I have put together a list of a few tips and digital tricks for hotels to gain traction with zero cost. By gaining traction the ultimate goal to get direct bookings will follow.
Social media – Zero Cost
Frist digital tricks for hotels is to create accounts in social media like facebook, twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. These accounts are free to create but maintaining with up to date data, is time consuming. It is nice to have them but it looks very bad if the last post or update is many months ago so make sure that .
Connect with your guests
Not to say all but most of your guests carry their smartphones, tablets or other digital devices where they stay connected to their social media. Don’t hesitate to ask your guests to like your page, follow you on twitter or connect with you in any other social media. The most effective way to do it is after a pleasant experience during their stay and usually after their first day of stay. No one will say no, unless they are unhappy with their accommodation or service.
Get to know your customers
Get some basic date from your customers during check in or check out. Some data that might be handy are:
Family status (family, single etc)
Sex (male female)
Where did they book from?
How many days they will stay?
Country of origin
All of the above can be gathered via a paper form or even better via an Software as a service application where you can easily analyze to target better your marketing activities and budget in the future.
Get real feedback and act on it
The best way to receive feedback from your guest is during check out. A service like accovibe guest survey where it takes no more than 3 minutes to get answers from your guests. This feedback is valuable as you can quickly act in and follow up with an unhappy guest or do necessary changes if you spot comments repetitively.
Ask for a review
Having a serious amount of reviews is a metric for everyone to evaluate and book to your hotel. Try to get as many reviews as possible on Tripadvisor or other local hotel listing sites that might be available. Contact your guests via email after a short period of time (5-10 days) and don’t hesitate to ask for a review providing the link for your listing.
I would love to hear your ideas too on the above list and share you’re thought in the comments below.
TripAdvisor made it fairly simple to add their widget in any website. Adding only a few lines of code in a new page of your CMS (Content Management System) is a job that can be done in just a few minutes. Many hoteliers want to have a Badge or a dedicated page offering simple and easy way to their guests, so to provide feedback as the examples above.
What most of hotel owners don’t know is that by adding the TripAdvisor widget, they also up vote TripAdvisor listing in google search results. I know this is not bad since their hotel will be more visible and have more related top results for their keywords.
Direct vs OTA bookings?
What hoteliers are accomplishing is that their direct google listing, in some cases, will show up second in google search results. As you most probably know TripAdvisor is not an OTA but through their site they offer OTA offers for a listed property. So each visitor has the chance to compare prices for a given date and book through them in a matter of minutes. Check the example below:
That will eventually lead in less direct vs OTA bookings. I am sure that your pocket will hurt by doing that.
Some will say that right now without adding any of TripAdvisor widget my direct website listing in google comes second or even third. Should I add TripAdvisor widget?
The answer to that is still NO!
What you should do
What you should do for sure is try to follow the basic SEO rules so to bring your website above any OTA or TripAdvisor. This is not an easy thing to do but it will pay you back and results are measurable in cases like that. All these OTA you are fighting with in google search results area very well established internet businesses and they are working day in and day out on their SEO. I am sure it will not hurt to invest a small amount of money and for sure some time on a weekly basis by blogging, posting pictures and updating your website with fresh data.
Working on your SEO may bring you more visitors and eventually more direct bookings than adding a widget in your website promoting your “competitors”.
So finally what is the answer on the question: Should I add TripAdvisor widget to my website?
In my opinion for sure you should not add the widget to your site. I am sure that there are different approaches and opinions on the subject and for sure I would like to discuss them with you. So feel free to add your comment below.
In our coming posts I will talk about different approaches and what you should do towards getting more direct bookings.
Last week I was talking with a potential customer and he mentioned that his current method of collecting their hotel surveys, costs him nothing.
Hmmm… That statement got me into thinking of how much it really costs to maintain paper surveys in a hotel .
Have you ever figured that out for your hotel?
After a small chat he mentioned how they handle the process of collecting, replenishment, importing in an excel file and generating statistics for the hotel.
During the next days I also talked with a few more general managers and key persons in different regions of the word. I got a variety of different data cause i wanted to make sure that I was not missing anything.
Next step was to get my favorite tool – Microsoft Excel – and start building my spreadsheet. I entered all the input I collected from hotel managers about the whole process of maintaining pen and paper guest surveys in a hotel.
I first laid out my assumptions and constant values like the number of rooms, cost of printing, average completed surveys per day etc. After that I had to figure out the hidden costs of maintain all this process like data entry, creating statistics and distribution of data.
