Effective Strategies For Hotels to Cultivate a Positive Online Reputation Featured Image

Effective Strategies For Hotels to Cultivate a Positive Online Reputation

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When looking online for a place to stay, most consumers sort their search results by average ratings. So it is easy to see how a positive online reputation can make or break a hotel—especially for smaller establishments.

Online reputation management (ORM) for hotels is not only a good idea in 2023; it is a must. ORM for hotels involves tracking and shaping your business’s online footprint, from your own website to social platforms and online review sites.

At Minc Law, our experienced internet defamation and content removal attorneys help individuals and businesses safeguard and improve their online reputations. We offer online reputation management and digital risk protection services to not only watch for possible online threats but proactively build a positive public reputation.

In this article, we provide an in-depth guide to reputation management for hotels—including how to evaluate your current reputation, manage online reviews, and minimize future reputational threats.

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What is Online Reputation Management for Hotels?

Because consumers often make purchase decisions based on online research, when your online reputation suffers—so does your business.

In this section, we define online reputation management and what it means for those in the hospitality industry.

Definition of Online Reputation Management

Your online reputation is the cumulative online public opinion of your brand. It is formed by everything about you on the internet, including Google search results, your social media presence, news articles, online reviews, and your own website.

Reputation management, therefore, involves monitoring your online footprint on a continual basis. It also involves taking steps to protect and improve your reputation with tactics such as:

  • Monitoring any online mentions of you or your business,
  • Responding to negative reviews,
  • Creating positive blog content about your brand,
  • Utilizing SEO best practices to promote your branded content in Google search results.

What is Online Reputation Management for Hotels?

Hotel reputation management, or online reputation management for hotels, is the process of monitoring your establishment’s online presence (and curating a positive one). To maintain a positive impression on potential guests, your reputation management process should include optimizing your website for search, monitoring and responding to reviews, and keeping a positive social media presence.

Since guests are more likely to choose a hotel that has significant positive reviews and an appealing website, building a positive online reputation can give your property a leg up over the competition.

Why is a Hotel’s Reputation Important?

As you might imagine, potential hotel guests are extremely concerned with choosing a property that meets their expectations. A single scathing review about your hotel’s cleanliness or amenities can cause many potential customers to book a room at another property instead.

An estimated 95% of hotel guests check online reviews before choosing a place to stay. And one 2022 BrightLocal survey found that these travelers are not simply scanning average star ratings; 43% of consumers take more than ten minutes reading online reviews on average.

Therefore, a positive hotel reputation is crucial for maintaining steady occupancy levels and ongoing business growth.

Practicing quality reputation management can increase customer loyalty and improve guest experiences overall. Informative, accurate reviews and branded content can provide a clear idea of your hotel’s amenities and services—which lets guests make informed decisions about where to stay. And a positive online reputation can lead to increased brand visibility, more repeat stays, and higher revenue in the long run.

What Are the Benefits of a Positive Reputation For a Hotel?

In the hospitality industry, your reputation is everything. The benefits of a positive online reputation include:

  • More bookings and loyal customers,
  • Greater brand visibility and authority,
  • A more talented and enthusiastic workforce, and
  • Higher revenue and increased bottom line.

Please see our comprehensive guide by paralegal Darcy Buxton explaining why a positive reputation is important in business.

More Bookings & Loyal Customers

Prospective guests rely heavily on online reviews from past patrons before deciding on a place to stay. In fact, one Expedia study found that 72% of customers place a higher value on guest ratings than on a hotel’s brand name.

Hotels with overwhelmingly positive ratings have an easier time attracting guests—while just a few negative reviews can drive away customers.

Greater Brand Visibility & Authority

Hotels with a lot of positive reviews have more opportunities for increased exposure, partnership opportunities, and overall online visibility. In turn, increased brand visibility and recognition can help attract more guests.

Consumers are much more likely to patronize a brand they trust—and if your hotel has higher brand visibility and recognition, they are more likely to trust you.

