How to Leverage Yelp Effectively to Maximize Direct Bookings

By. Melody Ciria 19th Oct 2014

It comes as no surprise that for many businesses, Yelp has become one of the leading referral sources generating the most traffic to your business’ website. There are over 138 million monthly visits to Yelp worldwide and 500,000 reported calls everyday. These statistics goes to show how powerful Yelp can be for a business, big or small in generating a sale or/and lead. Although TripAdvisor is the top research source for travel-related searches, hoteliers cannot afford to miss out on the potential revenue Yelp can also generate for your hotel. With so many Yelpers worldwide, hotels need to utilize the features Yelp offers in order to drive traffic to website, increase conversions, and ultimately maximize direct bookings. Most hoteliers have the common misconception that Yelp is only a channel for restaurant goers, however, contrary to popular belief, a vast majority of the population is using Yelp during the travel research phase when looking for a hotel nearby. Keeping up with your Yelp listing is critical to your hotel’s reputation. So how can you start reaping the benefits of Yelp for your business? Here are five helpful tips hotels can use in their local marketing strategy to leverage Yelp effectively:

1.  Optimize Yelp Business Listing

Just like any other channel, it’s not enough to just have a stale business listing. As with any local listing platform make sure to fill out all the basic information including address, category, hours of operation, and business description. Ensure that the NAP (name, address, phone) citation is consistent with other local review sites that your hotel is listed on. Once you fill out the basics, optimize the about section of your listing. This is where you get a chance to talk about your hotel’s features and amenities. Update the “From the Business” section which enables you to share your hotel’s specialties and history. Before you begin writing this section, it is important to find out which relevant keywords are most often used to look for your hotel on Yelp as well as how you stack up against your direct competitors. To get a better idea of how much traction your business is getting through Yelp and where your visits are coming use the Yelp analytics tool.

2.  Upload Latest Photos

Yelp is and will continue to be a great influencer on a customer’s decision making process. Reviews and photos are highly influential especially when it comes to deciding which hotel to stay at. Although you can’t control what photos previous guests have shared about your hotel, you can control which photos you want potential guests to see. If you have recently made some major renovations to your hotel or even some soft remodels of your rooms, make sure you share them on Yelp. Upload the latest photos of your rooms and make it known to Yelpers that you have made improvements. Be descriptive when sharing these photos. Include a title tag with the photo to let Yelpers know when these recent remodels were implemented. Don’t let bad reviews with inaccurate photos from angry guests dictate your hotel’s reputation. Instead let users know you value their opinion and you’ve made the necessary adjustments.

3.  Promote Mobile Check-In Offers

Providing a mobile check-in offer isn’t just something restaurants can do, it’s also something hotels can do to encourage more direct bookings. Offering a check-in special would be a great way to also get some foot traffic to your hotel and/or your hotel’s restaurant. Approximately 50% of people are more likely to leave a review after redeeming a check-in offer. With that said, hotels can provide a mobile check-in offer tailored to their target market. For instance, if your main target market are business travelers than why not have a check-in offer in which they get free WiFi, free parking, free printing or something creative like a toiletry bag which contains ‘business meeting ready’ essentials including mints, lint roller, and a shoe shine sponge. A guest will most likely leave a positive review, assuming the guest has a positive experience with the check-in offer.

4.  Offer Gift Certificates

If offering a deal is more to your liking then provide a gift certificate that would give Yelpers a discount to a future stay at your hotel. If you choose to run a discount special like this, make sure it is for a room or suite you have trouble selling. Offering a gift certificate through Yelp would only cost 10% commission as opposed to the 20-25% commission you would have pay to an OTA. At the same time, this certificate would not only encourage more direct bookings but also help win back the guest relationship from the OTAs. Similar to pay-per-click advertising, the same practice goes for offering a discount special on Yelp. By that I mean, hotels should use this during need periods which include slow peak times.

5.  Respond to Reviews

With any review site, it is always highly encouraged that hotel management respond to reviews. When it comes to Yelp, there are avid Yelpers, known as elites which are users who leave the most reviews and stay active. Yelp highly regard reviews from elites, therefore it is important that hotels do not neglect responding to reviews that elites leave on your hotel’s listing. Also, it is important to respond to negative reviews to let the dissatisfied guest know that you value their review and that you will take the necessary measures to fix the issue at hand. When responding to reviews, make sure it is personalized and sincere. Appropriately display your position and name in the management response to make it more trustworthy to Yelpers.

Incorporate these five tips in your local marketing strategy and track the ROI generated from Yelp. Use Yelp analytics tool to monitor how many calls you are getting off  your listing.  Remember, when utilized correctly, Yelp can generate a great deal of business for your hotel so take advantage of its features.

About Melody Ciria

Melody Ciria is an SEO Specialist for E-Marketing Associates. She plays an integral role on all aspects of digital marketing ranging from PPC, SEO, Social Media and analytics. Melody has over 15 years experience in digital marketing, her goal is to apply her background in psychology to develop strategic campaigns that will push the limits of the

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