Reputation Management During COVID-19: What It Is & How to Do It Well
- Posted by Cori Uddenberg
- On June 1, 2020
“Is there a resort fee?”
“Do you offer transportation to and from the airport?”
“How far is your hotel from Walt Disney World?”
Travelers ask questions like these all the time. They want to take a peek at every facet of the hotel or resort experience before they actually make a booking. If they can’t find something they’re looking for elsewhere—or if they see something that gives them pause—it’s a safe bet that they’ll find their way to your inbox.
Though most questions and comments have to do with the inner workings of your hotel’s policies, sometimes, potential guests will throw you a question like this:
And if you fail to answer, past guests might leave prospective guests with the impression that a five- to seven-foot alligator may be staying in the room next door. When it comes to coronavirus, the implications of a false impression may be even direr. You don’t want other entities—past guests or otherwise—speaking for you.
Speaking to Heightened Guest Expectations
Guest expectations are simultaneously different and more rigorous than ever before. Travelers are taking a very real risk by coming to your hotel. As thorough as travelers are in trip planning, hotels and resorts need to be even more thorough in protecting that environment.
Hotels and resorts have to re-examine the inner workings of their operations and make sure every last detail of that new plan is available to guests. But publishing a page on your website with your new commitment to cleanliness isn’t enough. Guests might not find it, they might not read it, or it just might not be front of mind when they take to social media to ask questions or leave comments.
Not to mention, hiccups will happen. The guest experience as we’ve known it clashes with the need to sanitize and social distance—reducing the number of lounge chairs by your pool to keep them at a safe distance, for example, means that not every guest will get a chair. This could very well show up in reviews across the internet.
So how can you communicate your new policies and procedures clearly while still managing guest expectations? Reputation management.
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is exactly as it sounds. It’s managing the reputation of your hotel or resort by interacting with guests past, present, and future. Reputation management isn’t just about answering questions, though you’ll find yourself clearing up confusion more often than not. It’s also engaging with the attitudes of your community, good or bad.
In a 2019 Sprout Social report, they noted that 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them. This connection is the crux of reputation management and includes interacting with comments, answering questions, and responding to reviews both good and bad.
These types of interactions lay the groundwork for developing your own community of brand advocates by a) highlighting the good and b) owning up the not-so-good. In the wake of coronavirus, there will likely be plenty of both.
Reputation management in action looks a lot like the below example from The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. A prospective guest asked about how coronavirus policies and procedures might impact the pool and another community answered somewhat flippantly. The resort chimed in with an upbeat attitude and the simple facts, ensuring the prospective guest could make an informed purchasing decision.
Reputation Management Checklist
Reputation management can become overwhelming in a hurry. You’ll need to have a presence anywhere you appear online, from Google My Business to Facebook to even lesser-considered channels like Pinterest. If a prospective guest can ask a question or leave any kind of sentiment, you’ll need to be poised and ready to respond.
Get started with our reputation management checklist.
Organic Social Media
- Be sure your post notifications are turned on. You’ll want to be notified any time someone comments or reacts to your organic posts, regardless of the channel. If you’re posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Reddit, you need to be in a position to interact.
- Beyond post notifications, consider adding an alert to your calendar for a reminder to check in throughout the day, especially if you’re not in the habit of keeping tabs on your organic posts.
- Comments on your ads may roll in even faster than they do on your organic posts. Again, make sure your notifications are on.
- Comments may take the form of questions, opinions, or even messages of support from past guests. Be sure to interact with each and every one of them.
- Don’t be afraid to take the conversation to a different channel. If the question or comment warrants a longer discussion, ask the audience member to direct message you or send you an email.
- Google My Business aggregates reviews from many different sources. While you can check each individually, Google My Business is a quick way to see them all.
- Make time to respond to each review. Thank those who had a positive experience and welcome them back. Resolve the experiences of those who had a less-than-stellar experience, whether that’s taking the conversation to email so you can make amends or simply pledging to do better in the future.
Keep a Reputation Management FAQ
- Make note of questions/comments that come up frequently. This can be used in many ways. However, we recommend referencing it for the following reasons:
- Share this with anyone who will be answering questions or responding to reviews on your behalf so they have a brand-approved guide to community questions.
- Use common feedback to inform your operations. Keep doing the things that past guests’ praise, and work to improve the problem areas that keep coming up.
Make it Part of Your Day
- It’s easy for reputation management to fall to the wayside in favor of other, seemingly more pressing, aspects of your operations. Don’t let it.
- Schedule slots of time throughout your day to dedicate to responding to questions, comments, and reviews.
- Be sure to check-in at least first thing in the morning, right before you log off for the day, and immediately before and after a weekend to catch any last-minute questions or reviews that come through.
- Lean on your digital agency partner if you need additional support in maintaining each of these channels.
Need tips, tricks, or support to get your reputation management plan up to speed? Get in touch.
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