Category Archives: Reviews

Survey: How Travelers Use Online Reviews

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In June 2013, BrightLocal, a leading SEO tool provider for local businesses, released results of a survey that examined consumer consumption of online reviews and how they influence their opinions and purchases from local businesses. The study found that 79% of consumer trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Software Advice, the leading provider of detailed reviews, comparisons, and research for online hotel management software buyers, decided to take this idea decided to take this idea a step further by determining HOW travelers use online hotel reviews. Continue reading

ResortsandLodges Launches Enhanced Marketing Center

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ResortsandLodges.com recently launched its enhanced marketing center, making it easy for clients to track campaign performance, manage online reservations taken through the RALBook availability search, and ensure that the information on client business listings is up to date.

The new marketing center features simplified navigation, and within the Activity, Business Listings, and Reports tabs, ResortsandLodges.com clients have the opportunity to personalize their unique business listing, track campaign performance, and so much more! Here is a small sampling of what the new marketing center allows properties to do:

Real-Time Chat & Support
Benefit – Allows properties to quickly connect with knowledgeable customer support specialists.

Robust Lead Management Tools
Benefit – Allows property managers to quickly identify and connect with their hottest qualified leads.

Streamlined Account Management
Benefit – Update high-resolution images, video, deals, packages, and listing information all from one screen.

Online Bookings
Benefit – Properties can sync all of their available rooms through the RALBook availability search, as well as manage and approve reservations through their newly enhanced marketing center.

Travel Widgets

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Also new to the ResortsandLodges.com Marketing Center are website widgets available to display on a property’s homepage. If a property has been featured in any of our Top Lists, that property can attach a “Top Property” widget to their homepage. This is an easy way to show third-party validation as a top property, and links travelers back to the Top List in which a client is featured.

Similarly, the ResortsandLodges.com Traveler Rating Widget signifies that a client’s business listing has an average traveler rating of four stars or more (on a scale of five).

If you have a ResortsandLodges.com premium business listing, and would like to check out your enhanced Marketing Center, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about getting listed on ResortsandLodges.com, click here.

UK Travelers Blackmailing Hotels with TripAdvisor

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A recent article in The Telegraph reported that hotels and restaurants in Britain are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals, or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel, and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. Guests are typically making a complaint and then threatening to post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert, or bill reduction.

Martin Couchman, the deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that he was in talks with TripAdvisor to improve the service.

How Important is Online Reputation Management?
According to TripAdvisor, the average traveler reads between six and twelve reviews during the research phase of the trip planning process. For this reason alone, it is important for your most recent reviews to shed your property or establishment in a positive light.

To be honest, I’m shocked that this kind of scheme did not happen earlier on in TripAdvisor’s existence (and perhaps it has, but has been kept under wraps). The company is not hiring millions of travel experts to research properties for them. Instead, they are putting that power in the hands of the masses, assuming that travelers will have no ulterior motives for giving a positive or negative review.

To answer the question, your property’s online reputation is incredibly important as far as how travelers perceive the quality of stay they will be receiving when they stay with you. If TripAdvisor has to worry about “fraudulent” reviews being posted for all of the wrong reasons, they will lose credibility.

To read the full Telegraph article, click here.

Five Tips to Improve Your Online Reputation

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Maintaining a positive online reputation can be difficult for any company in a place as public as the internet, but for the hotels and unique lodging options we promote on ResortsandLodges.com, it is of vital importance.  Although the thought of people openly reviewing your property may be scary at first, it is important to see these online reviews as an opportunity.  According to Jennifer Davies, senior content manager at Expedia, good reviews of 4.0 or 5.0 generate more than double the conversion rate of a review of 1.0-2.9.

Davies’ statement deals specifically with data compiled by properties on Expedia.com, but the idea is relevant across the hospitality industry.  Still, conversion rates are not the only numbers that are affected by a positive online reputation.  An interview with Expedia’s VP of Supply Strategy and Analysis, Ben Ferguson, revealed that a one-point increase in a review score (on a five-point scale) equates to a 9% increase in average daily rate (ADR).

All property managers and hoteliers realize the importance of conversion rates and ADR, but many do not understand how or why they go hand in hand with a property’s online reputation.  Proactively managing your reputation and using the feedback from online reviews to increase guest satisfaction will allow you to increase both your conversion rates and revenue in a sustainable way.

Here are five tips on how to improve your property’s online reputation:
Continue reading

How Social Media Affects Revenue Management

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Well-informed hotel revenue managers have always used a variety of factors to determine pricing for available rooms.  These factors include the competitive landscape, market trends as well as long-term business plans.  However, a new factor that must be considered is the role social media plays in making more informed pricing decisions.

In the hospitality industry, cultivating and nurturing your online reputation is critical for success.  This is something we talked about in a previous blog post titled “The Importance of Online Reputation Management”. 

