The Hotelier’s Complete Guide to Google Hotel Reviews
When travelers begin planning for a trip, they often start by consulting Google to find and compare relevant hotels. This is because Google hotel reviews offer a comprehensive overview of each hotel.
From the star rating and room availability to customer reviews and hotel details, Google has become the most popular hotel review platform.
In today’s in-depth guide, you’ll learn why Google is overtaking other popular review platforms and how reviews impact your hotel.
The Growth of Google Hotel Reviews
Back in 2018, Google redesigned its hotel search experience to allow users to more easily search for and filter hotels on their mobile and desktop devices.
In essence, the redesign made it possible to find hotel information within Google’s environment that rivals that of Booking.com and other online travel agencies (OTAs) or review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Hotels.com.
Google now has one of the most complete hotel shopping and booking systems available. Within Google’s hotel shopping ecosystem, you can find hotel reviews, price comparisons, photos, and hotel details.
In fact, Google has overtaken Booking.com as the hotel review aggregator with the highest number of reviews. This is because Google continues penetrating the travel booking process at every point.
Google’s sheer scale, paired with its native integration, can be cited as the reason for its success. Rather than visiting a third-party website to view reviews and hotel information, travelers can find everything they need right on Google.
Not only will travelers see hotel reviews that were left on Google, but they can also choose to see reviews from other sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor.
Google hotel reviews have rocketed to become the number one resource for travelers because of Google’s incredible user experience and accumulation of helpful information.
Create a Google Listing For Your Hotel
If you want to get your hotel on Google Search and Maps, you need to register for a Business Profile on Google.
There might already be a Google listing for your hotel, but you’ll need to make sure that you’re registered as the business owner.
Here’s how to claim your hotel on Google:
- Enter the name of your hotel in the Google Maps search bar
- Choose the correct business from the search results
- Select Claim this business and Manage now
- Choose your preferred verification option
When you add or claim your Business Profile on Google for the first time, you can verify it through text, phone, email or video. You may need to verify your hotel ownership with more than one method.
Once you verify your hotel, it may take up to a few weeks for your updated hotel info to show across Google.
Follow the steps on how to get started with a hotel Business Profile to learn more about claiming your hotel on Google.
How Google Hotel Reviews Affect the Hotel Industry
We live in a digital age, and the public has ample opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions about brands and products through online reviews. Understanding what drives engagement and how customers use reviews for their buying journey is crucial for making tech-savvy marketing decisions.
If your hotel isn’t leveraging reviews, you’re falling behind the competition and ignoring the most important opportunity to earn trust from prospective guests and encourage them to give you a try.
Google hotel reviews are a form of social proof that can significantly impact your hotel’s bottom line. There’s no denying the power of social proof. Consumers want to learn from other people’s experiences and ensure they can trust your hotel. People find reviews from their peers to be more trustworthy than anything your marketing department can put out.
Leveraging social proof keeps your hotel honest and authentic, qualities that help you stand out amongst the competition.
Social proof can:
- Build brand awareness
- Increase your credibility with potential customers
- Validate buying decisions
- Increase direct and group bookings
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty in the hotel industry. Unfortunately, confusion and uncertainty are part of the new normal for travelers.
Therefore, hotels need to rely on social proof to ease hesitations and concerns during these ambiguous times. Prospective guests will look for recent reviews and customer experiences to see how your hotel is functioning and get a sense of whether they’ll feel comfortable staying with you.
In addition to providing excellent social proof and increasing your hotel’s bottom line, reviews can improve your SEO (search engine optimization) and local search rankings.
This increase in visibility occurs because search engines don’t only listen to what you have to say about yourself. They also listen to what other people have to say about your hotel.
A high number of customer reviews can boost online visibility and show prospective customers how you measure up to your customer expectations.
According to TripAdvisor, 81% of travelers always or frequently read reviews before booking a place to stay. Furthermore, 79% of TripAdvisor users are more likely to book a hotel with a higher rating when picking between two identical properties.
Optimizing Your Hotel For Google Reviews
There are several ways you can optimize your Google Business Profile to provide better information about your hotel to prospective guests. So once you verify your Google Business Profile, take the next step by optimizing your listing.
By optimizing, we mean ramping up your Google Business Profile with compelling information in the form of descriptions, photos, videos, FAQs and Google hotel reviews.
First, it’s important to add a complete description of your hotel. You can use up to 750 characters in your Google hotel description. This description is usually displayed underneath or alongside the reviews on your hotel.
Add the description by clicking the Add description option on your homepage. You can also click on your Info tab on the right and look for the section where you can add the description.
We recommend you portray your hotel as genuinely and accurately as possible. Furthermore, make sure to avoid misspellings and incorrect grammar. It’s a good idea to get someone to proofread this for you and offer feedback.
Once you finish adding your description, you can further optimize your Google hotel listing by adding pictures and videos of your property. The videos and pictures you choose to add should be clear and well-focused.
You might want to hire a professional photographer to take photos for your profile, or use any high-quality ones that you already have on your website. Avoid over-editing or using outdated photos.
They should also showcase your hotel accurately so that customers can see what your hotel offers and what to expect before arriving. But the higher the quality of photos are, the more attractive they’ll be to a prospective guest.
Next, input your hotel’s:
- Phone number
- Hours of operation (typically 24/7 for hotels)
- Website URL
Then, you’ll want to use your Google Business Profile’s hotel attributes section to select the amenities and services offered at your property. You can also input amenities that are in your hotel rooms.
