For businesses in the hospitality industry, your brand consists of everything that you do, from the way your staff greets customers and your menu to your website, social media profiles and online reviews. Your brand is all about how you communicate what you do and why you do it to the world and how your customers respond to that.
While brand management can be a very wide-reaching thing, today we’ll talk about ways you can manage your brand online using review websites and social media marketing. This kind of brand management is highly accessible and can be done at any time and from anywhere - a definite plus for busy hospitality entrepreneurs!
Why online reviews matter
Online reviews and feedback posted on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and TripAdvisor can make or break a hospitality business. If you don’t believe us, just consider the fact that one survey found that two-thirds of customers form their opinion of a business after reading just four reviews.
Your customers are bound to trust their peers more than you - while your marketing messaging can be engaging and enticing, at the end of the day your would-be customers are pretty switched on: they know when they are being sold to, so they look to reviews to get a more complete and objective image of the quality of your business. That’s why you need to have a strategy for getting more online reviews for your business.
Getting more reviews and dealing with the negative ones
To get more reviews, you should encourage your customers to write them any chance you get. This includes social media posts, emails you send out, having a sign by your check-out counter and bringing this up in face-to-face conversations. Add links for leaving reviews in things like your booking confirmation emails and ask for a review when a customer tells you how much they love your business in person.
Pick the review sites that are most relevant to your business and create profiles on them or claim existing ones. Then, you should fill them in as much possible - this makes potential customers more likely to convert as they’ll have all the information they need in one place. Following these tips, you should start to build a solid stream of reviews over time.
Managing your online reputation
And do you want to know a secret? You don’t need to have only 4 and 5-star ratings to have an excellent online reputation! If you respond to them quickly and in a constructive manner, the occasional bad review can even be beneficial to your business.
This is how you do it: you write an answer to all reviews - yes, even the bad ones. This is key to reputation management. You should remain calm and professional even if you disagree with the reviewer and look for a way to make things better. This could be assuring them that you’re looking into the matter or explaining the steps you’ll take based on the feedback. Any kind of discount for the customer’s next visit can be very beneficial here, and offering a partial complete refund if necessary can also help mitigate the negative effect of a bad review. Having said that, we all know there are people out there who will try to exploit that system, so use your judgement when dealing with complaints.
If you notice a pattern in your bad reviews, a detailed plan of action for rectifying these issues might be necessary, in which case mentioning this in your replies could be a good idea. Try your best to see negative reviews as a useful resource for improving your business - even if they’re hard to read at times, acting on them could help you take your business to the next level. To take things a step further, read critical reviews directed at your competitors and find ways to do things better than them.
By following these guidelines, you show customers both past, present and future that their opinion is important to you and you’re committed to always improving your customer experience.
Why hospitality businesses need social media
If you’re any good at what you do (and we bet you are!), you’ll be able to find a number of social media posts about your business with social listening tactics like tracking certain search terms and hashtags whether or not you have an existing social media strategy.
That’s why it would be a major missed opportunity to not take advantage of this free marketing channel. This is true especially when it comes to millennial and Gen Z consumers, a good chunk of buying decisions are strongly influenced by social media posts. This includes both posts created by you and their peers.
Another reason you need to be on social media is that it offers great insight into what your customers like and dislike. While you can gain a lot of this information from online reviews, as we’ve already mentioned, not everyone takes then time to write these. Some would rather comment on a picture you post on Instagram to say they loved their last visit or tweet at you to say they were served a cold meal. That’s why it’s important to have a person in your business whose job it is to reply to comments - this will foster goodwill.
How to get started on social media
If you’re fairly new to the whole social media game and don’t have a big audience just yet, don’t stress! It’s by no means too late to get started. The first thing you’ll want to do is select a couple of key platforms you want to focus on - building a strong and strategic presence on one or two platforms is much better than trying to go after all of them without thinking much about what kind of posts do well on that platform and if your audience even uses it.
For hotels, restaurants and cafes, Instagram is great because it puts emphasis on the visual side of things: you can showcase your best dishes, unique touches in your decor and the people behind your business. Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter are good for starting conversations with your customers and sharing updates and events.
If you’re willing to invest in your social media presence, you can also decide to run some social media PPC campaigns to draw more eyes to your profiles and website. Facebook ads manager allows you to post ads on both Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, while Twitter has its own advertising platform.
Community management should also be a key part of your social media management strategy. Build a fanbase around your social media posts by developing a consistent look and feel to your posts, replying to comments made by your followers and encouraging customers to share their own experiences using something like a branded hashtag.
Sharing user-generated content on your social media platforms helps build trust with your audience - after all, it shows that other people enjoy your business. Investing in a bit of influencer marketing is also a way to get some high-quality user-generated content. Instagrammable interiors and plating can encourage all customers to snap and share more photos of your establishment.
How Bundle Digital can help
The world of digital marketing can seem slightly overwhelming if you’re already spending most of your waking hours building your business. That’s why investing in a bit of expert help from a digital agency is a good idea. Working with Bundle Digital means you get support for your brand management from digital marketing experts specialised in working with hospitality and leisure brands.
We can support your social media marketing with high-quality posts and community management, advertise your business across social platforms and take ownership of digital marketing activities that boost your online presence, from fun and informative blog posts to engaging email marketing campaigns. If you’d like to find out more about how our digital marketing packages work, check out our pricing page or get in touch with us directly by clicking the link below.