November 18, 2020
Guest reviews have a strong influence in the decision-making process of travelers and research shows there is a direct link between online reviews and increased bookings. A recent study by BrightLocal shows that 91% of users rely on online reviews and TripAdvisor confirms this stating that 83% of their users found their accommodation through reviews. It’s a fact! Reviews equal bookings and we all want more of those!
Reviews Are a Powerful Tool
Traveler confidence is at an all-time low and now is the time to have a smart marketing strategy and strong online presence. Reviews are a powerful tool that establish trust and social proof, increase your search rankings, drive bookings, and boost your business. They also provide the property manager and owner an opportunity to evaluate their performance, improve service, increase the customer experience, remain competitive, and build a stronger brand.
“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make product, service, and business better.” When customers share feedback, businesses can use that knowledge to evolve products and services and remain competitive in the market while also maintaining customer satisfaction.” Kristin Smaby “Being Human is Good Business”
A satisfied guest is an asset and has the potential to be your biggest brand ambassador if you take the opportunity! A well-planned review ensures your guest reviews both the property and the host. The trusted customer feedback provides credibility to both, adding value to your business and letting potential future renters know you’re a safe, secure, and trusted option. A sound bet for their dream vacation.
“If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful”- Jeff Bezos
Reviews are indeed a powerful marketing and SEO tool that are vital to your marketing strategy, but how can you be sure you’re making the most of this opportunity?
Ask for reviews: This should be a standard procedure for every property manager on departure. The best time to ask for a review is within 24-72 hours of check-out while your guests are still wallowing in their awesome vacation experience. If a guest sings your praises in person, seize the moment and ask them to put it in writing. Let your guests know this is important feedback to improve your customer service and their customer experience. It shows you care and are committed to giving your guests top-notch service.
Make the process easy: Make it easy for your guests to leave a review. Tech-savvy travelers want the world at their fingertips so make the process easy by including a review link or QR code in your communication with the guest or using your digital guidebook to ask for your review. Leaving a guest review book in the home adds an old-school, personal touch, gives you genuine feedback, and is always a heart-warming read for guests.
Respond to all reviews: If a guest has taken the time to complete your review, a thank you is a must. Be quick to respond and acknowledge all feedback, good and bad, letting your guests know of any changes made based on their feedback. Your online reputation is important and while no one likes a negative review, there is an opportunity to turn it into a positive experience by keeping calm, confronting the critical points, taking responsibility, and responding for future potential guests to see. In a Google article on “How to Improve your local ranking on Google”, managing and responding to reviews is a key factor in improving your online ranking.
Promote your reviews: Reviews are a valuable source of marketing and should be an integral part of your SEO and marketing strategy, the backbone of your online presence. Ensure your reviews are visible wherever possible, share them on all channels, add them to your property listings, pin them to your home page, add them to your social media posts and images, and include them in your newsletters. Promote them wherever you can!
Don’t overdo it: A smart review strategy is important but don’t overdo it! There are lots of creative ways to ask for a review but timing is crucial and one friendly reminder is enough. It costs about five times more to attract a new customer than keep an old one so do not pester your guests or overstep the boundaries. While your review strategy will attract many new guests, you don’t want to lose the old ones.
Maintaining your existing guest relationships is crucial to the health of your business and a well-structured guest review is a powerful tool to earn repeat guests and attract new. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to rethink our business models and if you’re not taking the opportunity to get valuable feedback from your guests, now is the time to start.