We are in the age of the Internet, featuring online reviews as an integral part of the success of those in the hotel industry. To help keep your establishment thriving, here are some dos and don’ts of managing a property’s online reputation.

Know the demographics. It’s vital to understand the demographics of your guests and what social media platforms they use. For example, the millennial age group tends to participate on Instagram, Tumblr and Vine rather than the more traditional platforms. Millenial users also float between platforms, while older users prefer to become comfortable with one platform and stick with it.

For some hotels that are more visually beautiful and have great photography, visual platforms such as Pinterest of Instagram are perfect for showing off your property. However, if your desired demographic does not use these websites, then don’t waste your time on them. It’s more important to make decisions based on the demographics of your guests.

Determine what boosts revenue. Choosing to be on the appropriate platforms for your property can lead to more bookings. Determine what the current trends in the industry are and where you would like to gain business from – these will be your main sources of revenue. For example, having a good reputation-management platform can lead to revenue opportunities, especially for independent properties. Because of this, some hotels even post reviews from sites like TripAdvisor directly on their property’s website. This kind of transparency builds trust, leading to more travelers booking on the website.

Prepare for complaints. When managing the online reputation of your business, you need to have thick skin because of what is perceived as numerous complaints about the condition and performance of the property. If your property receives a negative review, don’t get upset – instead, relax and learn from the comments. Be sure to respond to the comments, ensuring the guest that you understand their frustration and are working to improve on the problems. Then encourage them to return to the property and observe the changes that were made. Guests will appreciate that you have listened and responded to their complaints.

Engage your guests. Reputation management also involves engaging guests and encouraging them to give feedback about the property. The age, quality and quantity of your property’s online reviews can affect the ranking’s of your hotel on sites like TripAdvisor. Your approach to negative reviews is just as important as the reviews themselves. Avoid using corporate-speak; instead, have a casual approach to your comments while still being professional. Personalize your responses for each guest rather than having a template for responses. However, a certain framework may be helpful in your responses. First, you should apologize, then write something that lets the guest know that you’re being genuine and actually read and understood their complaint. Finally, get them offline and have them call you or you call them to resolve the issue.

Prioritizing. It’s completely understandable that there may be too many reviews on a site to respond to, and although you should respond to as many reviews as possible, you need to prioritize them in order of importance. Usually, the longer, more detailed reviews will be at the top of the list.

Managing a hotel’s online reputation successfully takes time and patience. But whether you decide to manage it in-house or outsource to another business, it should be a high priority, considering today’s travelers go online to research hotels before deciding where to book. The Best Western MarketPlace is your source for the latest tips and trends of the hospitality industry. Click here to learn more about the Best Western MarketPlace and how it can benefit your business.