‘Respond to reviews every time’, Hays IG members urged

Business owners in Hays Independence Group have been urged to respond to all reviews online – positive or negative – to help encourage more bookings.

Natalie Heatlie, Hays Travel’s social media manager, told delegates at the group’s annual conference in the Algarve that reviews and ratings are a “prominent component” of the decision-making process.

She also offered delegates tips about making the most of user-generated content, social engagement and media mentions and awards.

“Unbiased messaging from other audiences means customers are more likely to buy,” she told the conference at Epic Sana Hotel Algarve.

“People will leave reviews whether you want them or not,” she said, pointing to options such as Google Reviews, Facebook, Trustpilot Feefo for consumers, and Indeed and Glassdoor for employees.

“Take time to respond to positive and negative comments,” she advised.

“A happy customer is one of the most effective marketing tools.”

She urged members to embed reviews into their marketing as they are “relatable and sincere”.

Members using reviews well include CruiseNation, which embeds feedback from Feefo on its website, while Purple Travel mentions reviews in its emails, she said.

User-generated content provides “credibility” for your marketing, she said, adding: “We have such an opportunity in travel to embrace content from our users.”

Meanwhile, engaging with consumers on social media can save businesses “money and effort” in marketing.

Heatlie also showed how mentions in the trade and consumer media, plus awards, can show a brand is “trustworthy”.

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