It’s no secret that the major search engines aggregate business reviews in their algorithms for SERPs. 10Best Solutions works hard to integrate carefully optimized copy in our clients’ websites. However important, optimization can only take your business so far. We can’t ensure your customer enjoys an ideal stay and then shares that positive feedback with the online community. Third-party-site reviews work in conjunction with our optimized copy and influence results, particularly in local search. No reviews (or, even worse, bad reviews) can hurt your overall rankings. What’s a GM to do?

First, deliver what you promise. No amount of sexy copy or pretty guest room photos can make up for a litany of negative reviews. Instead of sharing with friends and family around the dinner table, your patrons are sharing with the entire world, online. And while it may take some cajoling to get a satisfied customer to leave a positive review, believe this: If a guest has a negative experience at your property, they’ll shout it to the world. A displeased patron is sure to blast you, fair or unfair. And so it’s back to basics – improving customer service, attention to detail and a willingness to put the guest first.

What else can you do? Offer incentives and remind the customer to complete a review. Make it simple – give them a magnet, flyer or pen as they leave. Something that lists various review sites: CitySearch, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, AOL, hotelchatter.com, etc. Likewise, you can offer a discount on the client’s next stay so long as they provide proof of review.

Anything else? A great way to maintain customer service and build your brand reputation online is to monitor what is said about your brand on social media channels. Respond to negative reviews of your services to show that you care about your customers and care enough to uphold the truth about your brand online. 10Best is developing a Reputation Management service designed specifically for large hotel chains to monitor everything that is being said about their brand on the social web and monitor their rankings and reviews on important OTA channels. With the magnitude of social media on the rise, brands that are active with customers and responding to reviews on social media channels are going to see an increase in business over ones who don’t.

Given both the state of the economy and the nature of lightning-quick and world wide sharing, it’s time to get real about customer service. User-generated content can make or break a company’s reputation. Having more reviews than your competition, along with perfectly optimized copy, inbound links and an effective PPC campaign, can help you achieve top search rankings and give you the edge. To stand out online, first stand out with the customer.

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