In the hospitality industry, reputation is everything. It’s never been easier for a customer to leave their remarks about an experience to you, or to the rest of the world, through social media. This makes it difficult for a hotel to manage their reputation. Where something might once have been taken care of discreetly, a negative comment on a site could drag your business down for a long time even if you make amends later. What are some ways you can successfully manage your hotel or restaurant’s online reputation?
Don’t go all in
Having an active social media presence requires you to be, well, active. Someone has to generate fresh content, talk with participants, and stay on message. If you don’t have the resources to devote to these, you’ll drag down the reputation of your business. Stick with the portals that cater to your clientele. Use LinkedIn for business travelers or Facebook for families to start. If you enjoy having one-on-one conversations with customers that could attract others to your business, try Twitter. If something new pops up, wait a bit and find out which demographic is attracted to it.
Tailor your message
Your social media presence should communicate the experience of your hotel like any other piece of advertising. How can you use these tools to better serve your customers? Do they need to know when the nearby major attraction opens? Do they need to know when the shuttles are coming and going? If the information you send is relevant then people will respond.
Social media is not a billboard. If people ask you questions or leave feedback it must be acknowledged. Otherwise it looks like you are ignoring your customers. The communication should also be in line with the attitude you want your hotel to convey. Are you upper-class, fun-loving, or something else entirely? Which demographic are you trying to target? Stay on message. That said, your responses must also be genuine. Stay far away from templates or generic answers! Social media demands a personal response.
Know how to handle negative feedback
First, apologize sincerely. Use some of the language they used in their complaint to show that you did read the complaint. Then offer them a way to email or call you directly to work out a way to fix the problem. Don’t drag out a customer complaint conversation out online. If the conversation turns sour you don’t want it for all to see on social media! Explain that you’ll do what you can to fix it, give them a way to contact you, then let them make the next move.
Reward your biggest fans
If you have someone that loves your company, turn them into a brand ambassador. Give them some perks for building your reputation online. Thank them directly and let them know you’re listening. By reciprocating their attention positively they will want to do more for you.
Never offer incentives to leave reviews
This is all too common. Sometimes a restaurant or hotel will offer a discount if a review is left. Incentives are fine for internal surveys, but for social media it looks like you’re bribing someone for a good review. Also, offering incentives for reviews violates the terms of many review sites. Just don’t do it. That being said, if you want more reviews then just ask for them. If you’re polite about it you won’t be considered rude.
Remember that social media is forever
Nothing ever disappears completely from the net these days. Every response you put up will be there for anyone to read. Before you send a message out, think about how it will look a few years down the road. Go online and research some brand management social media horror stories and learn from them. Applebee’s is a good example.
Take these tips to heart before venturing into social media. You can boost your reputation online with social media but it is a two-edged sword. If you don’t have the resources to stay on top of it, it is best not to get involved.
About the Author:
Emily is a blogger and writer at Spaceman USA that happens to be a manufacturer of soft serve and frozen yogurt machines and yes!! Emily loves frozen yogurt. What a coincidence you’ll ask, but besides tasty things Emily also loves pets (owner of an adorable cat), all movies by Martin Scorsese and the Pacific Ocean.