The online world feels like a touch of the Wild West right now for many businesses in the hospitality industry. The owners who are proactive and vigilant about their online reputations and the new social media kids in town are taking advantage of technology, while companies that are reluctant to wade into the fray may get left behind. Make no mistake, it’s a lot of work to manage your business’s online reputation, but it’s crucial to the long-term success of the company. Let’s take a look at some digital marketing tools.
What’s Become Standard?
Many businesses have jumped on the technology train, embracing lots of different social media platforms and working hard to learn about the potential of Internet marketing. Others have been resistant to focusing on younger clients if Baby Boomers have been their bread and butter. However, only one third of Internet users are from the Baby Boom generation, so you can’t underestimate the importance of online marketing. Here are some of the basic tactics that no longer are optional:
- Mobile-friendly sites: If 80 percent of searches are done on mobile devices, business owners in the hospitality industry don’t get the attention of search engines if the company website is not mobile friendly.
- Local search presence: Making sure your business’s online information such as location, rating and price range is up to date is vital when it comes to maximizing local-search technology. When someone is looking for a hotel near his or her location, your business must show up on the map.
- Social media engagement: Your business should be on at least three social media platforms, and more is better. It’s all about getting your brand top of mind and starting conversations with customers.
Hotels and other hospitality companies that are ready to get proactive about online marketing can take some of these steps during the coming year:
- Engaging content marketing: Businesses should be looking at the content of their websites to make sure the information there is accurate and, more importantly, interesting to site visitors. Videos, blogs, and customer stories can engage potential customers.
- Paying for placement: Consumers click on “above the fold” search engine results first. It’s worth spending the extra money for premium placement. Plus, this will help in the local search function mentioned above.
- Customer-centric planning: Instead of thinking like a hotel owner, think like a guest. What would customers expect to find when researching your company? What would make things easier for them? Consider online check-in or room-customization capabilities.
Once you’ve established your company’s presence on the Internet and in the social media realm, it’s important to monitor what is being said about your business. Here are the basic steps for managing your online reputation:
- Monitoring reviews: First off, you have to pay attention to what customers are saying about their experience at your hotel or hospitality business. Positive comments are great; thank reviewers for their kind words. Negative comments can be great, too, because they help you learn.
- Addressing complaints: Respond to concerns and complaints promptly. Thank reviewers for sharing their thoughts and pledge to use their comments to improve.
- Learning from comments: Take what is said about your company to heart. Decide whether complaints should prompt a change in policy. Share comments with employees so they understand how important customer experiences are when it comes to the health of the business.
Diligent hospitality business owners can leverage their online presence and reputation to create happier customers and therefore boost the bottom line. Besides, your competitors may be already working hard on their reputation management. You don’t want your company to lose relevance. Take the time to respond to reviews or discover how to enhance customers’ experiences. The proactive approach is the best track for your business.