May 24, 2012

Reviews = Reservations

Reputation Management is the "big buzz" in the business, but getting reviews and managing so many review sites can be a daunting task. There’s a section in Chapter 8 entitled “Handling online guest reviews” where I discuss why reviews are vital for your business, ways to encourage satisfied guests to leave them and how to handle getting a negative review. I’ve highlighted a number of the tips below that will help lighten the load of garnering and managing reviews:

•    Request free guest comment cards. Many sites will provide free comment cards.  For example, at BnBFinder you can give your guests a chance to win a $500 Travel Gift Certificate, compliments of BnBFinder.com, when they write a review. You’ll win, too, because reviews are important to future guests! So ask the sites you advertise on if they have guest comment or review cards to help remind and encourage guests to share their feedback.
•    Get organized. Staple guest comment cards to your guests’ receipt at check-out.
•    Be consistent. Include a comment card in notes, greeting cards or any other mailings.
•    Don’t be shy. When guests compliment you, ask them to post their rave reviews and give them a comment card telling them how and where!
•    Get a widget. Request a free review widget for your website. Not only will it encourage guests to write reviews but you can proudly display other reviews with it. Reviews on your website from a site such as BnBFinder are third party endorsements for your inn.

Albion Manor , Victoria, BC
•    Have a system. Include a review request in a post-checkout email. Make it easy for guests with a direct link to write their review. "We hope that you enjoyed your visit with us. Please take a moment to share your comments with future guests by clicking here. If you have suggestions or ideas for us, please hit reply to this email as we value your feedback and look forward to welcoming you again…”
•    Keep it simple. Rotate the sites you request reviews on (TripAdvisor, then BnBFinder.com, etc). Do not ask guests to post on numerous sites at once but have reviews on all sites that offer them. Once a guest chooses your inn, you don't want them to leave to find reviews. By having reviews on your listing you avoid sending them to a site with tempting deals offered by other inns.
•    Bite the bullet. Respond to all unflattering reviews (and a few, not all, of the positive ones). Write your response to address guests' complaints and, in the process, talk to potential guests by showing them how you handled the situation.  Make sure you write the response and then give yourself time to think about it before posting it.

Getting guest referrals is like finding a valuable treasure that is hidden in plain sight. There is no greater compliment a guest can give than to vouch for your inn and recommend it. Guest reviews are a vital component of getting the word out about your inn and drawing in new guests. When these referrals are broadcast online, their impact and your bottom line increase exponentially!  

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