Any seasoned traveller knows the value of customer reviews when planning the next trip. We know that the difference between a great holiday and the trip from hell can rest on the choice of accommodation, and we also know that hotels and resorts can… well, they can take a few liberties with the descriptions of their properties. That ‘beautiful sea view’ could so easily leave out the fact that there’s an active construction site in the way, and the ‘free continental breakfast’ can look remarkably like a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal on close inspection.
It’s for that reason that the wise traveller – and everyone else, for that matter – loves customer reviews. We love to spend hours browsing online to find the ideal mixture of great value and awesome feedback, and the hotelier who can learn how to collect positive customer reviews will soon find that vacancies are no longer a problem. Plus genuine, positive reviews on recognised review sites such as Google+ Local, Yelp and TripAdvisor can all help do wonders for local SEO and improve search engine rankings for a tourism business, thus amplifying the benefit.
If only it were easy to collect 5 star reviews from visitors, all tourism business owners would be masters at reputation marketing. If collecting a bevy of stellar reviews was easy then every hotel, hostel, resort and campsite on the planet would have page after page of feedback filling their websites. We know that’s not the case, so there must surely be some trick to convincing customers to take the time to leave their thoughts and opinions.
Well, I wouldn’t use the word ‘trick’, but there are certainly a few things you can do to increase the amount of customer feedback you receive. Let’s start with…
1. Just Ask
The old saying ‘Those who don’t ask, don’t get’ is particularly apt here. Most people usually don’t feel inclined to post a review unless they’ve had a very good or very bad experience, and since most customers will fall somewhere between those two extremes you’re probably letting most of your customers fall through the cracks if you’re not actively pursuing feedback.
However, with a simple request you should see your response rates go through the roof. Most booking sites and large hotel chains send an email out to their customers a few days after their stay has ended, and that simple act is enough to spur a large number of people to spend a few minutes writing a review.
2. Make It Easy
Of course, no amount of requests will help you if your feedback form is slow, cumbersome and less than user-friendly. It’s your call whether to moderate your reviews or post them instantly, but you need to make it as simple as possible to leave feedback.
Nobody wants to have to fill out a dozen fields in order to post a review on your site, and by the very act of making it a nuisance to submit you may find the reviews less than impressive when your customers have finally ploughed through them.
The emails you send to your customers should contain a simple link to the review submission page on your site, or an external review site such as Google+ Local or Yelp, and once they click through it should be as simple as possible to leave a review.
3. Offer Incentives
If all else fails, there’s nothing better to drive customers to a feedback form than a little self-interest. The popular hotel booking site Agoda (www.agoda.com) really knows how to collect customer reviews. The site offers its users reward points in exchange for feedback, and these points can be used to reduce the cost of future bookings.
If you’re struggling to convince your customers to leave their opinions, why not offer them a discount on their next booking? If not, how about a simple coupon for a discount at a local restaurant? Whatever you can offer that might appeal to your customers should help boost your feedback rates.
It’s 99% Perspiration
At the end of the day all you have to know is that collecting customer feedback is something that you have to work at. You can’t just hope that your customers will take it upon themselves to spare the time to leave a review. You have to make it easy for them, and at the very least ask them to do you a favor. It really works.
If you need help setting up and implementing your review strategy, give us a call so we can help you build a 5 star reputation online.
Elliot Walker is the founder and director of Coast 360 Digital Marketing. A former journalist and travel content producer for Virgin Media, Elliot has over 15 years of web marketing experience. He is an SEO specialist with expertise in managing website design and content strategy to maximise search rankings.