Customer reviews and reputation management are fast becoming an essential part of a successful online marketing strategy yet too many businesses are still shying away from asking customers to leave online reviews or burying their head in the sand when a bad review is posted.
It is not enough any more to have a guest-book for guests to sign and leave a few nice words. That very same comment placed strategically online could generate many hundreds of times as much interest. In this post we will show you:
- why reviews play an essential part in building your business success
- where you can find and post them
- what is the best way to encourage your customers to contribute a review online
Why are online reviews important?
There are 3 main reasons:
- Search engine rankings: As we mentioned in a previous post, reviews are now more prominent in search results than ever before – Not only are actual user reviews listed in the new Google Places search, but a cluster of direct links to review sites are also displayed. Now that reviews are front and center, strong ranking could be a double-edged sword if a negative review is the one Google picks to display. This puts greater importance on engagement with users, monitoring of your online reputation and optimising user experience, both on and offline.
- Word of mouth: Potential customers may decide to buy from you or opt for a competitor on the basis of a review. Users TRUST reviews way more than your website content, so how you approach reviews often determines whether you gain or lose the customer.
- Ideas for improvement: Reviews are a great source for tips and recommendations for improving your service, creating new content and constantly improving the customer experience. Bad reviews can often be turned around into a positive by showcasing your ethics and communication style.
What are the Best Websites to get reviews from?
There are 3 key places to get listed and get reviewed:
- Trip Advisor – This is the big name in the tourism industry and reviews here tend to feature prominently in search engine rankings. It is the big one to get right but it is not the only place people will look.
- Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) – One of the most common ways to book accommodation online is through OTAs. Most of these now have advanced review functionality, including reminder emails to encourage customers to post a review. Interestingly, recent research shows that travellers posted more than 700,000 reviews across the six largest OTAs in 2009, versus less than 250,000 on traveller review sites. Therefore, it is clearly beneficial to get listed and reviewed on our key OTAs!
- Travel review sites – Outside TripAdvisor and the OTAs, this is the last prominent place for online tourism reviews. As you can see from the list below, some of these sites generate A LOT of visitors so it is definitely worth including them in your arsenal as well!
So the first step is to create a presence on the most popular Travel reviews and Online Travel Agencies. Without having your business listed on them, it is difficult for your customers to:
- book their accommodation
- post a review
These are the Top Travel reviews and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) in Australia in terms of popularity and traffic:
- Virtual Tourist
- Total Travel
- True Local
- Hotel Club
How do I ask my guests for reviews?
Now that you know the players, you can create a templated “thank-you” email to send out to your customers after their stay.
When writing the email, make sure to follow these guidelines:
- Keep it short and personal.
- Focus on the guest, more than on your business.
- It is not just TripAdvisor-focused. It includes links to the different websites where you are listed and where you would like to improve your brand reputation (this way, you also give your customers a choice).
Here is a suggestion for the email you send out:
Thank you for choosing [Name of your Business] for your recent stay in [Location name]. It was a pleasure to have you as our guest.
It would mean a lot to us if you would please take a moment to share your experience online?
You can find us on Tripadvisor [link to your listing] as well as on each of the following websites:
[List the OTAs where you are listed on]
Thanks for your contribution, it’s very much appreciated.
We hope to see you again soon.
- [Staff Name]
Direct phone: [Insert the number]
Direct email: [Insert the email]
See what others have said about our hotel on TripAdvisor:
[link to your TripAdvisor listing]
Can we help you with your reputation management?
Contact UntangleMyWeb.com to get your Tripadvisor and online reviews strategy right.
Don’t forget our online marketing forums are open and available to all members providing you exclusive access to our team of web and search marketing professionals.
If you haven’t taken advantage of the discounted 6 month membership for $88 made available by the AusIndustry Small Business Online Program then I suggest you head over to UntangleMyWeb.com and register for the virtual workshop program today as time is running out!