Their testimonials underscore that despite the disruptive force social media has had on the hotel industry, traditional hospitality has never been more important.
During the webinar, Brian Payea, TripAdvisor’s Head of Industry Relations, explained that while many factors go into the Popularity Index algorithm, the key areas to focus on are review quality, recency and volume, calling them “hugely important.”
As for the benefits of a top ranking, Adele Gutman, VP, Sales, Marketing & Revenue at the Library Hotel Collection, whose four Manhattan boutique hotels are legendary for dominating the charts on TripAdvisor, says the No.1-ranked Casablanca Hotel “typically receives over 100,000 profile views in a month. The Library, just a few places below, will have half that many viewers, while the Hotel Giraffe and the Elysee will get half of that.”
She adds, “And [not just] casual drifters, but travelers actively seeking out a hotel in New York City … What would you have to pay for that kind of exposure?”
Good question. Of course, few destinations receive as many visitors as New York, but for any destination, a higher ranking means more visitors to your TripAdvisor page, more traffic to booking channels, and greater demand for rooms and services. As for revenue, that will depend on how well you convert.
So what are the secrets to climbing the ranks? Here are eight key strategies that managers at top-ranking hotels shared with me:
1. Provide truly remarkable service
Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles has only 43 rooms, is categorized as a three-star, and doesn’t solicit reviews from guests. Yet it ranks No. 1 out of 304 LA hotels, outranking the five-star Hotel Bel-Air and the Four Seasons and generating far more reviews than much larger hotels.
How? “We generate reviews organically, by providing guests with ridiculously good service, so good they feel compelled to write about the hotel and tell others,” says Darren Ross, Magic Castle Hotel’s general manager. As a result, he estimates that the hotel receives 50,000 visitors to its TripAdvisor listing per month.
2. Be true to brand
That requires strong leadership and a clear vision. “Imagine the stories you want your guests sharing after they leave … and get your staff to see their role in making them happen,” advises Bill Baker of BB&CO Strategic Storytelling.
3. Be “refreshingly honest”
As if the name weren’t enough, the Casablanca Hotel takes great pains on its website to describe Cozy Classic Petite rooms as “small” and offering “no view” and “no bathtub”; the site also says these rooms are “not recommended for couples on long stays.” And yet some guests are still surprised to find these rooms small. “We can certainly say we make every effort to be authentic,” says Gutman. “Refreshingly honest is one of our favorite compliments.”
4. Mobilize the whole team
5. Offer great value
6. Do it with passion every day
Not exactly earth-shattering news for seasoned hoteliers, but it’s not always easy to connect the dots, especially for larger hotels. What impresses me most about Porras is that before opening the hotel he hadn’t worked in hotel management a day in his life. And yet already we have much to learn from him.
7. Focus on traditional hospitality
Since rebranded as The Modern Honolulu, last December the hotel launched a formal reputation management program. Setting guest experience as a top priority, the hotel engages every department in the program, asks guests for reviews at three touch points, and uses ReviewPro to analyze guest sentiment.
As a result, the hotel has climbed to #4 of 83 hotels in Honolulu. Says Nicholas Barger, director of rooms, “You can’t fake your way to the top. You must focus on traditional hospitality.”
8. Prevent escalation
There’s no secret
One thing is clear: TripAdvisor rankings are a moving target, and top-ranking hotels can never rest on their laurels. And while we are enormously grateful to these hotels for sharing their strategies, we need only read their reviews to discover their secrets, where they’re broadcast loud and clear by satisfied guests.
As TripAdvisor’s Payea says, “There’s no secret. It’s about pure hospitality.”
Daniel Edward Craig is a former hotel general manager and the founder of Reknown, a consultancy specializing in social media strategy and online reputation management for hotels and the travel industry. He collaborates with ReviewPro as Industry Advisor, Engagement. Visit www.reknown.com.
Copyright ©2013 Daniel Edward Craig
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.