The COVID-19 global health crisis dramatically changed the future of travel. In what was always a very competitive business, the future of the travel industry is at risk.
People will continue to travel, but how often, to where, and when are serious questions that seemed unthinkable to ask not very long ago.
The hotels and travel companies that emerge from the coronavirus crisis will seek every opportunity to win the customer back.
Price and customer service will continue to drive hotel reservations and advance bookings, but 93% of travel and hospitality business owners think online reviews are among the most important factors affecting the future of their industry.
91% of travelers turn to search engines when looking for a place to stay, with the majority — 81% preferring to use Google.
What do people see when they Google your hotel or travel company?
Bad reviews, misleading news, and blog articles, negative comments in forums, and online defamation by angry customers, former employees, or jealous competitors can destroy your online reputation.
This is why the future of online marketing must include online reputation management.
How Online Reviews Affect Your Business
76% of consumers are willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores. 49% of travelers will not book a hotel without reviews. Negative reviews have convinced 94 percent of consumers to avoid a business. 88% of consumers will sort out hotels from their searches with poor review scores.
When it comes to managing a business in the hospitality industry, your ultimate goal should be to increase the number of reviews and boost positive ratings. The most important travel review sites, in order of number of reviews are:
- TripAdvisor (25% review market share)
- Expedia (21% review market share)
- Google (18% review market share)
- Facebook (18% review market share)
- Booking.com (7% review market share)
How to Manage TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site. 463 million travelers visit TripAdvisor every month. There are more than 860 million reviews and opinions across greater than 8.7 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions.
96% of TripAdvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning trips and booking hotels. 83% of TripAdvisor users will “usually” or “always” reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel.
TripAdvisor also enjoys an enviable place on Page 1 of Google for almost every hotel in the world. It’s a great place to be if your hotel enjoys 4-star and 5-star reviews from happy travelers. There is no place to hide if you have a poor rating and negative reviews.
TripAdvisor does not allow the removal of negative reviews, but business owners and social media managers can make a Management Response, which we recommend as a public way to acknowledge positive reviews, respond to negative reviews and connect with current and future guests.
TripAdvisor Review Removal
TripAdvisor will remove a review if it can confirm that the review violates its review guidelines. Fake reviews, competitor reviews, and reviews that attempt to blackmail a listing all violate TripAdvisor’s review guidelines.
To report a review that does not meet TripAdvisor guidelines:
- Log in to the Management Center.
- Click the “Reviews” tab in the Management Center menu.
- Select “Report a Review.”
- Look for the “Concerned about a review?” section and click “See our guidelines and submit your comments.”
- Provide a reason(s) for your dispute and select the problematic review.
- Outline any evidence to support your argument in the space provided.
Opinions are protected speech and TripAdvisor will not inquire into the facts in dispute. However, if there is a basis for an online defamation / cyber libel claim, Tripadvisor will respond to a court order and remove a review that is found to be defamatory.
TripAdvisor will also comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and remove content that infringes on a legitimate copyright interest. Notices of claims of copyright infringement on TripAdvisor can be emailed to: ta-copyright@Tripadvisor.com
It is also possible for the individual who posted the review to remove a Tripadvisor review. It is not possible to edit reviews posted to TripAdvisor. To remove a review posted to TripAdvisor:
- Go to the TripAdvisor profile.
- Click the three dots in the top right corner of the review box.
- Select “Delete” and confirm the request by clicking on “Delete” again.
- TripAdvisor will send a notification once the review has been removed.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Tripadvisor
According to Lightspeed Research, 62% of consumers surveyed said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews. However, negative reviews are inevitable in the travel and hospitality industry. You can’t please everyone all the time. You need a strategy for responding to negative reviews on Tripadvisor and other travel review sites.
We generally recommend that hotels first respond privately to the individual posting a complaint or criticism whenever possible. It is best to respond to reviews within the first 24 hours.
Generally, the best approach is to have a conversation offline to discuss the issue. The best response is when the owner or hotel manager reaches out to the individual who posted the complaint in near real-time, expresses an interest in resolving the issue, and provides contact information so this resolution can actually take place.
If a positive outcome can be reached privately, encourage the individual to update his or her review with the resolution and maybe even update the original rating. If the individual posting the review cannot be reached or is not amenable to any reasonable resolution a public response is necessary.
What About Fake Reviews on TripAdvisor?
Fake reviews are a problem in every industry. At the risk of sharing insight that will probably be used by some unscrupulous PR or travel companies intent on gaming the system, here are a few ways to tell if a hotel review is legitimate:
Detailed reviews. The more detail the better, when trying to tell if a review is real or fake, look for mentions of room numbers, the name of a helpful concierge or hotel manager, etc. The more effort that someone put into the review the more credibility it has. In our experience hotels looking to boost their image with fake reviews are naturally inclined (or financially incentivized) to put in the least amount of time into getting a 5-star review.
It’s also helpful to see online reviews that mix positive and negative. Someone’s negative (e.g., “not a great place for children”) might be exactly the kind of quiet, romantic destination someone may be looking at for a honeymoon.
Multiple reviews. When reading a travel review look at other reviews the individual wrote while on his or her trip. It is possible someone went to Italy for two weeks and just wrote about one hotel, but very likely they will have written a review about another restaurant, tour company or hotel. This is a great sign of authenticity.
Real photos. The presence of traveler photos along with a review is a helpful indicator of authenticity. Professional photos have an almost too good to be true quality so we’re not talking about those, but most photos we take on vacation or while traveling for business look wonderfully average. An average picture of a nice hotel room and an above-average review is a very good sign that the accompanying review is legitimate.
Social Media Management for Hotels
Our social media management team are online marketing experts who know, based on data analytics and experience, what to post, when to post, who to target, and why and will help develop a consistent, clear, and credible “voice” for you and your brand online. For hotels, social media has been a powerful tool for brand awareness and engage current and future guests.
At 2.2 billion, Facebook has more monthly active users than Twitter (336 million) and Instagram (1 billion)—combined. Facebook continues to reign in popularity over other social media channels. Even more importantly, 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business, like a law firm, if it has information available on a social media site. Reputation Rhino can help you identify the most effective ways to help you and your firm stand out online.
Instagram is a highly engaged global community with more than one billion active accounts. People come to Instagram for visual inspiration and the simple design allows captivating visuals to take center stage. Advertising on Instagram has the power to move people — inspiring them to see a brand or business differently or take action.
With over 68 million users in the U.S., Twitter is a powerful platform to improve brand awareness and expand your reach to connect with new and existing clients.
Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by ‘pinning’ on images or videos to their own or others’ boards and browsing what other users have pinned. With a combination of great demographics (predominantly higher-income female audience) and highly visible and shareable content, Pinterest is a powerful branding opportunity for any visually-oriented business.
Online Reputation Management for Hotels
Reputation Rhino is led by an extraordinary team of experienced social media, marketing, and PR experts. We can help:
- To build brand awareness for and generate positive online media coverage for your hotel or travel website
- Promote positive online search results and online reviews
- Reduce visibility of negative online search results and minimize the impact of negative search results and negative online reviews