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How Social Engagement Can Boost Hotel Revenue

It’s no secret that consumers rely on online hotel reviews to make reservations. According to a recent TrustYou study, 95 percent of all travelers use online review sites like TripAdvisor to help them make their final decision. While a hotel’s overall brand reputation is still important, potential guests want to know the nuances of individual properties.
Positive online reviews not only help increase bookings, but they also allow the hotel to increase its room fees. A recent Cornell University study found that by boosting its overall review score by one point (based on the typical five-star rating system), a hotel can increase room rates up to 11 percent. Hotel guests clearly want the best experience, even if it costs more. More than 75 percent of guests are willing to pay more for a room that has positive reviews, and they are four times as likely to move to a pricier hotel option if the ratings are outstanding.  
How online engagement affects hotel bookings and revenue should be top of mind for every hotel manager, says Joseph Ogden, professor of communications at Brigham Young University, who studies online reviews and their impact on the hotel industry. “Social media pages and online reviews are your new ‘lobby,’” he explains. “Making a good impression there really does lead to higher occupancies and higher rates.”
In his research, Ogden found three specific points that most impact online reviews: The quantity of reviews, the recentness of reviews, and the quality of reviews (i.e., the weighted sum of the scores). Having a high volume of new reviews, for example, demonstrates not only the popularity of a particular location but also that guests are enthusiastic about their experience and want to share it online. Ogden also found that guests who post reviews most frequently tend to leave higher reviews.   
Clearly, online reviews are vital to the hotel’s bottom line. But how do you get more guests to post about their experience? This article, from HYP3R, will discuss some strategies that hotels can employ to encourage positive guest reviews.
Why wait? Engage with guests on-property
One way to increase your review score is to engage with your guests via social media during their stay, rather than responding to their TripAdvisor review once they’ve left. Your most valuable guests are the ones who are at your hotel right now—why wait to engage with them online after they’ve left the property?
Using location-based marketing tools, hotel managers can now discover all public social media activity posted from their property. They can use this data to understand what guests are posting about and identify opportunities to engage with them to elevate their experience.
Social engagements can range from simple likes or personalized comments on a guest’s post, to in-person “surprise and delight” moments. For example, suppose a couple gets engaged at a hotel and posts about it publicly on Instagram. With a location-based marketing platform, the hotel manager can receive an alert about the couple’s celebration and send a bottle of champagne to their room. Such thoughtful touches allow hotels to build loyalty among their guests, who feel treated as individuals rather than part of an anonymous crowd of customers.
After building these online relationships with guests, hotel managers can take the opportunity to continue their conversation by asking if the guest would leave a review. A simple response following the engagement such as “So glad to have you with us. Don’t forget to tell us about your stay by leaving a review on TripAdvisor!” can go a long way. A guest is more likely to leave a positive review after being engaged via social media by the hotel, rather than being solicited without any prior interaction.
Track, measure, optimize
Social benchmarking tools also help hotel managers track the impact of their engagements. HYP3R recommends tracking the Geosocial Index, which measures public social activity at hotels and other locations to calculate a score and real-time ranking. Hotels can use it to benchmark their properties’ social activity and to compare their scores to others within their portfolio and across the industry. If, for example, a hotel tries out a new social engagement strategy with guests and they see a subsequent increase in their Geosocial Index ranking, they know that the strategy was successful. 
The future of online reviews is social
We know that keeping guests happy leads to better reviews and increased hotel revenue. Location-based social engagement is just a new way to elevate the guest experience and increase the volume of reviews.
When guests are delighted by these enhanced experiences, chances are they will post about them on social media. In fact, after interactions like the marriage proposal example, guests often follow the hotel’s social account or reply with a mention. When happy guests engage with hotels online, it serves as an implicit recommendation—allowing hotels to reach beyond the individual and drive affinity among the guest’s network of friends and followers. In a way, tracking social activity at a hotel may be more relevant to consumers than TripAdvisor scores, since they can get a first-hand, in-the-moment peek at guests’ experiences.
On-location engagement gives your hotel the ability to connect with guests when and where it matters most—during their stay. There’s no time like the present, and engaging the guests who are at your hotel can be far more valuable—both monetarily and experientially—than waiting till after they’ve checked out. 
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