A restaurant or hotel’s process of selection has radically changed over the past 20 years, mainly because of the digital revolution, especially due to technological evolution and the takeover of Internet. Today, the web reputation is fundamental for each business.
I am Giancarlo De Leonardo and after having spent more than 20 years as a manager and entrepreneur in the restaurant and hotel industry, I have founded a digital marketing company, Caro Collega, specialized in filling room after room and seat after seat for restaurants and hotels, each and every day.
In this article
- How the selection process of a Hotel or Restaurant has changed in the past 20 years
- The common mistake made by Hotels or Restaurants: auto-reference
- The centrality of web reputation
- The role of TripAdvisor
How the selection process of a Hotel or Restaurant has changed in the past 20 years
Twenty years ago, the selection process of a Hotel or Restaurant was:
- Information gathering: it was mainly done through offline sources such as printed tourist guides, advertisements, word of mouth, or simply by physically visiting the place.
- Evaluation of options: this was limited to available information. User reviews were not easily accessible, making it more difficult to compare different options.
- Booking: Reservations were mainly made via telephone, through a travel agent, or directly at the hotel or restaurant.
Today, however, the process of choosing a Hotel or Restaurant is:
- Searching online: Most people begin their search online, using search engines such as Google or review platforms such as TripAdvisor to find hotels or restaurants in their desired location.
- Reading reviews: Customer reviews play an important role in the final decision. Users read the experiences of other customers to evaluate the quality of service.
- Comparison of options: Online price comparators and booking platforms make it easy to compare various hotels or restaurants based on criteria such as price, location, services offered, and reviews.
- Social media interaction: Many customers interact with hotels and restaurants on social media before making a decision. They may look at photos, read comments, or see if the business responds actively and professionally.
- Online booking: Finally, booking is often done online, either through the hotel or restaurant website, or through third-party booking platforms.
These differences underscore the importance of a strong online presence, including web reputation, and active for hotels and restaurants today. Online reputation management, interaction with customers on social media, and ease of online booking are all critical factors that can influence the customer’s final decision.
The common mistake made by Hotels or Restaurants: auto-reference
In the hospitality industry, self-referential communication can lead to a lack of public engagement and trust, negatively affecting web reputation. For many years I managed restaurants and even a tourist destination with a Hotel, Marina, 10 Restaurants, 5 bars and about 20 stores. I was always the best of all or at least that’s how I was presented on Facebook, Instagram, Mail, etc. And that is how I still see most Hotels and Restaurants presenting themselves today.
In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, people are looking for authenticity, transparency, and meaningful interaction with brands.
Communication that focuses solely on self-promotion, on the other hand, can come across as unidirectional and disinterested in customers’ needs and wants.
Here are some reasons why I was inclined to be self-referential:
- Lack of understanding of target audience: often, I could not adequately understand the target audience of the hotel and restaurants I managed. And this led to communication that was not responsive to customers’ needs, wants and interests. Today, the first thing I do together with the Digital Dream Team at Caro Collega is to understand the audience and create messages aligned with them.
- Focus on features rather than benefits: another reason my business communications became self-referential was the focus on the features of the hotel or restaurant, rather than the benefits that customers can derive from them. Guests are more interested in how a service or product can improve their experience, rather than the technical details.
- Lack of a strategic digital marketing plan: this is the main reason I was falling into the trap of self-referential communication. A digital marketing plan, on the other hand, includes setting clear goals, understanding the target audience, choosing appropriate communication channels, and creating relevant messages.
To overcome these problems, hotels and restaurants must follow a hybrid path, that is, made up of corporate employees hired for this purpose and digital marketing agencies that have a deep understanding of the hospitality industry and its specifics.
That as mentioned on other occasions they must be commissioned (involved) in the achievement of well-defined goals. It is precisely these skilled and up-to-date agencies that can help develop and implement effective communication strategies that engage audiences, respond to their needs and desires, and promote the hotel or restaurant in an authentic and non-self-referential way.
The centrality of web reputation
Consequently, in the digital age, the concept of a Hotel or Restaurant’s reputation has evolved to embrace a new dimension: online reputation. Web reputation has assumed a crucial role, particularly in the hospitality industry, where the success of hotels and restaurants depends, to a large extent, on the opinion expressed by customers on the web.
Among the various review platforms, TripAdvisor stands out for its impact and influence.
But why are web reputation and TripAdvisor so important for hotels and restaurants? Here are some explanations.
Web reputation is the digital footprint of a business, a kind of online identity card built through interactions with customers. For a hotel or restaurant, a good web reputation can translate into increased bookings, while a bad reputation can drive away potential customers.
In an increasingly connected world, customers no longer rely solely on word of mouth or traditional advertisements. Before choosing a restaurant or booking a hotel, most people look for opinions online. These reviews, positive or negative, influence the final decision.
The role of TripAdvisor
Among the various review platforms, TripAdvisor plays a leading role. With millions of users worldwide, it has become a reference point for travelers and foodies. Reviews on TripAdvisor can make the difference between a full hotel and an empty one, between a restaurant with a waiting list and a deserted one.
But why is TripAdvisor so influential? First of all, because of its popularity and ease of use. Anyone can read or write reviews, making the platform accessible to everyone. Second, TripAdvisor offers a rating system based on user reviews. A hotel or restaurant with high ratings appears higher in search results, increasing its visibility.
But it is not enough to have a presence on TripAdvisor or to have a web reputation. Proactively managing them is essential. This includes responding to reviews, both positive and negative, in a timely and professional manner. A company that shows that it cares about customer reviews demonstrates respect for its users and attention to the service it provides.
In addition, it is important to incentivize customers to leave reviews. More reviews can improve the rating on TripAdvisor and increase the company’s visibility.
But be careful: reviews must be legitimate. TripAdvisor has strict policies against fake reviews, which can seriously damage a company’s reputation.
Web reputation and TripAdvisor are powerful tools for hotels and restaurants. Managed properly, they can increase visibility, attract new customers, and improve service quality. Ignoring or mismanaging them, on the contrary, can lead to negative consequences.
It is crucial to understand that web reputation is not something static, but a dynamic and constantly evolving process. Similarly, TripAdvisor is not just a place to collect reviews, but a tool to understand customers’ needs and wants, and to improve based on their feedback.
Nevertheless, managing web reputation and TripAdvisor can be complex. It requires time, expertise, and resources. This is where a digital marketing partner specializing in the hospitality industry steps in.
With hands-on experience and digital expertise, an agency can help hotels and restaurants navigate the web world, manage their online reputation, and make the most of platforms such as TripAdvisor.
Collaboration between entrepreneurs and digital professionals is critical for success in this new landscape. On the one hand, the entrepreneur can bring his or her practical experience and industry knowledge. On the other, digital professionals can bring their expertise to translate the entrepreneur’s strategies and suggestions into practice.
In conclusion, web reputation and TripAdvisor are essential tools for hotels and restaurants in the digital age. With the right management and effective collaboration between entrepreneurs and digital professionals, they can become valuable allies for success in the hospitality world.
If anything is unclear to you or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, I answer them all, it’s just a matter of time!
Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, former Hotelier and Restaurateur and today founder of carocollega.com