Did you know that 78% of people who stay with you would leave reviews if you asked them?
Raise your hand if you don’t ask your guests to leave a review after they leave! If your hand is up, then you need to read on.
I recently got to know Julie Gibson from Flowe Media through a local networking group. Julie and her team have created some essential tools that help automate marketing emails, reviews and social media marketing processes for hospitality owners.
As we all know, time is our greatest opponent in the hospitality industry. When I discover tools that can automate some of my vacation rental marketing work and save me hours of time in my busy week, I want to shout about it. That's why I'm excited about Flowe.
I sat down with Julie and asked her many questions about her experiences working with hospitality owners over the years and how Flowe Media is helping the independent guesthouses and hotels of the UK to rely less on online travel agents.
Boostly: Tell me about the history of Flowe Media.
Flowe Media is run by myself and Jon. We are a UK-based business whose core mission is to help local businesses grow by providing easy-to-use tools to increase bookings regardless of the business's field. We work with carpet fitters, engineers, roofing specialists, restaurant owners, and hospitality owners. You name it, we can help boost their business.
Flowe Media's model is organized into four different sections:
For hospitality owners, the section that has had the most impact has been Review Flowe.
We all know how important reviews are in the hospitality industry, and yet most vacation rental owners don’t have a system in place to enable them to increase the number of reviews that they receive. We wanted to create a quick and easy-to-use online system, ideally using Google and Facebook to get reviews. That’s how Review Flowe was born.
The system is effective, easy to use, and takes no time. Our clients find it easy to build their reputation outside the big online travel agents, allowing them to create more direct bookings.
Boostly: From your experience, what is the one mistake that people in the travel industry make when it comes to customer service? How do you think Review Flowe can help to fix it?
The biggest mistake a hotel can make is not asking for reviews! In the past, the biggest problem in the travel industry has been that owners haven’t felt confident or just haven’t had the time to contact guests to ask them to leave online feedback.
That is why we created a tool that simplifies the whole process. Review Flowe automates the process of getting reviews. All the hospitality owner has to do is give us the guest’s details, and we do the rest of the work.
Boostly: That sounds amazing! How many hospitality businesses currently use Review Flowe in the UK?
We cater to many local businesses, and hospitality is one of our newest industries. Right now, we have 26 hospitality businesses using Review Flowe, and that number is growing daily. The results have been excellent.
Boostly: In your opinion, what is the best way to respond to a negative review?
No matter how good we are, we all make mistakes; of course, not all of them are our fault!
Review Flowe has a built-in process for catching negative reviews before they are published on the big review sites. This helps a great deal as you can try to put things right in private first.
If a customer posts directly online, you must remember that your response is also public for all to see. We suggest you acknowledge the issue immediately, apologise that you didn’t meet their requirements, and ask them to contact you. It’s usually best to post the contact information for a manager or an owner.
If the unsatisfied customer doesn’t reply within 24 hours, then get on the phone and try to sort the issue out.
Remember, to combat one bad review, you need 10 great ones, so getting to a point where the guest is happy is really important. After you’ve resolved the issues, ask them if they’d like to remove the bad review, amend it, or add a new review.
If you want to get deeper into customer service and find out how to use unhappy guests to build growth in your business, this video by Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters, has everything that you need.
Boostly: What is the biggest misconception about the service that you provide?
That we’re web designers! Not that we’ve got anything against them – we all need a great website. But there’s so much more to making the Internet work for you than quickly throwing up a homepage that looks good but does little else.
We’re committed to helping business owners in four different areas of focus. We are also committed in providing all the expertise and tools to attend to those areas properly. In fact, we’ve created a whole system around them called the R4 Marketing System. Here's how that looks:
- Build your Reputation – The better your reputation is, the easier and less expensive it is to attract new guests
- Increase your Reach – Once your reputation is great, it’s time to reach out to more people
- Resell to them – You’ve spent all that money to get them. Now it’s time to increase the value of each customer
- Ask for Referrals – The easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to grow a business.
If you can implement a system like this, your business will grow.
Boostly: What is the one piece of advice that you would pass on to a small, independent hospitality owner in the UK?
I think the most important piece of advice I could give any business owner, not just in hospitality but across the business community, would be to build and maintain a customer and potential customer list in digital format. Why digital? For the simple reason that email is fast and efficient and can be measured and tweaked in an instant. Without a list, you have a harder job. Every day, you'll have to get up and start looking for new customers all over again.
With a well-managed digital list, you’re creating massive value for yourself and a potential purchaser when it comes to time to sell. If you do a really good job with your list, you’ll soon find that you can increase prices, book your rooms out further in advance, and start to pick and choose your guests.
How do I know this? Because we have clients who have already accomplished this in under one year.
Boostly: What would it be if you could change one thing about the vacation rental industry?
We'd like to see a way for hospitality businesses to grow without relying so heavily on big online travel agents. We’re getting closer to achieving this goal with the systems and tools we’re putting in place.
Boostly: Finally, how can people get in touch with you?
You can call me on 01723 585058 or 07753 466980 for a free 20-minute strategy session. We’ll take a look at your website. Then we will give you some ideas you can implement immediately to get more direct bookings. If you prefer to email, I'm available at [email protected], or you can visit our website at flowemedia.com, where you can find out more about the other tools Flowe Media has to offer.
If you would like to follow Flowe on Twitter, head to @FloweMedia.