A More Talented & Enthusiastic Workforce

Hotels with a reputation as a great place to work also attract top talent for their workforce more easily. And when your employees are skilled and enthusiastic about their work, your hotel will draw in even more business.

Higher Revenue & Increased Bottom Line

The hospitality industry is highly competitive, which means that the smallest shift in public perception can have an outsized impact on your hotel’s market share. A positive online reputation can attract more guests, maximize your revenue, and give you an edge over the competition.

How to Audit & Optimize Your Hotel’s Online Reputation

Countless factors can drive and destroy a hotel’s reputation. Businesses where customers are physically spending their time—and that can shape the customer’s entire vacation—are under especially close scrutiny.

Online hotel reputation management involves many people, from sales and marketing at the hotel, to review websites, to social media accounts and business profiles. Offline contributors to your overall reputation also include your customer service policies, staff interactions with guests, and the quality of your rooms and services.

Business Owner's Guide to Monitoring Online Reputation

What Are Some Major Components of a Hotel’s Reputation?

A hotel’s reputation is made up of many factors, the most important of which include:

  • Offline reputation and guest experience,
  • Social media presence,
  • Hotel awards and certifications,
  • Review profile(s),
  • Corporate governance and leadership,
  • Local and general SEO, and
  • Corporate social responsibility.

The Quality of Your Offline Reputation & Real Guest Experiences

Even the best online reputation management strategies cannot outweigh a bad product or service. For hotels, your first priority must be providing a genuinely positive experience for your guests.

If a customer leaves your property unsatisfied—especially if their real experience did not match what was promised online—they will share their experience with others. They may tell their friends and family not to stay at your property, and they are likely to leave a negative review online as well.

Ensure that your rooms are clean and well-appointed, your prices are fair, and your staff is professional and friendly. By starting with a good offline experience for customers, you can then curate an online reputation to match.

Social Media Presence

Social media can be a powerful asset in building your online reputation and increasing brand visibility.

It is tempting for busy hotel managers to post infrequently—such as for deals and specials—but the best way to use social media is to establish a strong social marketing presence. Posting regularly and interacting with followers helps you not only increase brand visibility but curate your brand’s reputation.

Hotel Awards & Certifications

It should be part of your business growth strategy to aim to win as many hotel awards as possible.

In the hospitality industry, awards and industry recognition contribute greatly to consumer trust. Independent and smaller hotels especially can benefit from the credibility lent by certificates and awards.

Review Profile

Due to the influence of online reviews on a customer’s booking decisions, your property’s review profile is a major contributor to your overall reputation and success.

Online reviews are a kind of word-of-mouth marketing that holds great sway over potential guests. Instead of getting their opinions from TV advertisements or billboards, customers have immediate access to a detail-rich history of past guests’ feedback.

Corporate Governance & Leadership

A business’s reputation is greatly influenced by its leadership. Fair or not, your CEO’s personal reputation can often make the difference between a positive and a negative public perception of your brand.

For further reading, please see our comprehensive resource explaining the corporate reputation management process.

Local & General SEO

Most potential guests search for hotels in a specific area. Using SEO best practices can help your property appear on the search engine results page when the right keywords are searched. This, in turn, leads to greater website traffic and a higher probability of bookings.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Your guests want to patronize socially responsible businesses—including the hotels where they vacation. If your brand is known for socially responsible policies like eco-friendliness and charitable donations, it will be easier to build a positive reputation within the community.

How Can Hotels Audit Their Online Reputations?

When beginning a reputation audit, start by researching what is already being said about your hotel online. Do not turn a blind eye to negative conversations.

Look for a wide variety of forums and feedback types to gather an accurate representation of your online reputation. Check places such as:

  • Online review sites,
  • Travel-related forums,
  • Social media platforms, and
  • Search engines (search for your hotel’s name or relevant keywords).

Examples of Hotels with Stellar Hotel Reputation Management

While there are numerous examples of poor and ineffective hotel reputation management, it is helpful to learn from organizations that are getting it right. Below, we examine two properties that have mastered effective reputation management tactics.