Here are the data I run my calculations:
Average printing cost: 15 cents per page
Average pre-printed paper cost: 4 cents per page
Number of rooms: 80
Average completed surveys per day: 10
Average compensation rate: 5 Euros per hour
Time needed to import each survey in excel: 1 minute
Time needed to generate statistics per week: 1 hour
Daily time spent collecting and replacing forms: 10 minutes
I got them all together in my sheet and came up with the below costs:
Annual printing cost: 560 Euro
Annual paper cost: 186 Euro
Annual import in excel cost: 300 Euro
Annual producing and distributing statistics cost: 260
Annual cost for collecting and replacing forms: 300
Total cost 1606 Euro per year!!!
1606 Euro for a tedious job like maintaining hotel guest surveys in an 80 room hotel.
I am sure that 1606 Euro per year for a job that doesn’t cost anything is a big deal!
Some may say that all this work is done when they have nothing else to do. My answer to that is that the cleaning ladies can spent one extra minute in the room. The receptionist can spent one or two minutes more with a guest. This way you can provide better service.
Before posting the article in the blog I sent it to the person I had the initial conversation to get his feedback. When he called me, the first thing he mentioned on the phone was that he never put much thought into the cost of a hotel survey.
Don’t take for granted my calculations since the costs can change from one region of the word to another. Do it for yourself and comment below number of rooms and total cost.
The number of rooms and how many completed surveys a hotel have doesn’t change much the total cost. What can dramatically change the equation is the process that each hotel follows and the data they want to extract.
Another factor is, what hotel management wants to do with that data and if it means something to them.
What about having your survey availabe on the internet at all times?
In one of my next posts I will talk about the different approach hotel management follow with the data they gather. I am sure that we will give some valuable ideas to all of you.
In the meantime drop a tweet in my twitter account to have a chat. I am always available.
Since Tripadvisor popularity index was introduced many hoteliers and property management companies want their hotels to climb higher in the ranking.
The exposure a hotel gets with just a few positions higher or lower can make a huge difference. All hotels have to compete, from remote places where only a hand full of hotels exist, to the really cluttered destinations. where thousands of people are searching every day for the perfect hotel to stay.
Tripadvisor hotel popularity index is exactly the same as google search ranking for every keyword but for travelers. A nice example to understand the value of popularity index is someone’s blog. If for example a persons blog shows up on the first place in organic search it can have one thousand organic visitors per month. For the same keywords another person blog that appears on the second page can have only 100 visitors per month.
The exposure a hotel gets with high popularity index can make the difference.
When searching on Tripadvisor by location the view of the hotels is according popularity index.
Here is an Example:
Lets see an example to make it more clear to everyone. When looking for hotels in New York City I get 448 results. The first hotel in the list is Chelsea Pines Inn and the second is Casablanca Hotel Times Square at least today that I did the search because next week this might be changed.
Tripadvisor popularity index is changing on a weekly basis. If you take a closer look in the picture above you will notice that the first hotel in the list has less review in total and also lower review rates! Why?
As soon as you get a better understanding about popularity rankings and what it really means, check where you stand and why is that. Evaluate your position, understand why you are there and check what you are doing well or what are the areas that you need to improve. Finally set top priorities that you should focus in the months to come and start executing.
Listen to your guests. I am not onlt talking during check out where everyone is asking “how was your stay with us” and the response, 9 out of 10 times, is “very good”. Try to get your guests to give you feedback and that is done with the guest surveys and some smart techniques that we will talk in our next post.
I would also suggest
Provide excellent customer experience to every single guest and some of them will pay it back to you with a great review.
Always follow up on your guests no matter if they have a positive or a negative experience during their stay.
Always read what your guests have to say in satisfaction surveys because that is exactly how they view your property.
What you should avoid:
Don’t try to cheat by sending friends and family to submit reviews for your hotel. Tripadvisor didn’t become number one reference for all travelers just by luck but due to hard work. What i can tell you that if they suspect that you try to cheat you will see how the bottom of list looks like.
Don’t suggest your guests to complete a review on Tripadvisor at your hotel premises or offering “reward” for doing that. This approach will eventually have negative impact in your popularity ranking since it violates TripAdvisor’s Terms of Service.
What is coming next
Hopefully, you enjoyed our first blog post. The material that we will post here is absolutely free and it is not necessary to be an Accovibe customer to come and check us out (even though you can sign up for a free trial here)
We will post at least one article per week trying to help all hotel managers or property management companies. Our goal is to suggest a few simple things you can do towards having a bigger traction or provide better services.