It’s in the Stars: Yelp and Hotel Ratings

This past fall, Yelp announced it would acquire its European rival Qype, further strengthening the review site’s global influence on travelers, diners, and more. With the site becoming more universal, you might wonder just how important those stars are.

According to a Berkeley study, a half-star increase in ratings on Yelp can make a restaurant 30-49% more likely to sell out reservations. Or, how about this: The Boston Consulting Group reports that hotel and travel businesses that advertise on Yelp receive, on average, $36,000 in annual revenues from the review site. For some businesses, that’s a big number, for others, not so much. But most leisure travelers rely on a variety of review sites to make their hotel choices, and I believe Yelp is an important site to tend in order to capture that business, even if you don’t see that your guests are coming straight from Yelp to your door.

Where to start? Claim your Yelp hotel listing. As with most online interactions, don’t be overly sales-y with your content, just tell people what and where you are and why they want to stay with you. Write your description, upload photos, and if you haven’t already, start responding to your reviews—right away!

If you have already claimed your listing, review it. Are you using everything they offer? There’s a section called “Meet the Manager” that I don’t see enough hotels using. What an easy way to be personal (using the right voice, of course) on what might otherwise be an impersonal forum.

Optimize your content. I know… there’s an ongoing debate about the value of SEO and keyword strategies, but I don’t think it ever hurts to stay focused on a few valuable keywords. You might as well: it’s easy and it will help guests find you in the sea of internet words.

Then, decide if you want to try special offers—like check-in offers, for instance—or advertising. Maybe it’s worth factoring into your marketing just to see what happens. As with most online advertising, the return seems to far exceed the investment.

Tony Ciccarone

Tony Ciccarone is a web developer who is experienced in making high-quality professional websites, writing clean & reusable code, and creating data-driven web applications.

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