How to use Hotel Reviews for Viral Marketing.
By Patrick Landman
Monday, 7th December 2009
Two weeks ago Xotels was at BTO, Buy Tourism Online, an industry trade fair in Florence Italy; we were asked to give speech about 'Tourism and Social'.

Brainstorming on presenting something practical we came up with a very simple viral marketing technique for hotels.

We see that a lot of hoteliers are afraid to enter into the discussion online on social networks and communities. Even though we are in the hospitality industry and we have no problem to talk to a complete stranger in the lobby, reception or restaurant of the hotel, as soon as it goes online we freeze.

But hospitality starts online. We have to be more welcoming and communicative online. Why can't have the same passion and drive online as we have online. Where does this fear come from? Is it fear for technology? Or are we afraid that everyone can see it on the internet and that it will be there forever.

To overcome these concerns and fears we recommend hotels to start with simple steps and engage with our existing guests. An easy way would be to do the following;
  • Go to Review Websites like TripAdvisor, TravelPost, Trivago, Vinivi, Zoover, etc and find your favorite reviews.
  • Copy the best phrase and page url for this individual review.
  • Go to your corporate / company FaceBook page and past the sentence and url in there.
  • On the review website respond to the review by thanking the guest for his compliment. Mention that you posted the review on your FaceBook page and that he should check it out.
  • Chances are he will go there and click on the like button. Now all his FaceBook friends can see he liked your hotel.
This is a very simple way to start engaging and communicating with your guests online. And the trick is that you let them spread the message for you... This is viral marketing. Simple, right?

The next step would be to send and email after check-out to all guests asking them to write something about their stay on a selection of review websites. Not just TripAdvisor of course, but you have to make sure you get reviews on all review sites and travel communities.

Here is a small list to get you started;
  • TripAdvisor.com
  • TravelPost.com
  • Trivago.com
  • Igougo.com
  • Uptake.com
  • Hotelicopter.com
  • Virtualtourist.com
  • Holidaywatchdog.com
  • Vinivi.co.uk
  • Zoover.com
  • Holidays-uncovered.co.uk
  • Globalhotelreview.com
  • Mytravelguide.com
  • Travbuddy.com
  • Shermanstravel.com
  • Hotelscombined.com
  • Zoomandgo.com
  • Hotels.about.com
  • Triptake.com
  • Hotelmotelreviews.com
  • Hotelscoop.com
  • Hotelshark.com
  • Driftr.com
  • Bootsnall.com
  • Travellerspoint.com
Sorry, I kept on running into hotel review sites and travel communities. The list became longer than foreseen... You need to check these websites to see which ones are strong for your destination and make sure your guests start sharing their experiences with fellow travelers.

To incentivize them you could award a free weekend each month for the review with the best picture of your hotel. There needs to be something in it for your guests if you want them to promote you.

Besides asking them to put a review on these travel websites, also ask them to post it directly on your FaceBook page. If you can get them to do it, itfs much better of course.

As you can see, it is quite simple to start getting involved in social networks and implement creative ways to promote your hotel. Most important is that you target you existing customers. They will be easier to engage. And to make it work in the end, they must spread the message to their friends.

I hope these tips in viral marketing are of help.

For more information on hotel revenue management go to www.xotels.com/en/hotel-revenue-management or contact;

Patrick Landman
Email: patrick@xotels.com
Phone: +34 931 824 537
Skype: plandman
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