead to bookings and increased sales, especially considering that over 80% of travelers read online reviews before choosing a hotel.
Reviews allow guests to have a voice and share their opinions, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Guest reviews are an excellent opportunity for hotel management to determine where they are lacking and make necessary changes.
Online reviews that future customers can read give the hotel credibility and prove its existence. It gives them a glimpse into your property through those who have previously stayed in your hotel.
Positive online reviews on OTAs, Google, and elsewhere improve your rankings, expanding your reach and resulting in more bookings and sales.