With a reopening date for hospitality now pencilled in, many businesses will be starting to think about marketing. With huge swathes of the industry throwing open their doors concurrently, visibility online will be essential to success. In the latest Hostech podcast, Gary Banks and Kate Burns from reputation management expert Reputation outline how businesses can get noticed online.
“The vast majority of user journeys start on Google so that’s the one to concentrate on, especially if you are limited on resources, which most restaurants are at the moment,” says customer engagement manager Burns. “By understanding what that algorithm looks for you can increase visibility, get more click throughs and – ultimately – win more customers.”
Google’s Google My Business page – in which owners have direct control over most elements – is the place to start. It is arguably a business’s key online asset, sometimes attracting 10 times the traffic of a venue or brand’s own website and social media pages (stats show usage is growing too, with users clicking on websites and phone numbers at an all-time high). It’s therefore essential that the information within it is accurate and – perhaps less obviously – updated constantly even if there are no changes.
This constant refreshing of information demonstrates to the algorithm that the information is current and therefore pushes it up the rankings. A good online reputation management (RXM) solution will provide the ability to manage and update business listings and how they present across key sources on the web autonomously via APIs, which provide a direct connection with the key sites. It’s also worth enriching listings with up-to-date pictures of food, the staff and the venue itself.
“Rankings aside, businesses should be ensuring the information is accurate regularly because displaying incorrect phone number, addresses and opening times is a poor way to start the customer journey,” continues Burns. “This is especially important at the moment with businesses in a constant state of flux due to the pandemic.”
The quality, quantity and recency of reviews is another important factor in determining where a business will rank in search results. “It’s no good having a single five-star review that’s two years old,” says Burns. “Google must have fresh information to draw on. This is key to getting a good ranking and standing out from the competition.”
So how do businesses go about managing reviews? One of the biggest benefits of an online reputation platform like Reputation is that they can find and bring together reviews from multiple sources and allow teams to respond to them in a structured way. For example, Reputation’s platform can be set to create tickets for every negative review or pass reviews with certain keywords – such as ‘food poisoning’ – to certain team members. Through integration with third party gift card providers, businesses can even automatically tempt customers back with freebies.
Reputation uses APIs to provide its users with a two-way connection to major review websites such as TripAdvisor and social media sites.
Banks – who heads strategic enterprise sales at Reputation – says that with over 90% of people doing their homework online prior to choosing a venue operators ignore this area at their peril.
“Your reputation is safe if the first bit of feedback a potential customer sees is positive,” says Banks. “But, on the other hand, if the first thing that pops up is something from an unhappy customer it’s instantly going to tarnish your reputation in the eyes of that potential guest. They’re likely to choose your competitor over you.”