For example, you can select if your hotel has a kid’s club, a casino, daily housekeeping and so on. You can also state whether the amenities are complimentary, only offered on certain days, or are under renovation. This will help you reach customers who are searching for a specific type of accommodation.
Lastly, you’ll want to utilize Google’s Questions and Answers feature. This section is helpful because it lets you respond to questions from potential guests. Rather than responding with simple “yes” or “no” answers, we recommend leaving an informative and detailed response.
Remember to keep your hotel’s information updated so potential guests can find everything they need to know about your hotel before booking their stay.
Increase Your Hotel’s Google Review Score
Now that you understand the power and importance of Google hotel reviews, you should focus on increasing your hotel’s Google review score.
This process involves getting more hotel reviews from guests. The more reviews you have, the more credible you’ll appear. Having a lot of reviews also mitigates the impact of the occasional bad review (which are inevitable — despite your best efforts, you just can’t please everyone).
Before you start asking guests to leave reviews, make sure that you’re delivering an experience worth writing about. By treating every guest like a VIP, you’ll guarantee great reviews.
To solicit more reviews, we recommend creating guest review cards that you can hand out to happy guests at checkout. The guest review cards should offer step-by-step instructions on how to leave a review, or even a QR code linking directly to your profile to make it easy.
If you send automatic thank-you emails after guests check out, you can include a link to your Google review page in this message. It’s a great way to reach guests while their experience with your hotel is still fresh in their minds.
Follow the instructions here to create a link for customers to write a Google hotel review.
Responding to Google Reviews
Your goal as a hotelier should be to respond to all Google reviews you receive, positive or negative. This engagement helps to enhance customer trust and instills confidence in your guests that you’re here to listen and respond to their queries.
We recommend responding to reviews within 72 hours of the guest posting the review. After you claim your Google profile, you’ll get notified via email and notifications on your phone every time you receive a review. Don’t delay — respond right away so that you don’t forget.
When you reply to a Google hotel review, you post publicly as your business.
No matter what type of review you respond to, it’s important to:
- Be friendly and don’t get personal
- Keep it short and sweet
- Thank your reviewers
- Avoid coming across as insincere
How to Respond to Positive Google Hotel Reviews
Positive reviews should always be acknowledged. Sometimes, guests will leave a rating (1-5 stars) without a comment. In that case, just a simple and sincere thank you is in order.
If a guest leaves a more detailed review, you can respond to the specific points they made — for example, We’re so glad to hear that you found the beds comfortable and enjoyed the room decor.
Be genuine in your responses to positive reviews to show your appreciation for the time they took to leave a review. They’ll appreciate your response and have a higher chance of booking with your hotel again in the future.
It’s just the final cherry on top of a positive experience from start to finish!
How to Respond to Negative Google Hotel Reviews
When responding to negative reviews, it’s important to represent your hotel in a positive and composed manner. You should acknowledge the guest’s concerns and analyze what you can do to make it better.
Although you may feel pressured to tell your side of the story, especially if the guest’s complaint is unreasonable or inaccurate, avoid being defensive. This will just create more of a problem when prospective guests read the review and your response. Think of it this way — you’re not really responding to the original reviewer, but to all those who are considering booking your hotel in the future.
Keep these tips in mind when responding to negative Google reviews:
- Address the guest by name to personalize the response
- Thank the guest for their feedback and let them know their voice has been heard
- Never attack the reviewer personally or share their personal data
- Be honest and acknowledge any mistakes that were made (but it’s okay to politely point out circumstances that were out of your control)
- Apologize if appropriate
- If there are some positive notes, address those first, and then approach the negative ones
- Acknowledge their frustrations with understanding and empathy
- Sign off with your name to show you’re a real person
Hotel Photos on Google Reviews
While you can add your own photos to your profile, guests can also leave photos they’ve taken to share visual details of their experience.
The photos section on your Google profile has different areas for the hotel bedrooms, bathrooms, exterior, interior, amenities, and food and drink. Users can also sort photos from visitors or pictures posted by the hotel itself.
Hotel photos can help guests find you on Google Maps. These photos can also display an impressive lobby, room choices and common areas, enticing future guests.
Your hotel photos also showcase how clean your hotel is and what type of views you offer in your upper-level rooms.
A bad photo can impact your hotel the same way as a negative review. For example, if a guest posts a picture of a bug they found in your hotel room, this may deter future guests from staying with your hotel.
For this reason, keeping your hotel as clean and polished as possible is essential. This way, you can prevent users from posting negative photos about your hotel.
Even well-intentioned photos can leave a poor impression if they’re low quality pictures (it can be tough to capture interior lighting and colors in an aesthetically pleasing way). That’s why it’s important to never just rely on guest photos, and supplement your profile with your own photography.
Google can be your best friend or your most ruthless foe depending on how it represents your hotel. By understanding the platform and fully optimizing your profile — while also ensuring that your guest experience is on point — you can use it to your benefit and attract new guests.
So keep your rooms and front desk tidy, treat your patrons well, and request guest feedback as they leave. If you can use Google to your advantage, you’ve already got an edge on some of your competition.
Also, remember that you’ll primarily reach tourists and other people traveling for leisure or personal purposes on Google. It’s important to also cater to other groups, like business travelers. Platforms like Hotel Engine can help connect you directly with this lucrative market.
When you’ve got Google bringing in vacationers and Hotel Engine balancing out your occupancy with corporate travelers, vacancy will become a problem of the past. Get started with Hotel Engine now!
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.