Authenticity is what makes your brand stand out to potential travelers. By turning past guests into online influencers, you can enlist important cheerleaders and raving fans for your brand and listings.
95 percent of travelers read online reviews before deciding to book accommodations (TrustYou) and those reviews can increase conversions by 270 percent (Speigel Research Center). But reviews are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to building brand equity using past guests. Read on for more!
Four effective ways to transform past guests into your influencers are:
- Make it easy for past guests to provide reviews
- Respond to your guest reviews
- Encourage past guests to participate in photo and video contests
- Leverage hashtags
1. Make it easy for travelers to provide reviews
Most of the time, guests want to share their experiences. Make it simple for them to share by targeting them with Google and Rezfusion review pop-ups. In addition, post-departure emails are a perfect opportunity to encourage your guests to give honest reviews about their stay. With the right call to action, there’s no need to send “how to” instructions, instead one click can send past guests directly to your property page or Google to leave a review.
Also: Don’t get discouraged by negative reviews! Consumers know that not everyone is happy with their experiences. Honest and personal reviews validate your business as trustworthy and reputable. However, it’s important to respond to those reviews promptly to try to rectify the situation. By responding to the review directly, you have the opportunity to resolve issues, make improvements – showing that your brand cares.
If you are having trouble converting happy guests into online reviews, considering offering something to your happy guests in exchange for a review! Over the last three years, nearly 40% of consumers have reported that they have been awarded with discounts, gifts, or even cash for a publicly posted review.
2. Respond to your guests
There are two ways you can respond to guests.
First, with reviews. It’s not enough to simply ask for feedback, you also need to respond to it.
Ensure your guests feel that they are heard and you care about what they are saying. One of the biggest mistakes a property manager can make is sending a review to your guest asking how their stay was – and not reading them or following up with any concerns. Make sure that you address any concerns or issues that your guests raise in their feedback. By showing that you care about their experience and are actively working to improve it, you’ll create a positive impression and increase the likelihood that they’ll recommend your vacation rental to others.
A second way to respond to guests is interacting with them on social media.
Engaging with your guests on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share their posts, comment on their photos, and tag them in your own posts. This will show that you appreciate their support and are willing to engage with them on a personal level.
3. Start a photo contest
Just like reviews, photos are a key part in establishing your brand’s authenticity. Collecting guest photos and videos is a great way to build your media library.
To encourage photo and video submissions, take a page from Hobbs Realty’s book and start your own photo contest. The contest will not only encourage current and past guests to interact with your brand, it improves engagement across channels – including social media – and grows your subscriber list.
Here’s how Hobbs encourages guests to participate:
- Use an app or create a page that allows people to submit photos
- Gather data by requiring guests to either “Like” or “Follow” your social media channels and/or provide their email address to submit photos.
- Announce weekly (or monthly) winner who get swag bags of promotional coupons.
4. Leverage a company hashtag
Hashtags are an effective and free way for businesses to connect with consumers and get in front of new eyes. Hashtags have exploded in some social platforms, like Instagram. Not only are people using hashtags in their post content, but hashtags have become a part of the app’s search engine. Consumers are able to find and purchase products through a simple hashtag search without leaving their favorite social platform.
If you’ve already decided on a company hashtag – awesome! Share it with your guests and ask them to use it when they post their experiences online. If you do not already leverage a hashtag for your business, start by creating one that is specific to your brand and location.
Communicating with past guests and providing them with a platform to share their experiences at your property not only facilitates brand loyalty and increases repeat bookings, it also aids in turning lookers into bookers.
To dive deeper into the topics discussed above, connect with our team to discuss how you can take advantage of Bluetent’s email and digital marketing services.