Hyde Suites Midtown Miami

Ranked second out of 140 Miami hotels on TripAdvisor, Hyde Suites Midtown Miami has 225 total reviews—210 of which rank “very good” or “excellent.”

The property’s staff—including the general manager—makes sure to respond to each review. This simple technique helps make guests feel seen and potential guests feel confident in the level of service provided at the property.

EcoCamp Patagonia

Eco-friendliness is a challenge for any hotel—but Chile’s EcoCamp Patagonia takes sustainability to a new level. As the world’s first geodesic dome hotel, EcoCamp offers nature tours, yoga and wellness, and more.

The property focuses on its eco-friendliness in its marketing efforts, making it an easy choice for guests who are concerned about climate change.

Tips For Successful Hotel Reputation Management & Optimizing Your Hotel’s Online Reputation

When building a reputation management strategy, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use SEO best practices,
  • Build a positive social media presence,
  • Encourage positive reviews,
  • Partner with travel websites and agencies, and
  • Cultivate a positive work environment for employees.

1. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices

Most of your prospective guests start their search for a hotel with Google or another search engine. Therefore, your site needs to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) if you want to be found.

You should be following standard SEO tips like using the right keywords and following readability practices for your website, but optimizing your website for search is not your only concern. You may also want to consider the following techniques to boost your listing on travel websites like Trip Advisor and Expedia:

  • Enticing listing headlines,
  • Thoughtful descriptions,
  • Professional photos,
  • As many reviews as possible (with responses from your staff),
  • Instant booking, and
  • Flexible cancellation policies.

2. Build a Positive Social Media Presence

Social platforms are the perfect place to connect with your target audience and build authority in your industry. Your social media strategy should include developing a consistent—and authentic—brand voice across platforms.

By posting regularly and engaging organically with your followers, you can boost brand loyalty and increase the chances of repeat bookings.

3. Encourage Positive Reviews

Reviews can make or break a hotel—especially for small and independent properties. 81% of consumers regularly read reviews before booking a hotel, and a 1-star rating increase can lead to a 3% rise in your hotel’s monthly revenue.

To maximize your bookings, increase revenue, and build your online reputation, encourage each satisfied guest to leave a review on popular travel sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia.

4. Partner With Travel Websites & Agencies

Partnering with popular travel websites, agencies, and bloggers can be an effective strategy for hotels seeking to increase revenue and fill unbooked rooms during quiet seasons.

Doing so is also important for establishing (and cultivating) brand awareness and creating an additional marketing channel for potential guests to find your hotel.

5. Nurturing a Positive Work Environment For Employees

Establishing and cultivating a positive work environment and company culture is crucial for increasing the quality of service provided, morale, sales, and employee retention rates. One hotel employee satisfaction study found that a happy employee was, on average, 37% more productive and reduced turnover rates by roughly 25%.

Key ways to establish and nurture a positive work environment and company culture include:

  • Establishing clear employee expectations from the beginning,
  • Providing competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits,
  • Offering opportunities for personal and professional growth,
  • Practicing transparency and open communication,
  • Addressing workplace issues in an equitable and efficient manner,
  • Ensuring that an employee’s hard work does not go unnoticed.

How Hotels Can Manage Online Reviews

Online reviews are the biggest driving factor in a hotel’s reputation. So when you receive a negative review, it is important to have a strategy in place to manage, respond to, and remove it.

How Should Hotels Respond to Negative Online Reviews?

Because they take place in such a public forum, negative reviews must be handled carefully to avoid making the problem worse.

We recommend keeping the following tips in mind when developing your review management strategy and responding to bad reviews on the internet:

Respond to the Review in a Timely Manner

Since 53% of customers expect a business to respond to their review within a week, it is a good policy to respond as soon as you can.

However, do not submit a reply if you do not feel you can respond calmly. Answering an angry review with defensiveness or immaturity will likely only make the situation worse.

Address the Guest by Name

If the guest left their name, address them by name in your response. This simple personal touch goes a long way in diffusing tension and making the guest feel heard (and reminding them that another human is on the other end of the conversation).

