Word of mouth has always been an important way for travel, tourism, and hospitality businesses to get more business. Social media has made the opportunities for getting online reviews fast and easy with a huge potential to generate new business.
Why do you need online reviews of your hotel, travel or tourism business? The 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey found that while 28% of people will choose a local business for price or location, a whopping 52% look for positive customer reviews. The same number of people – 52% of consumers – gave online reviews the same consideration they would a personal review.
Online reviews have huge influence for potential customers. Another review by Bazaarvoice found that 76% of people will read online reviews to select a business.
Today’s consumers aren’t just looking for testimonials and recommendations before they spend, they are definitely watching for quality reviews. Another consideration is that while one study found people are favorably swayed if they find about six good reviews, Google uses a 30-point system by Zagat that requires a minimum of 10 reviews before your score is on display and will get noticed in search results.
The online reviews of your business may also play a part in search engine ranking. It seems that having more than five trusted recommendations translates into a 1.85 improvement in ranking. More importantly, if all the people who find you via the search engines like what they see others saying about your business you should see website traffic converting from leads into customers.[box style=”check”]Need some help getting more online reviews for your company? Contact Stir Tourism for expert help increasing, monitoring and managing your online reviews. [/box]
So how do you get more online reviews from your travel and tourism clients?
Here are some great suggestions:
- Invite your customers to give you a review – Make sure your happiest and most loyal clients know where to find your social media pages. They are the people most likely to give you a good review with meaningful feedback. Prepare promotional handouts or business cards that give links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+Local profile accounts to make it easy for your clients to connect with your online business presence. If someone gives you a compliment about your company or services, don’t be shy! Ask that satisfied customer to consider sharing their thoughts about the positive experience on social media to help your business.
- Offer practical advice and support – If you have a customer who is not very confident online or really technologically challenged, don’t hesitate to offer instructions on how to post a review. Chat with them about how easy Facebook is to interact and make sure they know how to find your travel business page there or on LinkedIn. You may even want to have a useful handout like this one, which shows them how to leave a review on your Google+Local profile page.
- Use your email effectively – How many emails do you send in a week? Remember to add links to your social media accounts on your email signature line to give clients easy access. You could even persuade people to give feedback by adding in a simple call to action such as, “How are we doing? Let us know online.” Some businesses will also send emails out to everyone on their mailing list to ask for feedback on a new service or product. You need to ensure you don’t cross the line from proactive to annoying or you might not get the kind of reviews you seek.
- Consider the QR code – Smart phone users find QR codes tempting, particularly in waiting areas, which is why they can be a very effective part of a mobile marketing strategy. When they scan a QR code on a travel brochure or business card it directs them to the landing page of your choice. You might want to consider making that landing page your Google+Local page to potentially increase reviews.
- Target TripAdvisor wisely – In the travel and tourism industries, TripAdvisor reviews can drive traffic to your website and influence purchases. Generating good reviews on the site should be an important part of your marketing strategy. At the last point of contact ensure that happy customers are invited to share their opinions and give them handy links to the social media accounts for your travel business as well as your TripAdvisor page. Be wary of providing clients with the opportunity to immediately create an online review for your tourism or hospitality business at an on-site kiosk: TripAdvisor frowns on reviews that are all generated from the same computer IP address. It is more beneficial to have clients submit reviews from their mobile phones or laptops from different locations.
- Make the most of social media – Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google+Local page listing by posting the link for it on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles every so often. You need to get the word out and social media sites give you ample opportunity to solicit authentic reviews that will build your online credibility.
- Get fully LinkedIn – Many people think of LinkedIn primarily as a way to get employment, but it also serves to build your business when used effectively. Consider writing short, heartfelt reviews for people with whom you interact professionally. Perhaps you own a hotel and have had exceptional interactions with a caterer or wedding planner; write meaningful and descriptive reviews based on your experience. In most cases leaving a valuable testimonial like this on someone’s LinkedIn profile inspires the goodwill to return the favour. A specific recommendation will be very meaningful to potential clients.
- Regularly monitor reviews – Be sure to keep the dialogue with your customers going and ensure you respond to client reviews online. Thank your happy customers for their business and for making time to share their thoughts. Don’t ignore negative feedback! Be professional and polite – not defensive or argumentative. Remember that potential clients will read how you respond to a negative situation! Thank unhappy clients for their feedback, apologize briefly but sincerely, and invite them to call or email you to resolve the situation.
- Blog about positive reviews – Incorporate positive feedback into blog posts regularly. Solicit comments about different products or services and then incorporate the best responses into a customer review blog. The next step is to be sure to share this new blog post across your Facebook, Twitter (consider embedding those tweets), and Google+ pages – and even highlight the blog topic in your email signature.
Need some help getting more online reviews for your business? Navigating social media can seem daunting when you are starting out. Contact Stir Tourism for expert help managing all aspects of your travel, tourism, or hotel online marketing and advertising needs.
Contact our travel, tourism, and hospitality marketing experts for a free estimate or a free 30-minute consultation. We also offer a free website and online presence analysis report. Request your free report today.
— Stir Solutions (@stirsolutions) September 6, 2013
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Sources – http://www.seoaddicted.com/google/small-business-reviews-customers/ ; http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-write-better-linkedin-recommendations?page=all ; http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31852/A-Marketer-s-Guide-to-Accumulating-Awesome-Online-Reviews.aspx