Getting by with a low marketing budget in the hotel industry is tricky business. It’s even harder still for independent properties when search keywords are already taken by larger hotel brands or OTAs in the area. So what can you do to keep up and stave off the competition for potential visitors? Yelp is one of the main portals online where consumers search and make spending decisions. Yelp attracts 117 million unique monthly visitors and there are 47 million reviews submitted to the site in total (q3 2013). With frugal spending in mind, what are the top 5 free things (with a budget of exactly $0!) that you can do on Yelp as a hotel owner or manager?
1. Respond to reviews. You can respond to reviews about your hotel on Yelp privately or publicly. A private message is similar to an email exchange between you and the customer. A public message can be viewed on your business listing by any internet passers-by, as it appears directly below the review you’re responding to. A great example of how to respond to reviews is Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. The hotel’s marketing manager, Marcia Striffeler, has this advice for other hoteliers:
“Keep your response short and to the point. Make sure that you answer the concerns mentioned in the original message. If there is a matter that could escalate, mention publicly that you have sent the guest a private message and make sure to continue the conversation privately. The answer should focus on the positive as well as any concern in the review.”
2. Let people know you’re on Yelp! Within your business account, head to the tab marked “review badges.” You can post these on your website to show people you’re on Yelp and that they can read other customer reviews about your hotel online. This is a great way to show customers your hotel information from an unbiased source.
3. Upload relevant photos. You can upload an unlimited amount of photos to your business page to showcase your hotel at no cost. A study by Yelp showed that customers spent 2.5 times longer on a business page with photos (versus business pages without) so get snapping!
4. Don’t forget the basics: fill out your business profile. Make sure to keep your business hours and basic information up to date. Having this information correct is vital because consumers can search on Yelp in several ways, including filtering for businesses that are “open now”. Don’t forget- this is the information customers need to find you so having it correct is vital. Hotels can also write a detailed description about what makes their property unique. Make sure to put in the history of your hotel, your general bio and an excerpt about the owner or hotel GM. If you have any specialities, include those too! For example, if you have a pool and fitness centre that’s open 24 hours, that’s a great piece of information for customers who are browsing your hotel.
5. Use the free analytics tools. If you want to see how much traction your business is getting on Yelp, then you will find the activity graphs in your free business owner’s account to be very useful. One of the graphs is the new revenue estimate tool, which shows hotel owners the potential revenue earned by having a free Yelp listing.
Ready to start taking advantage of these free tools for your hotel? You can claim your free business owner account or login at www.biz.yelp.com.
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