How to Boost Your Ratings & Rankings on TripAdvisor and other Hotel Sites
By Rob Fuggetta
Rob Fuggetta is the Founder/CEO of Zuberance, an online Word of Mouth marketing company that works with many leading hotel companies. Rob is also the author of a hot-selling new book, "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force" (Wiley, 2012). In this Q&A, Rob shares with us how hotels can boost their ratings and rankings on TripAdvisor and other hotel sites.
A. Hotels are collectively losing millions of dollars from negative guest reviews. These reviews are costing hotels business and tarnishing their hard-earned reputations. In a recent study by Lightspeed Research, 67% of consumers said they don't buy after reading only one to three negative reviews. And a study by Morpace, a market research and consulting firm, said travelers are 3X less likely to stay at hotels with three stars compared to hotels with four stars.
Q. In a recent interview, you called negative reviews a "Silent Assassin." What did you mean by that?
A. Look, prospective guests don't call you and say, "I was going to stay at your hotel until I read that review on TripAdvisor about the long strand of black hair in the bed." People just don't book at your hotel after reading stuff like this. They just go elsewhere. In addition, people tell each other about negative reviews they've read about your property. The other day a colleague said to me: "Don't stay at the hotel. I read on TripAdvisor that their service sucks."
Q. So what can hotels do about this situation? How can hotels get more positive guest reviews online?
A. An excellent approach is to get your "Brand Advocates" – happy guests who are willing to recommend you – to post positive reviews. Our research and real-world experience shows that about 50 percent of hotels' guests are highly likely to recommend your hotel. The problem is that their voice isn't being heard.
Q. How can hotel marketers identify their hotel's Advocates?
A. A simple way to identify Advocates is to ask guests the "Ultimate Question" for customer loyalty: "On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us?" Customers who say 9 or 10 are considered Advocates. We recommend asking this question everywhere. One of our hotel customers has created an army of 50,000 Advocates!
Q. Once hotels identify their Advocates, how can they get them to create and post reviews?
A. You need to make it very simple, easy, and convenient for Advocates. Give them an online ratings and reviews application they can access via their laptop or even mobile device. And then, make it easy for them to post their reviews on TripAdvisor and other hotel sites.
Q. What kind of success have Zuberance hotel customers having with this approach?
A. One of our hotel customers' rankings on TripAdvisor jumped 49 rungs on the rankings ladder after only about three weeks! Another hotel customer's ratings improved by a full star after they unleashed their Advocates!
Q. Did hotels pay or provide incentives to their Advocates to create and post reviews?
A. Absolutely not. At Zuberance, we're vehemently opposed to paying or providing incentives to Advocates. Doing this is ineffective and inauthentic. The key is to make it easy for Advocates by giving them convenient and easy-to-use online advocacy tools like ratings and review apps.
Q. In addition to getting Advocates to create and post positive reviews, how else can hotels leverage their Advocates?
A. Our hotel customers are leveraging their Advocates to share promotional offers with their social networks, boost revenues from restaurants, spas, and casino's; promote events; tell friends about renovations, and more. These aren't just happy hotel guests. They're a powerful marketing force for hotels!
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Zuberance is a social media marketing company that manages and powers Brand Advocate programs for leading consumer and business brands, plus growing SMBs. Zuberance's award-winning social media marketing platform enables companies to systematically identify and energize their highly-satisfied customers (AKA "Brand Advocates"), driving measurable increases in referral leads, recommendations, and revenues. For more information, visit http://www.zuberance.com or follow Zuberance on Twitter @zuberance.