But if they posted anonymously, do not use their name—even if you can guess who it is from context. Calling them out can put them on the defensive, and it could be considered a violation of confidentiality.

Understand What the Guest is Saying

When you receive a negative review, it is natural to become defensive. But to respond well to the review and properly address the guest’s concerns, it is important to understand what they are saying.

Take a moment to try reading the review from the guest’s perspective—and tailor your response to what they wrote, not what you think their experience actually was. Avoid making excuses; instead, look for a way to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

Thank Them for Leaving the Review

Even if the review is negative, you should thank each reviewer for taking the time to leave feedback. Negative reviews can be seen as constructive criticism of your hotel; it gives you an opportunity to improve your services for all of your future guests.

Sympathize With the Guest

Even if you believe the guest is exaggerating events in their review, try to sympathize with their feelings. A bad experience at a hotel can affect an entire trip, which would make anyone upset.

In your response, acknowledge the guest’s feelings and show sympathy for their unsatisfactory experience.

Genuinely Apologize & Try to Resolve the Issue

Next, apologize sincerely (and without being passive-aggressive). Even if you do not believe your staff or services are at fault, take responsibility for making things right.

In some cases, it might be easy to come up with a solution to the guest’s complaint. Perhaps they simply want an apology or an acknowledgment of their poor experience. In other cases, they may be satisfied with a refund or discount on a future stay.

In other cases, you may need to ask the guest what you can do to resolve the situation.

Keep the Response Short—Take the Discussion Offline

Do not engage in a prolonged argument in a public forum. Writing a long and detailed response to the customer might offer more opportunities for them to become upset and write another negative response.

One way to avoid public back-and-forth is to leave your contact information at the end of your response and invite the guest to reach out to you directly. Not only does this method take the conversation to a more private forum, but it gives a personal touch to your response and lets the guest know you are invested in making things right.

How Should You NOT React to Negative Reviews Online?

While we encourage hotel managers to respond to all (real) reviews, there are ways a response can make matters worse rather than better. In your response, be sure to avoid:

  • Taking the feedback personally
  • Getting defensive or making excuses
  • Insulting the reviewer

Avoid Taking the Feedback Personally

Especially if you are a manager who is very involved in day-to-day operations, it is easy to feel personally attacked by a bad review of your hotel. These feelings are only natural—but try not to let them affect you too much.

After reading a negative review, take a deep breath and try looking at the post objectively. Remember that a (reasonable) negative review is a chance to reevaluate your business operations and improve your services for future guests.

Avoid Getting Defensive or Making Excuses

You may not agree with the reviewer’s version of events—and you may even know specific facts you could use to refute them. But defending yourself often does very little good in an online forum.

Do not make excuses for why the customer had a poor experience at your hotel, either. A defensive response can make the guest feel dismissed or unheard, which might prompt them to reply with another negative post. And defensiveness shows potential guests that you cannot take responsibility for a poor guest experience.

Avoid Using Insults

It should go without saying, but keep your response professional and appropriate. Never resort to calling the guests names or using foul language. Even if the guest uses inappropriate language in their original review, sinking to their level is an easy way to lose business.

Not only will using insults burn bridges with that guest, but it will make other readers reluctant to book a stay with you. And in some cases, your nasty reply might go viral and lose you even more business.

How Hotels Can Recognize Fake Online Reviews

While negative reviews from real guests present an opportunity to improve your business practices and customer service, not all online reviews are from real customers. Some malicious actors might try to harm your hotel’s reputation by posting false and misleading claims on popular review platforms.

