Your online reputation has the power to make or break your efforts in growing your business through the Internet. Next to pricing, it’s the most significant booking-decision influencer. A 4/5 rating can persuade travelers to book; a 3/5 can dissuade them from it. An exhaustive Cornell University study of online reputation and its impact on bookings revealed that by increasing its rating from a three to a four, a hotel can raise its room rates by 17.8%, its occupancy rates by 10.8%, and its RevPAR by a whopping 28.4%.
So the pressure to establish and maintain an excellent online reputation can be daunting—downright scary, perhaps. But you shouldn’t see it as a burden: it’s a tool you can wield to fill your beds and increase your revenue.
To help you take advantage of your online reputation to grow your business in 2017 and beyond, we’ve interviewed the managers of three award-winning American hotels. Let’s see how they weighed in on the challenges and benefits of receiving glowing guest reviews.
The importance of online reputation to Cedarbrook Lodge
Cedarbrook Lodge is a Seattle-based hotel known for its ability to deliver on guest expectations. It’s exactly what a hotel should be: convenient and comfortable. The beds are plush and feel luxurious; the amenities are just what you’d hope for: plentiful, accessible, and well maintained.
Whether you want to work out or relax, they’ve got you covered. And the food, well, it has a reputation of its own. It’s a locally-sourced, fresh, and delicious alternative to the oft bland and institutional fare of competing airport hotels.
When asked about the importance of online reputation, marketing coordinator Emily Baker had this to say:
Our reputation and the service we offer our customers are at the core of everything we do each day. Guest feedback is the lifeblood that drives us and is vital to helping us create experiences in which we take tremendous pride. We monitor our social media and review sites constantly, respond to our customers with appreciation, and follow up when needed.
How online reputation impacts a new hotel: Woolley’s Classic Suites
Though Woolley’s Classic Suites, located in Denver, CO, is relatively new to the scene, it’s already generating a lot of buzz about its high-value guest experience. The hotel prides itself on delivering all the necessities of a great hotel stay at no extra cost—and guests are vocal about how much they appreciate it.
The property is leveraging its growing renown for customer service to fill its suites. On the website’s homepage guest reviews are displayed prominently. Scroll down a little further and you’ll find links to review sites and a list of awards. This is an incredibly powerful tactic, as the hotel doesn’t need to tell travelers browsing online just how great it is; it lets the ratings and reviews speak for themselves.
We asked Vincent Neale, Executive VP of Operations, about what online reputation means to Woolley’s. Here’s what he said:
Opening the first independent Woolley’s Classic Suites in a very crowded hotel space, we knew we had to provide the greatest value to today’s traveler.
We achieved this with bigger rooms (550 sq. ft.), a better sleep package, HUGE bathrooms with a separate shower and soaking tub, a more delicious breakfast, a more relaxing manager’s reception, free hi-speed wi-fi, free water, free direct airport service, and a very attentive staff whose mission is to make staying at Woolley’s Classic Suites as hassle free and nickel and dime free as possible.
We realized early on that our online reviews would be critical in our marketing efforts and all of the above have earned us our excellent online reputation. We manage it by constantly monitoring and responding to online reviews.
How the French Quarter Inn generates rave reviews in the luxury sphere
We all know that the hospitality sector is rife with competition. The battle for the top position in the luxury category is especially tough—unless you’re the French Quarter Inn, that is. This Charleston-based inn is esteemed for providing guests with an incredible experience that goes beyond the basic hotel stay. Whatever your star category, we suggest you look to the French Quarter Inn as a source of inspiration for delivering a rave-worthy guest experience that’ll earn you a top-notch online reputation.
When we interviewed Brent Gresham, the general manager of the French Quarter Inn, he told us what he attributed their notable online reputation to:
I believe it all truly boils down to our customer service. Yes, we have a phenomenal product, but what moves the needle, and will always move the needle within the luxury travel sector, is service. When you wow a guest with superb hospitality, that’s what pushes them over the edge to willingly share their experience at the property online with others.
Although I wear the title of general manager of this fantastic property, I primarily consider myself a passionate service professional and gracious host to our guests, as well as an inspirational leader to my staff.
So, are you ready to give your hotel’s online reputation the attention it deserves in 2017? Try monitoring your social media and review sites regularly to see what people are saying about their stays. Then work on perfecting the basics and going above and beyond with an attentive staff. Lastly, focus on the little details and delights that make your service truly stand out.