The Hospitality Industry Guide To Managing Online Customer Reviews

Since opening in 2012, Ballston's A-Town Bar & Grill has been the area's go-to spot for happy hour, game watches, and scandalously fun Sunday Funday brunch bashes. Their reputation for throwing over-the-top parties (for the most part) isn't exaggerated, leaving them open to mixed reviews – some of which are blunt, rude and downright negative. One could never mistake management, specifically owner Scott Parker, for not caring or taking action. This is evident throughout his determined dedication to managing the venue's Yelp Business Page and responding to virtually every customer along the way. While there are several things that make A-Town Bar & Grill (as well as his many other venues and concepts) successful, in terms of brand strategy, this is undoubtedly one of the most effective pieces of the marketing puzzle.

I admit, Yelp has gotten a really bad reputation over the years which is largely attributed to the high volume of fake reviews and substandard oversight of webmasters to curtail that behavior. No matter how annoying the review platform may be, there is no denying that its results still reign supreme throughout the search engines and therefore requires significant attention – especially for restaurant, bar and hospitality marketing.

For those of you scratching your heads and wondering "Where the hell do I begin?" – fear not! The District Maven marketing team is here to save the day with the ultimate guide to tackling online customer ratings for hospitality owners. With Scott Parker's Yelp activity serving as a supporting example, here are some SEO tips and tricks that will help your brand dominate the digital review game in no time!
Since opening in 2012, Ballston's A-Town Bar & Grill has been the area's go-to spot for happy hour, game watches, and scandalously fun Sunday Funday brunch bashes. Their reputation for throwing over-the-top parties (for the most part) isn't exaggerated, leaving them open to mixed reviews – some of which are blunt, rude and downright negative. One could never mistake management, specifically owner Scott Parker, for not caring or taking action. This is evident throughout his determined dedication to managing the venue's Yelp Business Page and responding to virtually every customer along the way. While there are several things that make A-Town Bar & Grill (as well as his many other venues and concepts) successful, in terms of brand strategy, this is undoubtedly one of the most effective pieces of the marketing puzzle.

I admit, Yelp has gotten a really bad reputation over the years which is largely attributed to the high volume of fake reviews and substandard oversight of webmasters to curtail that behavior. No matter how annoying the review platform may be, there is no denying that its results still reign supreme throughout the search engines and therefore requires significant attention – especially for restaurant, bar and hospitality marketing.

For those of you scratching your heads and wondering "Where the hell do I begin?" – fear not! The District Maven marketing team is here to save the day with the ultimate guide to tackling online customer ratings for hospitality owners. With Scott Parker's Yelp activity serving as a supporting example, here are some SEO tips and tricks that will help your brand dominate the digital review game in no time!

Pro Tip Example: Scott Parker, A-Town Bar & Grill and The Bitch That Is Yelp

When it comes to optimizing for the search engines, every business will utilize slightly different methods depending on their unique needs. But for the restaurant and hospitality owner, it seems like every technique must be taken into account while implementing SEO strategy, and with good reason. When people search the Internet they are looking to do something -- roughly 80% of these individuals are doing research, whereas the remaining 20% are looking to make a purchase decision (almost always after doing research of some kind).

While you can find an endless amount of information listed throughout Google's search engine results pages, in the hospitality industry, only three things really matter: your website, social media profiles and online brand reputation. The last on that list may be the most important factor, as it is the customer review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp and TripAdvisor that will make the biggest impact on the purchase decision-making process.

Of course, it goes without saying that maintaining updated business listing citations on major review sites is important to local digital marketing. However, it is the diligent and thoughtful management of customer reviews that truly matters – with human visitors and search engines alike. Yes, I get that keeping up with what seems like an endless stream of negative comments is daunting, let alone responding to any of them, but it is absolutely required for any hospitality professional, restaurant or bar owner.
When it comes to optimizing for the search engines, every business will utilize slightly different methods depending on their unique needs. But for the restaurant and hospitality owner, it seems like every technique must be taken into account while implementing SEO strategy, and with good reason. When people search the Internet they are looking to do something -- roughly 80% of these individuals are doing research, whereas the remaining 20% are looking to make a purchase decision (almost always after doing research of some kind).

While you can find an endless amount of information listed throughout Google's search engine results pages, in the hospitality industry, only three things really matter: your website, social media profiles and online brand reputation. The last on that list may be the most important factor, as it is the customer review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp and TripAdvisor that will make the biggest impact on the purchase decision-making process.

Of course, it goes without saying that maintaining updated business listing citations on major review sites is important to local digital marketing. However, it is the diligent and thoughtful management of customer reviews that truly matters – with human visitors and search engines alike. Yes, I get that keeping up with what seems like an endless stream of negative comments is daunting, let alone responding to any of them, but it is absolutely required for any hospitality professional, restaurant or bar owner.

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For over a decade, District Maven has worked with businesses across the country to establish a formidable and profitable brand online. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Regardless of the industry or client, trust, respect and integrity are at the heart of every relationship we maintain -- and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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