Travel, tourism and hospitality businesses need to inspire confidence in consumers if they want to get consistent bookings.
There are many ways to build this confidence, but among the most effective is to get a collection of positive online reviews.
Why? Because today people trust online reviews, in many cases, as much as recommendations from friends and family.
Growing a collection of great online reviews can be a bit of a challenge, but thankfully there are lots of tips, techniques and tools to help. Below are just a few:
1. Just Ask
Many business owners and brand managers struggle with the notion of asking for a review, even when they’re confident that their product or service is great and that the customer is happy. Try to overcome this. Guests and clients who’ve had a positive experience with your business won’t mind being asked and will likely find time to post a review online, so long as you make it easy for them.
Lead up to your review request by asking a thoughtful and open-ended question to make it clear that you truly care about what they think: How was your stay? Some business owners will split that into two steps — first asking about a customer’s experience and then – separately – asking for a review. (That can save you from sending a review site link and instructions to someone who’s had a bad experience.)
2. Make It Easy
Ensure there aren’t any barriers to the process of leaving a review for your brand. Give customers quick and clear instructions. Online reviews management tools can make this process seamless, providing well-timed and simple details and links (ideally directly to the place they’ll leave their review).
3. Time It Right
When you send a request for a review matters a lot. Do it when your client or customer is happy and when it feels most appropriate. Has their stay at your hotel just ended? Send a review request right away so that the customer’s great experience is still top of mind. Are they midway through their trip, tour or hotel stay? Consider sending a request for feedback then — that way, if their experience hasn’t been great so far you can make it right (right away!) and turn their experience into a 5-Star one (before they post a negative review). Ongoing relationship? Don’t wait to ask for feedback. Send a review request after you’ve achieved an important milestone or a particularly exciting result.
4. Be Where They Are
There are countless places for people to leave reviews online today, from Google and Facebook to travel and tourism industry-specific review websites. If you’re required to have an account on one of those sites before you can begin collecting reviews, do it. Make sure that it’s easy for customers to find your business online anywhere and everywhere they may be doing pre-booking research.
Once you’re set up to receive reviews, add badges and links to those sites from your website and share/feature them on your social channels. Make it easy for potential customers to find your great reviews, and for past customers to leave more of them.
5. Make It Flow
If you’ve got lots of bookings happening all the time, remembering to send review requests (and timing them all perfectly) can be tough. Consider creating a post-sale sequence or workflow that includes a review request in other follow-up communications.
For example, at the end of a guest’s hotel stay when you might normally send an automated “thanks for your business” email, add a note asking for a review and link to the tool or review site so it’s all just a click away. Some online reviews management tools allow for both email and SMS (text) review requests. Use both so that customers can choose the method that’s easiest for them.
Do you send out eNewsletters to your past and prospective clients database? Include a general request for reviews note and links in those eNewsletters for an even “softer sell” feel to the process of asking for feedback.
Adding “online reviews and reputation management” to your overall tourism digital marketing strategy will ensure that it gets the time, attention and resources needed for success.
6. Highlight The Good
Not all people will think to leave a review until they see that someone else has done so first (that is, they need to see some “social proof”). So share and feature your best (and most recent) reviews on your social channels, website and other marketing pieces.
That’ll do double-duty, triggering other happy clients to follow suit and showing prospective clients that you value their experiences and care what they think. Top online review tools often include an auto-share feature where you can set-up the cross-promotion of reviews easily.
Negative reviews can be the bane of a business owners’ existence, but don’t fret! Of course you won’t want to feature these ones on your social channels or website, but they do represent an opportunity for your business to respond publicly, showing current and future customers that you care about their feedback and are committed to making things right.
Want to learn more?
At Stir Tourism we’re online reputation management experts and can help your business to manage your brand’s online sentiment by growing and promoting your collection of great reviews, handling negative ones, and more. Get in touch today!