Trends & Insights The Independent Hotel Series – Part III: Focusing On Online Reputation Management Laura Badiu // October 19, 2017 // 6 minute read When it comes to an independent hotel, you might not be able to rely on a prestigious name or a complex structure, to boost your popularity, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a spotless reputation. We all know by now that reputation is something that can make or break a business and entrepreneurs, businessmen and hoteliers who ignore the audience’s feedback and impressions don’t get too far. In our latest eBook, Branding Without The Brand Name - An independent Hoteliers Guide To Building Brand Value we designed the third chapter around this very subject. Reputation management is our favorite topic and it has definitely become a focus-point in the hospitality industry. Branded hotels and big chains, with a vast “heritage” backing up their name, might have a better start than independent, non-branded properties. When a new Accor hotel opens, people automatically rely on a great reputation, which was built and nurtured in time. If you manage an independent hotel though, you might have to put in some extra work into its reputation among travelers, but worry not, because there are so many easy and effective ways of doing it. Your reputation speaks louder than any type of self-advertisement Let’s take it from the beginning: the best way of making a positive impression is by offering a quality product, in this case, a proper and clean accommodation, excellent service, great food, etc. This is something that you have to work on internally, but feedback from your guests should constantly influence the evolvement of your hotel and the services that you offer. Always take suggestions and adjust accordingly. Moving forward, it’s important to know that the way in which you take care of your hotel’s reputation affects the overall impression a traveler gets. Not taking into considerations reviews and guest feedback and not answering to it, in the eyes of the guest translates to not caring about his experience and well-being at your hotel. It is imperative to always reply to reviews and impressions, regardless if they are positive or negative. If you need more in-depth guidelines and tips & tricks, we recommend checking our best practice guides: How to Properly Reply to Positive Reviews and How to Properly Reply to Negative Reviews. To make things easier for you and save you some valuable time, you should try an effortless approach to managing guest feedback, through a platform such as the one that we offer here, at TrustYou. There are so many specialized portals out there, such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, etc, that you might sometimes struggle with noticing and replying to incoming reviews. By using a guest feedback management platform, all of the guest-generated reviews are gathered in one place, to make things as easy and smooth as possible. Asking for feedback usually results in better reviews and scores Also, keep in mind that directly asking for guest feedback shows travelers that you genuinely care about their experience at your hotel and you do take their input into consideration. This is why it’s important to use a guest survey, specifically tailored to your needs in regards to feedback. The TrustYou survey tool enables hoteliers to customize a post-stay survey, that is very user-friendly and easy to put together. Guests can give their honest opinion of their stay and impressions of your hotel and send the results back to you, for internal feedback or even publish the results on Google, which gives your hotel more visibility on the web. Case studies have proven that generally, asking for reviews results in better scores and overall feedback, since guests are left with the idea that you are interested in their impressions and are constantly looking to improve your services and amenities, to better fit the traveler’s needs and expectations. Keep an eye out for your hotel’s social media accounts, since they can be valuable sources for feedback Apart from guest surveys, you need to keep in mind that social media has grown so much in the last decade and it became a valuable source for reviews and feedback for businesses. Make sure to enable the feature on your hotel’s social media accounts and constantly monitor the incoming reviews. Receiving reviews on Facebook, for example, can be as important as the ones that you get on TripAdvisor or other specialized portals, because they are out there for anyone to see. Even if you are afraid of sometimes stumbling upon a not so great impression, it’s crucial to be present and take responsibility. Thank the guest for taking the time and write a review and see what you can do to improve, based on his feedback. Don’t fear what other social media users might think of that particular review, most people don’t expect perfection. But we do appreciate when the management is present and involved and shows that it cares. At the end of the day, you have to look at this entire process as a marketing strategy and a highly effective one. Your hotel’s reputation is the thing that can get your business to new heights or, in case you do not pay attention to it, it has the power to bring your business down. Always keep in mind that you have an audience and the public opinion matters more than anything. Your reputation is and will always be an important deciding factor in the booking process, so it’s strongly recommended to pay close attention to it and to actually, genuinely take into consideration your guests’ feedback. Key takeaways: Use a management platform to manage all of the incoming reviews Always reply to guest reviews, good or not so great Ask for feedback from your guests and let them know that their opinions matter and are highly appreciated Mind social media, since it can be a valuable source for reviews Don’t forget to download our free eBook to get even more insights and tips on how to make the most off your hotel’s website and your non-branded status!