Brands who hope to flourish in the hospitality space must successfully–and continuously–entice guests to come to them. But for most guests, vacation planning is much more involved than simply clicking your “Book Now” button.

That click is likely the summation of a planning process that carried them across your property’s various digital touch points. They may have visited your website to check available dates of stay and the corresponding room rates; your Facebook page to inquire about parking or breakfast options; back to your website to verify whether any of your rooms are ADA accessible; over to Google to search for your hotel and available amenities; and so on.

Add in the reality that the hospitality industry is a highly saturated space in which a potential guest could, with relative ease, find a comparable hotel in your area, and the act of “enticing” doesn’t sound so simple. Truly differentiating not just your hotel–but also your brand–from your competitors requires more than top-of-the-line accommodations and luxury amenities (though consumers want those, too). Building both consideration and loyalty for your brand means viewing humanity as an integral part of your marketing strategy. The best way to do that is through implementing reputation management as a key pillar of your social media marketing strategy.

What is reputation management?

Reputation management is the term used to describe customer care through engaging with guests before, during, and after their stay. Forming meaningful relationships with your guests in the name of customer care can foster affinity for your brand, and even mitigate developing customer resentment, both of which will increase your ROI in the long run.

Why does my brand need reputation management?

As reported by Sprout Social in their 2017 Q2 Social Index, your brand’s online treatment of and responsiveness to potential guests directly influences their purchasing decisions–86% of consumers expect brands to be honest, 83% expect them to be friendly, and 78% expect them to be helpful.

That means that your existing marketing strategy–which likely includes PPC, SEO, social media advertising, and more–may fall short if those strategies don’t also display a high level of customer care.

Where does reputation management fit in the customer journey?

Reputation management occupies a unique piece of the purchasing funnel, with influence from consideration all the way to purchase and loyalty. That’s because reputation management provides as much benefit for the actual guest you’re interacting with as it does for the prospective guests who may have their eyes on that conversation. Your potential guests want to know that their vacation experience is your top priority; but they also want to know that they’ll be well taken care of should something go awry.

How can I implement reputation management for my brand?

Participating in and even initiating online interactions between your hotel and its guests is an ideal way to put your hospitality on display by reinforcing your hotel’s most basic purpose: to welcome and care for each guest that walks through your door. In doing so, you’ll meet potential guests while they’re considering your hotel, therefore allowing you to shape their perception of your brand.

After all, whether or not you’re actively managing your online presence, potential guests will still form their opinions almost entirely online, drawing from the wall posts, comments, and reviews they find across your social media profiles and advertisements.

They will base their expectations for your hotel off of the lived experiences of past and present guests; a potential guest will likely take their business elsewhere should they come across a plethora of negative guest experiences or a host of mishandled complaints. Likewise, their affinity for your brand may peter off should their curiosity be met with a lack of responsiveness on your part.

So, make it a priority to manage your social profiles not as accounts, but as communities. Ensure your social team or social agency responds to every comment with enthusiasm, and every review with empathy. Repost the content shared by your guests, especially when that content includes a killer caption that showcases an element of your hotel not listed on the website. Get personal with your brand, and your guests will get personal with you.

It’s in that space that you can turn a bad experience into a good one, a good experience into a great one, and a first time guest into a lifelong customer.

 

…stay tuned for the next article in our Reputation & Community Management Series, Managing Guest Expectations on Social Media.