Hotel Reputation Management and Your 2014 Marketing Plan

Marketing meeting

It’s already that time again: budget planning, marketing strategies, allocating for digital efforts. I’m not really here to tell you what percentage of your hotel marketing budget to put toward online efforts (likely more of it than you currently are) or whether print advertising is dead but, instead, to discuss the role of hotel reputation management in your hotel marketing for 2014.

Where you place reputation management in your marketing strategy and budget says a lot about how you approach it. I often find online reputation management buried in marketing plans somewhere in the social media section and often as a line item for software. I once wrote that reputation management starts before the guest walks through the door, occurs throughout the stay, and ends, rather than begins, with reviews (if it ends at all, but that’s another topic). If you subscribe to this belief then reputation management should be a guiding principle of your 2014 marketing plan, something that you consider as you think through SEO, paid search, social media strategies, distribution channels—everything.

For instance, consider the far reaching and complex impact of reputation management when you’re thinking through ad spend and Google Hotel Finder. Reviews haven’t always had such a direct tie to distribution, but with the growth of meta search, reviews are everywhere through the booking process. Really—on every single page. The only place reviews often drop off are on the brand or hotel booking page.

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My point is that a hotel can’t consider ad spend anymore without taking into account the presence and impact of guest reviews. Reviews have a very visual and direct influence on purchasing. Reputation is every step of the way. Don’t bury it in your marketing plan as a software expense. While software is critical to keeping up with your hotel reviews these days, reputation management is far more than that. How and when you respond to guests throughout every interaction is reputation management—from their questions posted to Facebook pre-arrival; to the presence and demeanor of your staff when they are on property; to the response you offer when they are both pleased and displeased after they’ve returned home. It should help you craft not only your hotel marketing strategy but also your operational plans. So don’t end your 2014 marketing plan with reputation management; begin with it.

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