Online guest reviews are more important than ever. In researching hotels, potential customers are proactively seeking information about the experiences of previous guests. Reviews and star ratings on websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Local all play an extremely important role in getting new customers to book. The more reviews available, the more trustworthy a hotel will appear.
With 61% of travelers trusting online reviews and half unwilling to book until reading them, the numbers certainly reinforce the need to encourage guests to write reviews. Furthermore, younger generations are more communicative than their predecessors, so user-generated content is becoming increasingly important.
Boasting 375 million visitors monthly and 250 million reviews, TripAdvisor is the largest review website and the world’s largest travel site. Also noteworthy is Yelp, with its 139 million visitors monthly and 53 million reviews. Google, which takes user reviews into account in its search algorithm, also features its own review platform, which is also very important.
Your hotel may as well be non-existent if no one is raving about you online, so how can you pull in a few more reviews? Make it as simple as possible for guests to review you, since spare time is hard to come by for most. Here are some tips to help encourage guests to write hotel reviews:
Claim your Google business listing
First things first—make sure that your hotel’s business listing is up to date, accurate, and consistent across all online directories and review sites. Especially important is your Google My Business listing, which plays an important role in your hotel’s search engine ranking. Be sure to verify your business and keep all info up to date. Check out Google’s Quick Start Guide for Hotels for tips specific to hospitality businesses.
The major review sites usually offer online widgets you can put on your website to make it easier for your guests to leave reviews. TripAdvisor’s widget, for example, can send guests straight to TripAdvisor or allow them to write a review directly from your site. To include a widget on your site, search for your hotel on the TripAdvisor Widget Center, customize the widget based on the prompts, and finally add the line of HTML provided into your site’s source code.
Yelp Check-in Offers
While you should refrain from providing incentives (rewards like freebies and discounts) for reviews since doing so distorts the reality of guest experience and can result in your hotel being penalized, you can still offer rewards to guests who check-in to your location. Yelp’s Check-in Offers allow businesses to advertise incentives to guests who “check-in” to the establishment and tell their followers where they are. For hotels, these incentives could be a welcome gift, complimentary drink at the bar, a short sample massage at the spa, or other small perks. Users who check in to an establishment will automatically be prompted by Yelp to leave a review on their next visit to the website.
TripAdvisor Review Express
To collect even more reviews, give TripAdvisor’s Review Express tool a shot. The free service provides a customizable email template that can be used to reach guests efficiently, encouraging them to leave a review. Hotels using Review Express see an average 28% increase in reviews. Before emailing your guests, however, make sure you have their permission to do so. Since it’s best to garner feedback while the experience is still fresh in their minds, Review Express even provides the option for emails to be sent out automatically upon checkout. New reviews are certainly important, since potential customers are most interested in reading about recent experiences.
Link to your Google reviews page
Google rules search, so naturally having plenty of Google reviews helps to boost your search ranking. Google Reviews doesn’t have too much in the way of promotional widgets or tools, but there is a way you can link directly to all your Google reviews, where there will be a button that guests can click to fill out a review. First use this handy link generator from PlePer to figure out the link to your Google reviews page. This link can then be put into promotional emails or linked to from your website.
Social media apps
You can also take advantage of your social media pages to gain more reviews. In addition to informing your followers of your presence on review sites, you can make use of TripAdvisor’s Traveler Reviews Facebook app. Content from your hotel’s TripAdvisor page including ratings and photos will be pulled in directly onto your Facebook page. Most importantly, the customizable, user-friendly app allows guests to write reviews directly from Facebook, without having to switch over to the TripAdvisor site.
Reminder cards and stickers
While the methods above provide efficient online strategies to collect more reviews, you can also take a step back and use old-fashioned techniques that may prove just as effective. Physical materials like stickers and business cards can provide quick visual reminders of the importance of feedback to guests visiting your property. Both TripAdvisor and Yelp offer window stickers (including the familiar “Find Us On Yelp”), while TripAdvisor also provides downloadable review flyers and reminder cards.
Last but not least—wait until you’re guests leave
One thing that we do want to note when it comes to asking for reviews: do not ask your guests to fill out reviews on the spot at the hotel. Google and the major review sites track the IP addresses of where reviews are coming from, and too many reviews from the same computer will be penalized. Wait until your guests have fully checked out and traveled home. We recommend targeting guests with a well-timed email genuinely asking for guest feedback, with convenient links to review pages.
A final note…
Did you know that having more user reviews can improve your hotel website’s own search ranking? Read our Hotel SEO 101 article to discover more best practices on search engine optimization.