There is no benefit to responding to these types of reviews—instead, you should learn how to spot fake reviews so that you do not waste your time. The following six tips are usually reliable ways to spot fake reviews on common review platforms:

  • Check your records to see if you can identify the guest or situation being mentioned. If they left their name, try to find out whether a guest by that name stayed at your property.
  • Look for suspicious usernames. Many online trolls or bad-faith posters use aliases—usually anonymized (like “Danny F.” or “Jane D.”). Some even use sarcastic usernames like “Ben Dover” or “Seymore Butts.”
  • Research the reviewer’s account. If the account appears to have minimal activity other than the review for your hotel—or if it was even created on the same day as that review—this is a red flag.
  • Look for signs of a professional hit job. Your competitors may have hired a review “hitman” or agency to write fake reviews to harm your business. Red flags of a hit job include inflammatory rhetoric, grammar errors, a lack of details about your property, and even blatant promotion of a competitor.

If you think a negative review was not posted by a real guest—or it is an untrue version of a real guest’s experience—you may be able to have it removed. Many review platforms have terms of service that prohibit fake or untruthful reviews.

If removing the review is difficult, you can create positive content to suppress it instead. This content will most likely be positive reviews from real, satisfied customers. Suppression is a common tactic used by online reputation management services.

Video: Minc Law’s Online Reputation Management Services Explained

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How to Encourage Happy Guests to Leave Reviews

One of the most reliable ways to improve your hotel’s reputation—and suppress negative or fake reviews—is to garner positive reviews from satisfied guests. Follow these tips to ensure your happiest customers consistently leave reviews:

Provide High-Quality Service

The easiest way to ensure a high number of positive reviews is to optimize each guest’s experience at your property. Aim to go above and beyond whenever you can.

Create a Standardized Review Process

Standardizing your feedback requests helps relieve some of the awkwardness of asking for reviews—and ensures that guests do not fall through the cracks.

You may decide to set reminders to follow up with past guests two weeks after their stay to ask for feedback and encourage them to leave a review on a popular platform.

Make It Easy to Leave a Review While the Guest is Still on Your Property

Your guests are much more likely to leave a review while your property is front of mind. Many hotels leave easily visible table tents in guest rooms with messages like “Tell us how you are enjoying your experience so far!”

Add Feedback Requests to Your “Thank You” Emails

If you do not already send a thank-you note after each guest checks out, this is your sign to start—and be sure to add a quick request for feedback to the body of the message. A link to TripAdvisor or Expedia can make it even easier for guests to follow through.

Personalize Your Review Requests

Guests are more likely to respond to a request that does not feel like a bulk, formulaic email. Refer to them by name, thank them for choosing your hotel, and ask for an honest review of their experience on your property.

Target Satisfied Customers

If your goal is to improve your overall rating on review platforms, you should prioritize guests that you know are happy with their stay. If a guest shows signs of being satisfied with their experience at your hotel, be sure to invite them personally to leave a review.

To systematize the process of targeting happy guests, you could send a generic customer satisfaction survey to all guests—then invite those who respond positively to leave a review or testimonial.

How Hotels Can Minimize Future Threats to Their Reputations

Especially in the hospitality industry, your online reputation has a very real financial impact on your business. Below, we offer actionable tips for minimizing hazards to your reputation and responding effectively to any reputational risks that might surface.

How Can You Prevent a Hotel Reputational Crisis?

The best way to protect your reputation is to learn how to prevent a crisis before it happens. We recommend the following:

  • Prioritize excellent customer service,
  • Create a positive workplace for your staff,
  • Employ a strict code of conduct,
  • Claim all business profiles and respond to online reviews,
  • Monitor your online reputation,
  • Create positive content about your brand, and
  • Be mindful of external reputational risks.

For further reading, please see our comprehensive resources explaining common reputational risk examples and reputation crisis management.

Prioritize Excellent Customer Service

Providing adequate customer service training to your staff helps ensure every guest has the best experience possible. When making hiring decisions, choose candidates with friendly dispositions and the appropriate customer service skills. You may also want to give frontline staff the ability to resolve complaints and provide solutions without delay or confusion.

Create a Positive Workplace for Your Staff

It is easier for your staff to provide a cheerful and professional experience for your guests if they themselves are happy at work. Set systems in place to ensure employee satisfaction, such as:

  • Competitive wages and benefits,
  • Regular check-ins,
  • Adequate training, and
  • Safe avenues for feedback.

