Hotels must harness the power of consumer reviews in order to remain competitive, an industry expert has insisted.
Vice president marketing of social media consultancy firm Revinate, Michelle Wohl, told yesterday's No Vacancy conference in Sydney that 92% of people referred to online sources when planning and researching their last trip, with people considering an average of seven properties when booking.
"To make the most of your online reputation you need to make sure you are fully optimised on these sites," she warned.
Wohl urged businesses to obtain the "full marketing value" of consumer feedback by soliciting, responding to and actively sharing reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, while acting to avoid bad ones.
Not only are proactively collected reviews more likely to be positive, she argued, but a greater number of reviews can improve a property's ranking on TripAdvisor.
Complete transparency regarding the hotel's offering is also vital to ensure customers do not leave a hotel disappointed, she added.
"The whole goal should be keeping people from writing bad stuff about you," Wohl said.
But she stressed that when bad feedback is received, it should be displayed along with the good in order to achieve credibility with guests.
Wohl said hoteliers not to be deterred by the possibility of bad reviews, revealing the average rating in Asia Pacific is an impressive 4.2 out of 5.
She also referred to a Cornell study which showed a rating increase of one point in a five point scale on a review site makes users 13.5% are more likely to book that hotel.