What once may have been viewed as a minor factor in pricing decisions has quickly become an increasingly important indicator for revenue managers.  The global trend of reputation management has prompted several studies over the past couple of years exploring the link between online consumer behaviors and pricing decisions.

Kelly McGuire of SAS, went so far as to uncover a strong relationship between user-generated content (ratings and reviews) and the quality of value perceptions of hotel room purchases.  Her research ranks positive or negative review valence as having the most significant impact on purchase decisions, followed by price and then aggregate rating.

What Does This Mean For You?

Social media should be used as a two-way communication forum.  When guests post a positive or negative comment on Facebook or Twitter, your social media department should respond as soon as possible.  This lets the individual traveler know that their comments are appreciated and lets the rest of your social media following know that you care about the needs of all guests.

When you are proactive and appropriately reactive with your social media channels, your online reputation will improve.  This can be a great way to build loyalty with a new generation of travelers, the Millennials, and can in turn change the way you manage your revenue strategies.

Reviews sites should be seen in the same light.  When you receive a negative review on one of the major OTAs or meta-search engines, whether it is about the rooms, food or service, a quick and well thought out response is the best way to ease a customer’s troubles.  Make sure you remedy this issue soon so that additional guests do not leave the same feedback on these review sites.

The Importance of Online Reputation Management

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In October 2013, a Huffington Post contributor, John Rampton, wrote an article questioning whether online reputation management was dead.  In a more recent Hotel Business Revew article, Jane Coloccia, President and Chief Creative Officer of JC Communications, asked how important online reputation management really is.

The answer to both of these questions:  online reputation management is incredibly important, and is certainly not dead.

While the spectrum through which hotels and other properties view the importance of online reputation management varies widely from companies that consistently check review sites, social media and OTA review columns, to those with a completely hands off approach, it is clear that the growth of the worldwide web makes this an issue hotels at least have to consider.

Coloccia talks about a time when a hotel’s only concerns were the actual physical appearance of a property, the professionalism of your staff, efficiency of operations, how your brochure and collateral materials looked, and what legitimate journalist said about you.

Now, you have to concern yourself with a new set of principles including website presence, the need for a booking engine and e-mail marketing.  Hoteliers who were on top of traditional marketing techniques needed time to catch up to the internet-driven, tech savvy traveler.

Why a Change is in Order

Dan Sorenson, president of the well-respected reputation management authority Big Blue Robot, posed the question, “Why would someone want to band their head against a wall?”

This may seem like an off-topic question, but he explains that metaphorically companies are banging their heads against a wall with their reputation management strategy.  Although the search world keeps changing, these companies still employ the same tactics they always have in an attempt to mold a great search engine results page and solidify their diminishing returns.

These companies are using these same strategies because in most cases, they do not realize they need to change, or do not want to put the effort into creating a new strategy.

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports that, “A dissatisfied consumer will tell between nine and 15 people about their experience.  About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.”  A decade ago, this was done by word of mouth.  Now travelers are getting on social media channels and reviews sites to voice their concerns.  Their reach with these outlets is no longer limited to 20 people, and may actually be closer to 200, or even 2,000 people.

Today, if a traveler has a negative experience with a surly front desk attendant, you can bet that by the time they have reached their room, the news has already reached Facebook and Twitter, if not TripAdvisor or the OTA site where they booked the room.

The Growth of Social

Just a few years ago, it was still okay for a company to ignore the social web.  Facebook, Twitter and other social sites were considered immature and unproven.  Some companies still consider social media as a young person’s fad.  However, today’s fastest growing demographic for Facebook is the 55-plus crowd.

Today, social needs to be a part of any marketing strategy and is essential to successful reputation management.  Social profiles are easy to create and they take up space in the Google results, improving a company’s online reputation.

Just having a social media profile is one thing, but truly managing a social media channel can make or break your online reputation strategy.  Consumers are taking the time to contact companies through these channels to complain about a situation.  In fact, many media today are actually advising consumer that if you are unable to get a response through a company’s customer service line, you will get a more immediate response on social media (nine out of 10 times this is in fact the case).

Not Everything Has to be Negative

Keep in mind that while your online reputation might be negative, it could also be quite positive.  You may be searching for your property on Twitter and find an amazing experience someone had at your hotel.  Travelers may post photos on Instagram and Pinterest of the mouth-watering meal they had in your dining room.

It is important to address this positive feedback the same way you would if it were negative.  A timely response is important in our “always on”, mobile-friendly landscape.  This is just a single example of how you can positively manage your online reputation, and how to leverage social media to create awareness for your brand.

Key Points

-Online reputation management is far from dead, and will continue to be an important aspect of your marketing campaign as the internet continues to play a large role in the vacation planning experience.

-Social media has recently driven, and will continue to drive companies to focus on their online reputation management.

-Having a solid online reputation strategy requires being aware of not only social media, but travel review sites and OTA review sections as well.