Employ a Strict Code of Conduct

One major contributor to reputational risk is unethical behavior. Hold everyone in your organization—from janitorial staff to the CEO—to a high standard of ethics. Your culture of integrity should start from the top, with your core values guiding every workplace decision and strategic move.

Claim All Business Profiles & Respond to Reviews

When managing your online presence, your first step should be to claim your property’s listings on all of the major travel review sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia, as well as general search engines like Google and yelp.

After you have claimed a profile, you will be able to respond to reviews and keep your information up to date. Claiming your profile also keeps others from claiming it on your behalf.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

Stay aware of the public’s perception of your brand. Use Google Alerts to receive notifications whenever your hotel is mentioned online, and Google your hotel in incognito mode from time to time to review the top results.

You can also use online reputation management services to keep thorough tabs on your online reputation and respond quickly to any untrue rumors or negative PR.

Create Positive Content About Your Brand

One way to suppress negative online content and steer the narrative about your hotel is to create positive, branded content.

A consistent marketing strategy helps you get ahead of negative press by building a curated brand image. Positive content on your blog, YouTube channel, and social profiles can help drown out false and negative content from malicious third parties.

Be Mindful of External Reputational Risks

Some causes of reputational damage are outside of your organization’s control. Your reputation is partly dependent on external parties like vendors, suppliers, contractors, and partners. If they are part of a scandal or reputational crisis, your brand’s credibility can be damaged by association.

Stay aware of news and reputational risks relating to your third-party associates, and be ready to deal with any negative repercussions swiftly.

Work With Professional Services & Tools to Help With Reputation Management

Reputation management services are typically a worthwhile investment—especially if your brand is on the receiving end of negative press, fake reviews, or public backlash. There are many reputational management tools and services available today, but most can be categorized into three main types of services:

Online Reputation Management Professionals

An online reputation management (ORM) team does more than suppress or remove negative content. It is a holistic service that uses multiple strategies, tools, and methods to protect your digital assets.

These professionals know how to highlight the positives about your brand and intentionally craft your reputation. Such techniques include creating positive online content and using SEO to help that content rank higher in Google results.

If you are considering exploring ORM services, please read our comprehensive guide explaining how much online reputation management costs.

Free & Paid Tools For DIY Reputation Monitoring

While true online reputation management cannot be automated, there are a few tools available to help individuals and brands monitor their reputation more easily, such as:

  • Reputation monitoring tools like Google Alerts, Awario, and Talkwalker Alerts;
  • Social media “buzz” tools like Sprout Social and Mention;
  • Review solicitation tools like ReviewInc and Birdeye;
  • Business review management tools like Swell and Podium;
  • SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and Website Grader by Hubspot;
  • Social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout;
  • Web content and research tools like Exploding Topics, SEMrush, and Buzzsumo; and
  • Digital risk protection tools like ZeroFOX.

Internet Reputation & Content Removal Attorneys

The online reputation management world can sometimes be difficult to navigate for beginners, which unfortunately means there are some predatory and dishonest ORM services out there. In this landscape, many brands choose to turn to attorneys instead, since they are:

  • Professionally licensed,
  • Easily searchable online, and
  • Bound by ethical regulations and considerations.

An experienced defamation and content removal attorney can help you navigate reporting procedures, initiate legal action for court orders if needed, and monitor the internet for new threats.

At Minc Law, we understand the devastating and damaging effects a negative online presence can have on a hotel and its success. We have helped both individuals and businesses remove over 50,000 pieces of damaging online content, minimize digital threats to their reputations, and bolster their online profiles.


“Minc Law did an outstanding job on our case, particularly Daniel and his team. They guided us through the entire process of unveiling the individual who was defaming our business online, and then all the way through to getting a satisfactory settlement. They always returned calls and offered sound advice for whatever came up during our case. If I ever need these types of services again, I will definitely go to them first.”

Jason M

May 12, 2021

If you would like to explore custom online reputation management services for your hotel or business, reach out to schedule your initial, no-obligation consultation with an intake specialist by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.

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