Hotel Industry Blog

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Responding to Tripadvisor reviews of your hotel

Aleks Grzegorzak in Bookassist's Dublin office asks: "Have you checked reviews of your hotel at Tripadvisor website yet? "

Whether you like it or not, your previous guests like to share their opinion with friends, and the same applies to the Internet where social media websites allow them to share their experiences publicly with others. The only difference is that this time your guest shares his or her opinion with millions of people all over the world. The most popular website with reviews on hotels and vacations is www.tripadvisor.com.

The good news, however, is that this website allows hoteliers to respond to reviews.

There are already over 15 million reviews at Tripadvisor. Over 20,000 people visit the website daily for advice on hotels and vacation. Reviews online are a very important part of your web presence and it is up to the hotel’s general/sales/reservations managers to either monitor reviews and take appropriate action to control their image online or ignore them and allow themselves to be condemned for the image being created by somebody else.

Think: If somebody insults you in front of others, don’t you respond appropriately? If somebody compliments you, don’t you say thank you? The same rules apply to online reviews so take responsibility and act today. And remember to respond to both negative and positive reviews. It can be a great way of customer relationship management, too! You can do this in a few very easy steps.

1. Go to www.tripadvisor.com and write a name of your hotel in the search box provided:


2. It can yield more than one result, so find your hotel on the list and click on the link ‘Reviews of Your Hotel’ (highlighted in blue):


3. The link brings you to your hotel’s profile with reviews below:


4. Below the reviews there is a green frame for hotel’s owner with a link to the owner’s page (highlighted in blue):


5. The link brings you to the next screen with further links. Click on the ‘Respond to a review’:


6. The next page has a few drop-down lists where you can choose options of your choice:


7. Respond!

And remember you can set a Google Alert for your hotel page also so you can be informed when any new review is added.

Aleks Grzegorzak, BookassistAleks Grzegorzak is Internet Support Coordinator in Bookassist's Dublin office

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hotels should offer reviews on their sites - Forrester

Eva Reyero in Bookassist's Madrid office noted that Bookassist's Travel 2.0 approach has been endorsed by Forrester Research.

Bookassist's approach of offering Travel 2.0 technologies such as reviews directly embedded in hotel websites as part of the booking engine suite has been endorsed by recent comments from Forrester Research.

Sarah Rotman Epps writing on forrester.com in an article headed "It's Time For Hotels To Offer Traveler-Written Reviews On Their Web Sites" comments that "...hotels can offer something that most third-party sites don't: validation that the reviewer actually stayed in the hotel....Give travelers the content and tools they need to distinguish the right hotel for their needs for a particular trip so that they can complete their booking on your Web site. Reviews are one element that influences a traveler's booking decision, but they're not the only — or even the primary — influencer. Hotel Web sites need a robust offering of content and tools that may include, but should not be limited to, traveler-written reviews."

Bookassist has long advocated the drive towards Web 2.0 technologies in the travel industry and released its Travel 2.0 booking engine upgrade in March 2008, as well as a comprehensive Travel 2.0 offering for hotel groups. The Bookassist approach allows customer reviews to be embedded in the hotel website along with booking facilities, vouchers, Google maps and other technologies.

Eva Reyero, BookassistEva Reyero is a co-founder of Bookassist and heads marketing and research at Bookassist's Madrid Office

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Get your business onto Google Maps

You can add your hotel to Google Maps as a Business so that it shows up if people are searching for hotels, notes Des O'Mahony.

People are increasingly using Google Maps to find local information, first locating the area of interest and then using Google Map "Find businesses" option as shown here.

It is vital that you get your business listed, and it's very simple. It all happens in Google's Local Business Centre.

If you don't have a Google account, do this:
* First, go to Google Maps on maps.google.com
* Either move the map to your hotel's location or use the search to type in your street address and it should locate you properly.
* In the search results column on the left you will see a link that says "Put your business on Google Maps", click on that
* If you have a Google account, log in. If not, take a few minutes to create one.

If you do have a Google account, log in, go to "My Account" in the menu bar and choose "Local Business Centre".

Once in Local Business Centre, choose to set up a new business:
* You will be asked to specify your business's details and contact phone number - this will be used to verify your entry so make sure you are near that phone to complete the process
* Choose your category as "hotel" or other as appropriate - you can add more categories if you cater for other services such as conference, wedding etc
* You should consider uploading high quality photographs to give users a feel for your product, up to 10 are allowed
* Once you have gone through the addition of all information, you will have the option of having the information verified by phone, by SMS or by postal verification - if you choose phone, the system will display a PIN number on screen and will phone the main business number that you gave immediately, asking you to enter that PIN. (You must be able to take that automated call directly as it will not be switchable through a switchboard. But you can give a direct line as your main business number and, once the call verifies you, you can then edit your business profile to switch the main business number to something else.)
* Once verified, you will be quickly live, usually immediately. To check, go back to maps.google.com and use the "Find businesses" option to search for your category in your area, eg "hotel" and you should appear.
* You can edit your listing at any time by logging in and going to the Local Business Centre

Note that if you have a series of offices or hotels, you can set up multiple locations.

Also, in the Local Business Centre you can track access to your listings and see if it is popular. To make maximum use of this, you should ensure you have online reservations as an additional attribute. You will more than likely also see your business listed by other vendors - it is up to you whether you want that to continue or not.

The screenshot above right shows Bookassist being found "locally" in the marketing category.

Des O'Mahony, BookassistDr Des O'Mahony is co-founder and Managing Director of Bookassist

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Travel 2.0 issues: How can I listen to online conversations?

"Before you jump in and partake in online social media, you need to first listen to online conversations that involve you", writes Foncho Ramírez

Technorati reported that the year 2008 began with more than 120 million active conversations published online in several blogging networks. Online conversations are more and more crucial for your business. As we know, the best way to start participating in this media is first to listen. But there are thousands and thousands of themes out there, how can I find relevant streams of information for my market and company? How can I start participating in these social networks? Before you jump in and partake in online social media, you need to first listen to online conversations that involve you.

Use a feed reader and sign up for regular updates of your favorites sources of information. A feed reader is a web application which aggregates or gathers together syndicated web content as news headlines and blog entries creating a single location for all your relevant updated news sources.

Go and sign up for one now! Here is a short list of well known free and web based feed readers to join: Google Reader, Netvides, Bloglines. Click on the links, review the services and select the one you like the most.

Now that you have downloaded or signed up for a feed reader you have to add subscriptions from your favorite news sources, such as this Bookassist travel industry blog. Just look for the RSS symbol in any blog or webpage and you subscribe to it as a reader.

The second way to listen your market on the net is to set alerts for your hotel keywords. From my point of view every hotel needs to set alerts: in Technorati for blogs, in Google Alerts for general websites and in Tripadvisor for guest reviews that are related to their hotel. These are the most significant online applications for managing your hotel reputation on the net and you need to know what is there so that you can make sure your image is handled correctly and fairly.

The alerts systems mail you every time their search engine spider finds a new file on the internet with your keyword term in it. This is a very powerful tool and is very helpful for hotels finding hidden clients reviews, comments, questions, special offers, etc. You can set any type of terms like your hotel name, your brand, your closest touristic attractions or even your own name. You can add any keyword term for the search and as many as you want.

This "listening" system will work as your basic collection engine for information in social media. Any time someone talks about you in the net you will be able to hear it and answer it faster that anybody else.

Foncho Ramirez, BookassistFoncho Ramírez is Senior Search Engine Specialist at Bookassist's Madrid office and is a Google Adwords Professional

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