Evan Davies, founder of hotel management and marketing firm The Booking Factory, explains how hoteliers can receive five times more guest reviews on Google and Facebook\r\n\r\nWhen you ask guests to write a review of your hotel, where\u2019s the first place they go?\r\n\r\nTo TripAdvisor, right? Although there are huge benefits for generating more reviews on TripAdvisor, there are other options to consider.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHoteliers have become reliant on TripAdvisor as their main source of guest reviews, but this could be limiting your scope for increased traffic and conversions.\r\n\r\nReview pages on Facebook and Google hold great weight in Google\u2019s search algorithms. Google dominates search requests in the online world, so it makes sense to put focus in encouraging reviews here.\r\n\r\nSince Google pays close attention to Facebook reviews for your search ranking, both play an equally crucial role for your local SEO. They\u2019re also an indicator to potential guests that you do in fact exist and people have enjoyed their stay with you. This is the crux for generating trust and confidence in your property.\r\nWhy boost your reviews on Google and Facebook?\r\nThere are three main reasons why you should put effort into getting more Google and Facebook reviews.\r\n\r\n \tYou increase brand trust\r\n \tYou increase your online exposure and SEO\r\n \tYou gain customer intelligence\r\n\r\nBrand trust\r\nGoogle and Facebook reviews hold great power towards influencing transparency and social proof. In Facebook\u2019s case, in order for customers to leave a review they must have an account. This means for every review, the majority will show a real person behind that feedback.\r\n\r\nThis shows potential guests that your reviews are authentic and written by someone who has genuinely visited your hotel. Real reviews from real people are the key to inspiring trust in your brand.\r\nSEO\r\nThe main reason for encouraging Google and Facebook reviews is the SEO factor. When Google sees authentic reviews which are not created by fake accounts or bots, it gives your hotel more value in the search engines. This results in higher search rankings for you.\r\n\r\nGoogle reviews are a contributing driver for Google local SEO. In fact, 8.4% of Google\u2019s entire search algorithm was driven by review signals in 2016, according to Search Engine Land.\r\n\r\nHaving more reviews on Google\u2019s My Business can be one of your best marketing tactics. That\u2019s largely due to such reviews affecting your visibility in the Google maps section in searches.\r\n\r\nIt doesn\u2019t matter if you\u2019re competing against a large chain hotel in your area, if you have more real Google reviews, your smaller hotel will show up higher in the search rankings.\r\n\r\nUnder the map, your hotel name will appear with a link to your site, along with your overall review rating, some basic info, a picture and your room rate. This is the power that reviews can have on your SEO.\r\nFeedback\r\nEncouraging more reviews on Facebook and Google also lets you know what you\u2019re doing right, and what you\u2019re doing wrong. These customer insights can tell you the features your guests like, any improvements they\u2019d suggest and whether they had an overall positive experience.\r\n\r\nYou can use every review as a way to improve your service and make incremental changes to enhance the guest experience.\r\n5 tips to encourage Google and Facebook reviews\r\nNow you know why you should encourage more Facebook and Google reviews instead of relying purely on TripAdvisor, here are a few ways to urge guests to review elsewhere.\r\n1) Create your Google My Business page\r\nFor starters, ensure you have a Google My Business Page set up with all the necessary details completed. This is the account that has the biggest impact on your search rankings.\r\n\r\nIf you need a jump-start, have a look at Google\u2019s easy guide for hotels. This provides specific tips for those in the hospitality industry.\r\n2) Include review form links on your website\r\nYou need to make it simple for guests to leave a review on Facebook and Google. Your guests don\u2019t want to go trawling the web for the right pages. If you generate a link to take them directly to your review page, you can add this to your website and collect more reviews in no time.\r\nFollow these steps to generate your links:\r\nFacebook\r\n\r\n \tLogin and go to your Facebook business page\r\n \tClick on the reviews tab on your page\u2019s menu\r\n \tSimply copy the url in the address bar\r\n\r\nGoogle\r\n\r\n \tGo to Google Places API\r\n \tEnter your business name in the field at the top of the map and click your business\r\n \tFind your place ID that appears on the map\r\n \tAdd your place ID to the following link: https:\/\/search.google.com\/local\/writereview?placeid=<place_id>\r\n\r\n3) Have your WiFi homepage as your Facebook review page\r\nNo doubt your guests will want to use the internet at some point during their stay. This is a great time to put a review opportunity right in front of them.\r\n\r\nIf they\u2019re using your WIFI, you can make your homepage your Facebook or Google review page. This will be the first thing they see before they start browsing, making it easy to type a quick review. If they\u2019re having a positive stay, most guests will be more than happy to take two minutes to share their experience.\r\n4) Printed handouts with directions at checkout\r\nIf your guests haven\u2019t reviewed your hotel already, checkout is another time to seize the opportunity. Give your guests a simple printed guide showing where they need to go to leave a review. You can provide each step and a URL to your review pages, or even create a QR code they can scan with their phone.\r\n\r\nThis is a great time to do it because your guests will likely have a long journey home, giving the passenger plenty of time to write that review.\r\n5) Include links in your follow up emails\r\nThis is one of your last chances to bag that review. Within your thank you or offer emails, be sure to include the Facebook and Google review links you generated earlier. This will serve as a quick reminder that you would appreciate a review, and offer an easy one-click step to remove barriers.\r\nWeighing up the cons\r\nLess TripAdvisor reviews could mean lower rankings - if you\u2019re putting all your focus into encouraging Google and Facebook reviews, there is a possibility you\u2019ll jeopardise your rankings marginally on TripAdvisor.\r\n\r\nTripAdvisor\u2019s search engine does place emphasis on the number of reviews you have, the score of your reviews and the recency.\r\n\r\nSo, as this is the biggest review site in the hospitality industry, you don\u2019t want to ignore the platform altogether. Instead look to balance your review requests across all three platforms in a coordinated marketing plan.\r\nGuests may not have a Google or Facebook account\r\nAdditionally, not all of your guests will have a Facebook or Google account. Furthermore, not all guests would be willing to set up an account just to give you a review. Not much can be done about this, and you need to accept that some people are adverse to the online world altogether. Especially if you have an older clientele.\r\n\r\nBut with 2.2 billion Google users and 1.86 billion monthly Facebook users, you can rest assured the majority of guests will have easy access to your new review pages.\r\n\r\nWhere are the majority of your reviews? Will Facebook and Google reviews now be a part of your marketing plan?\r\nAbout the Author\r\nEvan Davies was previously a hotelier before starting The Booking Factory two years ago in the UK. He said it's been \u201cincredibly fun to build it into a powerful platform used by hundreds of hoteliers\u201d. Evan\u2019s work is split between growing the company and working with the team on all areas of product, engineering and customer happiness. Evan also loves to travel and loves technology.