Tuesday 27 May 2014

Reviews - the Future for Hotels

But before we look into our crystal ball, let's recap on the current state-of-play. Today's reviews market is dominated by 'first entrants': businesses that saw an opportunity to pitch their tents on a vacant lot. Sites like Yelp and Expedia and TripAdvisor. Sites like these can cover everything (Yelp) or anything (TripAdvisor - travel).

Just like the 'Wild West' we alluded to back in June last year - or perhaps more akin to a  gold rush? But, just as these historical events ran their course, so will the web resolve itself out of this anarchic phase. But how? And when?

How? And When?

We've got a much better picture of the 'How?' than the 'When?', but it's the 'How?' that is most important for our clients: and this is very much up to Google. Google is the sherriff, the President, the gatekeeper - all rolled into one. No-one gets access to anything on the web without Google's say-so. 

And when your potential guests* go to Google, it gives them the information it knows they want.

How does Google know what they want? The simple answer is that Google knows what they searched for, not just a millisecond ago, but in the last hour/day/week/year. In most cases it also knows where they live (at a minimum, their home country) and an awful lot about their lifestyle and purchasing habits.

So Google gives them this, right at the top:

And then this:

And then this: 


Given what we know of people's behaviour when they're browsing the web (that 8 times out of 10 they will look at the first relevant result) they will increasingly be drawn to Google's reviews in preference to any others (unless Google draws a blank). So the 'wild west campers' like this:

And this...

 And this...

And this...

...will become much less relevant as time goes by. Whether or not the reviews they contain are positive or negative, because as your potential guests* will  become conditioned to going no farther than Google for reviews, they won't be looking at these sites nearly so much. 

This is actually a huge advantage for most hotels as it means they will only have to focus on getting reviews to Google; of course its also a massive advantage for our clients, as Dialogue is expressly designed to do just that (after, of course, ensuring that the reviews have been processed through Resolution™ and our client has been given the opportunity to respond, in private, to any issues raised).

*And don't ignore Google's impact on your returning guests: increasingly we 'Google' for details of businesses we use, even if it's just for an address or 'phone number, but Google shows us reviews all the same.

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