Online reputation is a major concern for many business owners. To help you manage yours, we’ve put together a series of posts on the topic.

Here’s a hypothetical case to help kick off our first post of the series.

Ann jumped out of bed this morning with more excitement than the average weekday inspires because it’s Thursday.  Thursday morning is the day when possibilities become realities for Ann. Quickly, she turns to the computer, albeit still a bit groggy-eyed, and begins to explore potential weekend trips.

She’s on a bit of a budget but she also lives close to the airport which helps. After a quick coffee, she scratches her head, gets down to business and begins to type…

London? Nuremberg? Amsterdam? Ok. There’s a lot of possibilities.

When it comes to finding the ideal hotel, it’s no different. Within the blink of an eye the results fill her screen. Now it’s time to narrow them down and solidify a hotel booking.

Ann filters the results for this weekend’s date and then edits the price and location proximity fields. This brings her results down to just a handful of options. Then she looks at each hotel’s main image and the review score almost instantaneously. This is when it starts to get interesting.

“The first hotel looks nice, but the reviews are neither plentiful nor outstanding. She mumbles to herself. She takes a gander at the next profile on the list, clicks the smiley face to see more aggregated review data and comments.

“rooms were old and grotty”

                                                     “staff were friendly”

                                                                                                    “good location”

Ann’s still not sold. Why?

The online reputation has become one of the key factors among travellers when booking a hotel, according to many studies like The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance driven by Cornell University.

So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that hoteliers should and often do, keep a continuous eye on what visitors say about their accommodations.

The significance a hotel review or rank bares extends far beyond its ability to impact the traveller’s selection of finalists. For example, another Cornell study discovered an impressive correlation between reputation and profitability. The study determined that even a one point increase in reputation (based on a five point scale) can result in the hotel’s ability to raise room rates by well over 10 %.  Similarly, a TrustYou sensitivity study found that, when faced with two hotels of equal price, travellers are almost 4x more likely to choose a hotel with a higher review score.

From offline to online reputation

Before our lives became digitally and mobile driven; before daily internet use and the introduction of Web 2.0, the reputation of the hotel was more static. The customer normally followed the advice of friends or relatives, they listened to the travel agent who showed them a brochure and booked based on this. Some hoteliers miss the good ‘ol days. But was this situation really better for the hotel?

Nowadays travellers have the chance to compare and contrast every element of a hotel via the property’s online profiles.  With numerous sources of data at their fingertips, the traveller is quick to conjure up certain expectations. After combining different sources of information such as hotel websites, forums, social media accounts or review sites, they have a pretty solid opinion of the place they’re considering.

Now the reputation of a hotel is exposed online. It’s highly visible which means that it can easily be found. It’s created collectively by the travellers and the hotel, through their interaction with one another. Simply put: it’s dynamic. The hotel’s reputation, similar to a person’s reputation, is always in flux.

Travellers also have stronger power of decision simply because more information is readily available to them. And that’s a powerful thing for you, the hotelier, as well.

Let’s take a closer look by comparing the impact of the Internet on your hotel’s reputation:

Before

hotel digital reputation word-of-mouth (WOM)

  • Private conversation
  • Verbal communication
  • One-way communication
  • Less poignant

Now

hotel online reputation (eWOM)

  • Great outreach capacity (Internet)
  • Webs, blogs, social media, review sites…
  • Two-way communication
  • Enduring

 

As you can see in the overview above, now the configuration of your brand image is more democratic. In many cases it’s more realistic too.

The increase in consumer-brand touch points can work in your favour. Immensely. Just think about it. Back in the day someone had to write the information, design and print the brochures.  Print proofs has to be studied and often edited numerous times before the final run.  Then the information had to be manually distributed to travel agents who may be able to send some business your way.  Then came the waiting period.

All of this and you were really just able to compete with hotels that were your equal because advertising, distribution, labour and commissions all added up.

Now you have the possibility of leveraging numerous channels of communication, the same ones the big chains use. It’s affordable to do so as well.

Channels, like Facebook business pages or trivago Hotel Manager are FREE.

Take advantage of them.

Also, if you’ve liked what you read here, note that this is only the first part of the series.  In the second installment we analyse the benefits of Web 2.0 so that you can really start to take advantage of it.  We’ll walk you through every element and tactic that your hotel may benefit from.

Don’t forget, we want you to let us know how it helps you. Use the comment feature in each post to ask further questions or provide your feedback.

Diego Alonso Jiménez

Diego is trivago’s Industry Manager for the Spanish market. A native of Spain, he’s a seasoned traveller interested in culture and proficient in several languages. Diego contributes his wealth of knowledge in web 2.0 tactics, e-commerce and online hotel reputation to the blog. Around here we know him as a fanatic learner and digital marketing guru. His great sense of curiosity drives him to continuously keep hoteliers ahead of hotel industry news and digital trends.

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