Ok, we all learned that a perfect service and product offering in consistency with the expectations generated during the sales process is the most important strategy to protect the online reputation of any hospitality organization.
Considering this as the center of handling your online reputation what would be the next step? How could any hospitality business try to increase the total amount of reviews on Tripadvisor, Holidaycheck, Qype and other review sites? What is the right strategy without pushing their customers too much or leaving a negative impression behind?
Is there ONE overall shining strategy to be implemented?
Not really. Speaking regularly with hoteliers in different regions the overall feedback has been that exactly this topic is not an easy task and the respective approach throughout the market is very different starting with: A. ‘Our guidelines do not allow us to ask our guests for any reviews no matter what’ as mentioned by several bigger hotel groups.’ Or the other extreme: B. ‘We ask every single guest to leave a review during check out, no matter whether they enjoyed their stay or not’. Sounds fair, but potentially most of us would define their strategy somewhere in between…
What could be the solution?
Speak with your guests. Encourage your team to approach your guests during check-out and ask about their experience. In case they had a great stay, perfect….go ahead and ask them very kindly for a review if time allows.e.g. On the channel they booked, so you have a broader appearance on the many different channels. If they had an issue during the stay try to resolve it, if possible, or at least listen and show you care trying to improve your services every day. That´s at least the base of the concept some hotel groups are following today being very successful in their respective markets.
Best practices examples, case studies and workshops with the right concepts to avoid negative reviews respectively generate a good amount of positive reviews by REAL guests do exist on many blogs, websites and within training materials. If you are interested in some ideas feel free to contact opensmjle or one of the many online reputation consultants such as Daniel E. Craig, Josiah Mackenzie or Thomas Hendele (for the German speaking market). I would guess they are happy to share some ideas or even have a workshop or tutorial organized for you.
How could your strategy be supported technically?
Now, if you covered the strategy part what could be another idea to boost the total amount of reviews?
A. Online Reputation Software:
Providers such as Customer Alliance or TrustYou – and most certainly some others – offer survey tools to send your own request to the guests having stayed with your hotel. These incoming surveys can then be split by percentages to multiple channels such as Tripadvisor, Holidaycheck or Google+ or the own survey widget on the hotel / hotel group website. Pretty nice idea actually and as confirmed by some hotels using the technology pretty powerful, as you can push the amount of reviews on the channels needed.
B. Review Sites:
If you don´t have an agreement with a provider offering such a survey tool what could be another option? You could start using Tripadvisor´s Review Express allowing to send bulk emails to up to 1.000 guests having stayed with your hotel based on the provided email addresses asking them to write reviews, which later on will be published on Tripadvisor. This could be a headache, if you cannot extract this information for example into a CSV file from your front office solution, but in case done regularly this could be pretty powerful as well.