The path to purchase for travellers is not as straightforward as it used to be – they may begin with Googling your region, a popular local attraction or even a conference venue rather than your city or part of town, or they might know your name from a friend, but not know your website address. Wherever they begin, at some point they will get their first impression of your hotel. What does this say about you?
If you have an Online Reputation Management partner, keeping track of this becomes an easier task, but nothing can replace a little direct market research every now and again to experience exactly what users go through before they find you, and to make sure that the image that a prospective guest gleans of your hotel from your online presence is an accurate one.
Let’s start at the very beginning: Google yourself
This is the most basic part of managing your online image, but it is often overlooked. When you want to find out more about something online, your first port of call is usually Google. Remember that your prospective guests don’t know your website URL, social media handles, and where to find your online travel agent listings, but you can be pretty sure that they know how to use Google.
What appears on the first page of Google’s search results when you search your establishment’s name is what people will find out about you first online. Is your hotel website on the first page of the results? When you google your town or area, do you come up?
Top Tip: If you can’t justify an AdWords expenditure, you should at least make sure that you are managing your listings on Google’s own platforms such as Google+ and Maps, as if a “knowledge box” is shown on the search engine results page, a lot of the information will be pulled from Google’s own network of websites.
First impressions count (especially when competition is so high)
Once you have googled yourself, click on the first five or so relevant results.
If you were a traveller, would you stay at your hotel based on those first few results? Make sure that everything you can control about them, such as the photos and descriptions on your OTA listings are as enticing and accurate possible.
Some questions that are good to ask:
- Are the photos and descriptions for your hotel up-to-date, accurate and interesting?
- Can you quickly get the essence of your hotel’s facilities?
- Are your rates and specials consistent across all your channels?
- Is it easy to book a night’s stay with you?
- Is there someone looking after your users online and replying to their reviews?