Bed and Breakfast (B&B) enterprises face tough competition against small and mid-size hotels, especially independently owned and operated businesses. To attract guests, B&B accommodations must have an online reputation management policy in place. Why? For a number of reasons. First, because online reputation management is all about building a positive brand image of the B&B. Second, observing guest feedback online will help to improve services. Third, online reviews often play an important role in influencing guest decisions. In fact, according to a recent hospitality industry survey, 97.7% of travelers read online reviews from other travelers. Therefore, it is vital to keep a watchful eye on what is being said about one's property. Fourth, responding to a critical comment in an amicable manner shows professionalism. Fifth, one's online reputation has a direct connection to bookings and revue.
Keeping these important points in mind, this article from Hotelogix discusses five ways a Bed and Breakfast can improve its online reputation and improve bookings.
A good number of travelers often leave hotel reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. This is the most important place online to read what your guests have to say. Try to get a complete grasp of the details. Both positive as well as poor reviews should be seen as equally important. Spend time to respond to both kinds of reviews. Always remember to respond politely to agitated guests and try to resolve the problem online. Offer to follow-up in person or over the phone and sort out the problem to maintain a good relationship with the guest. This will display a professional attitude to new travelers who are browsing the review site in search of a perfect B&B. As a B&B manager, you can use this situation to get more referrals.
Guests do not want to feel forced into giving feedback. However, subtle in-person reminders are useful. For example, request that the front desk personnel gently ask guests about their experience and encourage them to share the details via a feedback form. Or, use an SMS service to send a link so that the guest can register the feedback at a convenient time. Ask for improvement suggestions, what was the best thing about the B&B and other questions that should give you detailed insights. This will help to resolve issues in real-time in case a particular guest is unhappy with the service. Understanding the problem-area once you receive the feedback and solving it instantly will be better rather than finding out about it days later from an annoyed guest writing hurtful remarks online.
- Watch your Profile Online
It’s not enough to update your profile on various websites and with OTAs. You need to update details constantly to attract travelers who are looking for the best deals online. A B&B may be a smaller property as compared to hotels but there’s a niche group of travelers looking for a personal touch to their stay. Use this to your advantage, update your online pages with the latest images, add videos, and be innovative in creating a buzz. Even if you are a small-sized B&B, highlight your unique selling points. If you do not have a website, create one at once! A website is a must for new travelers seeking information and it can also drive direct bookings to your hotels. Be aware about the rates and details published on websites of OTAs and ensure your details are up to date at all times.
- Manage Your Social Media Presence
A majority of travelers upload photographs and videos of their travel stays on social media channels. This is one of the easiest ways to grab attention online. Get professional help to keep your social media channels updated. Be regular in posting updates, highlight package deals, videos and testimonials to drive more bookings. It’s not enough to talk only about your hotel premises. Spend time engaging with guests via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Ask questions, tag visitors, introduce offers, run contests and be creative to maintain a loyal base of fan following. Blog and connect with guest bloggers to widen your reach online.
- Be Efficient and Prompt
Another key to managing your online reputation is to ensure you show promptness in your replies. Your staff needs to be efficient while dealing with queries online. Your query may appear as a Facebook message, or a comment on your website. A prompt reply shows you have a team in place and you care what your guests have to say. This can be practiced at the hotel’s premises as well. Anything added to enhance a guest experience during the stay will speak volumes for the kind of reviews you will get online. So, remember efficiency and promptness in service must begin at the hotel to get better reviews online.
While everyone is most concerned about online reviews, another important factor to consider is the word-of-mouth publicity. Happy guests ensure they tell people about their stay. In today’s times, word-of-mouth can happen either in person or online. This is one of the best ways to get recommendations.