I blogged last month about the value of reviews. To reiterate, reviews are probably the most important content you can have in your marketing content armoury, and not only because they’re a free gift, presented to you by your guests.

I’ll explain below why the best of all reviews are Google reviews and why they are a gift that keeps on giving.

Google is the most widely used search engine globally, and its Google reviews are prominently displayed in Search results and Google Maps. When potential guests search for accommodation or experiences in a destination, they are more likely to rely on Google reviews to gauge the quality and reputation of your business before they commit to book. High ratings and positive Google reviews significantly increase your search visibility and engender guests’ trust in the credibility of your offerings.

Google reviews will also play a vital role in your local search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses with a good array of positive reviews over time, will likely appear in Google’s ‘local pack’, which is the prominent section of Google search results that focusses on local businesses related to a user’s search query. Positive reviews signal to Google’s algorithm that your business is credible and relevant to local search queries. This drastically improves your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Google Travel and Google Explore

If you’ve not heard about Google’s rapidly developing tools in travel Search and Maps, let me go a bit deeper on this as I’m sure you’ll see quickly how powerful it can be for you.

Google is pushing further into the travel space with tools for travellers to plan and book trips and explore destinations wholly within Google using AI-based itinerary creation capability in Search and Maps.

In both Google Travel and Explore, Google presents local search results that feature the top-ranking local listings for the searched location. They are displayed by category as a set of three or more results when a user searches for a local business displayed above the traditional organic search results. Google creates the list by drawing on, amongst other things, businesses reviews and images.

In the Google travel and explore listings, businesses are attached to their geographic location, contact information, hours of operation, and other relevant information.

Consumers can click on a listing to learn more about the business, pricing, photos, customer reviews, call, get directions and, here’s the ultimate prize, click to book and pay directly with business (with no commission!!).

If you want to appear in and get the most out of Google, there are three things to do.

  1. Either create or claim your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. I’ve explained GBPs in last month’s blog, but in summary, it’s a free platform that allows you to showcase your business information and essentially turbo charges both your ranking in the Google Travel and Explore listings and, if you’re connected to TXA, can become a key booking channel for your business.
  2. Embed your Google map location on the Contact page (or similar) on your website.
  3. Create a pathway to booking that allows consumers that engage with your GBP to act. This is where TXA can help. Once you have your Google Business Profile, connect to TXA and opt-in to Google and you can then present “Book Now” buttons that deliver direct, commission free bookings straight into your booking system with instant payment at time of booking, direct to your bank account.

It is important to understand that Google reviews are directly tied to your Google Business profile. A fully detailed GBP profile with positive reviews will enhance your online presence, provide valuable information to potential guests, and facilitate interactions with your audience through features like messaging and the direct booking buttons I mentioned above.

Google’s review system is user-friendly and accessible across multiple devices. This accessibility makes it easy for guests to leave reviews, delivering more feedback compared to say the OTA’s platforms.

While Google reviews are undoubtedly important, it’s essential for businesses to maintain a positive reputation across all relevant platforms, including OTAs, social media, and your own website. Each serves a unique purpose and caters to different audiences. Diversifying review sources will help reach a broader audience and provides a more comprehensive, and trustworthy, picture of your reputation.

Ultimately, the importance of Google reviews should not overshadow the significance of reviews on other platforms. A holistic approach to managing guest reviews across all channels is key to building and maintaining a strong online reputation in the hospitality industry.

Also, remember to send your guests a private note and encourage them to send any suggestions or open a dialogue on things that maybe OK but didn’t quite meet their expectations privately by email.  This will give you perspectives you might not have considered and allow you to get ahead of possible negative reviews, using the feedback to make improvements to your offerings.

If you want to optimise your google reviews and capture more direct bookings through Google, email us at sales@TXA.com.au and we will show you how.