Welcome to the culture of convenience
Convenience is a customer experience essential. It is revolutionizing how customers interact with brands within the hospitality industry. Studies reveal that 58% of customers consider ‘the ability to find what they want quickly and easily’ as the most critical factor in determining which brands they buy from.
Interestingly, psychology attributes this customer behavior to two reasons. One, we live in a quickly-changing world and have become busy like never before. Two, since we are busy, thinking has become a chore; we seek the easiest option and make the fastest choice available to us.
Let’s turn the table around
You know what customers expect from you. Now, let’s turn this around and look at it from your perspective, the hotelier.
- What are your customers finding when they search for your hotel online?
- If they need to know the phone number to your hotel or restaurant, how quickly can they access it?
- If they want to make a reservation for dinner, how can they make one?
- If they want to know whether you have parking available, how will they find out?
- Does your restaurant have a bar or is it an alcohol-free restaurant?
It is paramount that you make such information available to your customers before they even visit your website but how do you accomplish this?
Say hello to Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business is a free tool that helps hoteliers quickly create GMB listings and manage their online presence across Google’s services namely Search and Maps. It enables customers to find relevant information about your business such as operating hours, location, customer reviews, contact information, etc.
With a GMB listing and the right kind of optimization, you can be at the top of search results. The signals sent from GMB play a crucial role in your local SEO strategy. It also enables you to
- Control the information customers see about your business.
- Interact with prospective customers; respond to booking inquiries and reservations.
- Respond to customer reviews and manage your online reputation.
- Crowdsource photos, videos, and other customer-generated content.
- Gather insights on how your customers search your business or find your website.
- Create hotel ads from your GMB listing to boost your business’ online presence.
Optimize your business listing on Google
#1 Keep information accurate, relevant, and up-to-date
First things first. You need to make sure that the information you publish on your GMB listing is always accurate and consistent across all of Google’s services and online directories, right down to the tiniest of details. You can always use a digital profile management tool to take care of your restaurant and bar’s online profiles. You also need to make sure to —
- Add basic information such as your hotel’s name, address, phone number, and zip code.
- Use business posts to keep customers in the know about offers and other relevant information.
- Use hotel attributes and amenities to inform customers about what you offer or what is unique to your business.
- Add the right category for your business — is it a hotel, a restaurant, or a bar?
- Add a COVID-19 responder policy to let customers know about the safety precautions you and your staff take when preparing food.
- Add hotel highlights to provide prospective customers with a quick glance at some of your hotel’s amenities.
- Set “located in” relations to your hotel to let customers know if a business such as a spa or boutique is located within your hotel.
- Add pictures that appeal to your ideal customers.
Pro tip: Use a menu management tool to create and publish customized content and images across all your digital listings including GMB.
#2 Respond to customer reviews actively
Customer reviews have a powerful impact on rankings because high-quality reviews improve your hotel’s visibility. According to a local SEO study, the number of reviews with responses and the number of negative reviews with no responses are equally important trust signals for your hotel business. Hence, make sure you respond to all customer reviews to demonstrate that you value their feedback and insights.
Pro tip: Create and run review generation campaigns to increase the volume of your 5-star reviews.
#3 Optimize for mobile search
Hotels who adopt mobile responsiveness and optimize for mobile search can see significant growth in website traffic and revenue. In order to make your GMB listing stand out on mobile searches, you can add posts, visual media, invite users to contact you through Business Messages, and include questions and answers.
You can also use Google’s booking button, to make it easy for your customers to make reservations on their mobile devices.
#4 Optimize for voice search
“The way people are searching is definitely changing,” says Justine McNamara, Senior SEO Specialist at Next Guest. “In order to keep up with that, hotels really need to consider the kind of content they have on their sites, to make it more likely to be pulled into the answers that voice-search devices are giving."
Google my business allows you to create descriptions of your hotels. Consider using long-tail keywords that your prospective customers might use when they search for your hotel. Since there is less competition for long-tail keywords, be specific.
Make sure you keep the tone conversational and avoid stuffing your descriptions with keywords. You can also use voice search SEO tools to increase the chances of your brand being found on Google.
Pro tip: Incorporate keywords in languages that your local customers might use — a smart way to outdo larger brands.
We want food. We want it now.
The Harvard Business Review Centre has observed that delivering great customer service is no longer about delighting customers. It’s about reducing their efforts. When it comes to online search, the modern customer is accustomed to unlimited access to the Internet and digital platforms, enabling a learned preference for quick answers.
Creating a reliable online presence is integral to your hotel’s success, now and in the future. It’s time you leverage Google My Business to cater to the culture of convenience.