3 TIPS FROM TOP INDEPENDENT HOTELIERS ON MANAGING ONLINE REVIEWS

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We recently wrapped up our 2019 Summit in San Antonio where some excellent strategies were shared by our partner hotels on a variety of topics, including how they proactively manage their online reputations. The Summit is one of the most anticipated events of the year at Stash Hotel Rewards, bringing together independent hoteliers from across the country for three action-packed days of brainstorming and networking unlike any other industry event can offer.

So in the collaborative spirit of the Summit, we’d like to share the top three tips on how hotels can better manage their online reviews with you.

1. Leverage the Review Express Tool in TripAdvisor

According to our Partner Hotels, this free tool really does deliver on its promise: more reviews, less effort. And they do mean free. You can take advantage of this tool whether you pay for a Business Advantage listing or not. In a nutshell, Review Express provides email templates that you can easily personalize to encourage your guests to submit a review of their stay, as well as an optional private survey.

Many hoteliers felt that the delivery rate of the Review Express templates was better than their own post-stay follow-ups and that they saw a greater response rate in the number of reviews posted after sending them out. According to TripAdvisor, “on average, regular Review Express users see an uplift of 28% in the amount of TripAdvisor reviews for their property.” Templates can be sent out manually by uploading an excel file of email addresses or certain CRM systems and booking engines have integration options that allow you to automate the process.

To learn more about getting started, here’s The Complete Review Express Guide from TripAdvisor.

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2. The Art of a Great Response

While there was some debate, the overall consensus from our partner hoteliers is that it is important to let guests know you are listening to them. In an ideal world, your team would post a timely, personalized response to every review. However, a helpful tip was to have several templated responses ready that can be tweaked to help expedite the process. Responding to negative reviews shows prospective guests that you take concerns seriously and any problems have been dealt with.

Need more of an incentive? According to a study by Medallia, properties that respond to more than 50% of online reviews see their occupancy rates grow at more than twice the rate of properties that tend to ignore reviews. That said, everyone struggles sometimes to craft professional responses to those difficult negative reviews. Luckily, TripAdvisor has put together a Responding to Reviews Workshop full of good tips to help you out.

ProTip: Keep your hotel name out of your responses to negative reviews. But include it for your proudest responses. Search Engines can serve up individual reviews when people search your name. So make sure you use your Hotel name wisely.

  • ”I’m sorry your stay fell short of expectations…”

  • ”It made me to blush to hear that Hotel Example is your favorite hotel in the whole world!”

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3. In the Form of a Favor, Please

Last, but not least, this was one of our favorite strategies: A Stash hotelier has found that asking guests for a review in the form of a favor yielded the best response rates, and research on social influence backs up his experience. This can be achieved by simply tweaking the wording in your post-stay follow up email, as well as training staff how to tactically ask for a review after a service win. It is also a great opportunity to reinforce that you are an independent hotel. Everybody loves to support a David versus Goliath story!

We all love reviews because they give us a sense of security in our purchasing decisions. At Stash, we scour review websites as part of our property review process. We want to make sure new hotels looking to join us live up to the standards of our exceptional network and that our Stash Members will be sure to have a great experience. You know your potential guests are doing the same, so it is in your best interest to monitor top review sites and proactively manage them. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward by regularly updating your photos, amenities and description on these websites. Combine this with strategies above, and you’ll be driving more reviews (and more business) in no time!

You are not alone.

Learn more about joining our network of top-rated independent hotels by reaching out to our Hotel Partnership Team today and maybe we’ll see you at our Summit in 2020!

“I can tell you that I go to many conferences a year and found yours to be one of the most beneficial from an industry networking perspective. I can say I have never been to an event where I got to share ideas and learn with other hoteliers that are not only independent but operate like we do as an independent hotel.” - Larry Morris, Director of Sales, Perdido Beach Resort

Kelly Garbarino