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
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When you ask guests to write a review of your hotel, where’s the first place they go?
To TripAdvisor, right? Although there are huge benefits for generating more reviews on TripAdvisor, there are other options to consider.
Hoteliers have become reliant on TripAdvisor as their main source of guest reviews, but this could be limiting your scope for increased traffic and conversions.
Review pages on Facebook and Google hold great weight in Google’s search algorithms. Google dominates search requests in the online world, so it makes sense to put focus in encouraging reviews here.
Since Google pays close attention to Facebook reviews for your search ranking, both play an equally crucial role for your local SEO. They’re 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.
Why boost your reviews on Google and Facebook?
There are three main reasons why you should put effort into getting more Google and Facebook reviews.
- You increase brand trust
- You increase your online exposure and SEO
- You gain customer intelligence
Google and Facebook reviews hold great power towards influencing transparency and social proof. In Facebook’s 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.
This 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.
The 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.
Google reviews are a contributing driver for Google local SEO. In fact, 8.4% of Google’s entire search algorithm was driven by review signals in 2016, according to Search Engine Land.
Having more reviews on Google’s My Business can be one of your best marketing tactics. That’s largely due to such reviews affecting your visibility in the Google maps section in searches.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 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.
Under 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.
Encouraging more reviews on Facebook and Google also lets you know what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong. These customer insights can tell you the features your guests like, any improvements they’d suggest and whether they had an overall positive experience.
You can use every review as a way to improve your service and make incremental changes to enhance the guest experience.
5 tips to encourage Google and Facebook reviews
Now 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.
1) Create your Google My Business page
For 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.
If you need a jump-start, have a look at Google’s easy guide for hotels. This provides specific tips for those in the hospitality industry.
2) Include review form links on your website
You need to make it simple for guests to leave a review on Facebook and Google. Your guests don’t 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.
Follow these steps to generate your links:
- Login and go to your Facebook business page
- Click on the reviews tab on your page’s menu
- Simply copy the url in the address bar
- Go to Google Places API
- Enter your business name in the field at the top of the map and click your business
- Find your place ID that appears on the map
- Add your place ID to the following link: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>
3) Have your WiFi homepage as your Facebook review page
No 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.
If they’re 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’re having a positive stay, most guests will be more than happy to take two minutes to share their experience.
4) Printed handouts with directions at checkout
If your guests haven’t 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.
This 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.
5) Include links in your follow up emails
This 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.
Weighing up the cons
Less TripAdvisor reviews could mean lower rankings – if you’re putting all your focus into encouraging Google and Facebook reviews, there is a possibility you’ll jeopardise your rankings marginally on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor’s search engine does place emphasis on the number of reviews you have, the score of your reviews and the recency.
So, as this is the biggest review site in the hospitality industry, you don’t want to ignore the platform altogether. Instead look to balance your review requests across all three platforms in a coordinated marketing plan.
Guests may not have a Google or Facebook account
Additionally, 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.
But 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.
Where are the majority of your reviews? Will Facebook and Google reviews now be a part of your marketing plan?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]ABOUT THE AUTHOR Evan Davies was previously a hotelier before starting The Booking Factory two years ago in the UK. He said it’s been “incredibly fun to build it into a powerful platform used by hundreds of hoteliers”. Evan’s 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.[/box]