reviews-pro-lodging-article-header
Matt Heffner

Matt Heffner

How Glen Cove Inn & Suites Generated 967 Reviews in One Year, Uses Their Reputation to Grow, and Dominates TripAdvisor

Table of Contents

Only open seven months out of the year (mid-April to mid-October), how did a small roadside motel in mid-coast Maine generate over 967 reviews in one year and dominate TripAdvisor in an overly saturated market?

It starts with service: their service to guests followed by a reputation management plan.

Glen Cove Inn & Suites is an upgraded traditional roadside motel in Rockport, ME, and serves a unique population of mid-coast Maine travelers. Glen Cove relies on the many festivals and local tourist attractions during the spring, summer, and early fall months to bring people to the area.

Searching TripAdvisor for lodging in Mid Coast Maine, there are over 275 results for this relatively small area. How did Glen Cove Inn & Suites – a small, seasonal inn – make it to the first page of the search results?

Quality reviews of their incredible service.

→ Get our 19 Point Checklist to Capture, Manage, and Promote Your Property’s Feedback & Reviews. Stop collecting a few reviews on TripAdvisor and start using your guest’s feedback & reviews as a true business asset. Sign Up Here.

Why Reviews Matter

There are three types of potential customers for your lodging business:

  1. Past Guests
  2. Those Influenced by Past Guests Through Reviews
  3. Those searching to stay in your area

3 Best Customer Groups Graphic

While each customer plays a role in the overall success of your business, today we’ll be talking about the second group of customers – those who are influenced by past guests through reviews.

Online reviews have become the “word of mouth” for the 21st century. There is absolutely no doubt that what people say about you (or don’t say) online can make or break your business:

  • 85% of people trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 93% read online reviews about a local business
  • 97% of people search for local businesses online
    (Source: BrightLocal Annual Reviews Study)

What people say about you (or don’t say) online can make or break your business.

A 2018 article on Inc.com stated that someone who had a negative experience is highly likely to leave a negative review, whereas only one in ten individuals who had a positive experience goes out of their way to leave a positive review. It’s not because they didn’t have a great experience, but it just doesn’t occur to them to share that experience with the world.

What your online reviews say about your boutique lodging property will significantly determine your ability to bring in new guests.

That’s why it’s important to ASK for direct feedback and reviews from your guests. If they had a great experience at your lodging property, they’ll likely be more than happy to share any constructive feedback and leave you a positive review… but you have to ask.

Guests who had a great experience are likely to be more than happy to share positive feedback if you ask them!

Not every guest is Taylor Doose (ala Gilmore Girls) – you will have to ask for feedback and testimonials. BrightLocal reports that 71% of individuals who have a positive experience and are asked to do so will leave a positive review.


via GIPHY

Establishing credibility through testimonials is a key way to draw in new guests who have not previously heard of your boutique lodging property, and getting direct feedback from past guests allows you to know where you need to improve your business.

What your online reviews say about your boutique lodging property will significantly determine your ability to bring in new guests.

Glen Cove saw the potential of making their reviews work for them in their tourist-driven area and decided to pursue their guests’ reviews. Knowing that they are at their best as innkeepers when they are focusing on the guest experience and doing what they do best, they entrusted a completely done-for-you review process to Red Oak Local to contact recent past guests for feedback, follow up, and use of those awesome reviews throughout their marketing.

Location of Reviews Matters

There are a lot of places where people can leave reviews online… from search engines to OTAs to travel websites to social media, and everything in between. You can get dizzy chasing all the reviews down!

In the world of local lodging properties, there are three review sites that you don’t want to overlook:

  • Your Website
  • Google
  • TripAdvisor

Review sources screenshots for Glen Cove Inn & Suites

1st Party Reviews are reviews that come directly to you. It is similar to the importance of people booking directly on your website – they will also have the best experience working directly with you. Likewise, in asking for a 1st party review, you are giving them a chance to give you feedback first. This invites them to be a part of the conversation, will show you areas you can improve, and will give people time to reflect on their experience. All of this before handing those reviews off to a 3rd Party. Because, yes, after you have your guests’ direct feedback, you do want to ask them to put it on some of these other places, too.

3rd Party reviews are located on TripAdvisor, Google, and other places throughout the internet. They choose how to organize the reviews, what to show, and when. These reviews are valuable, of course, because they show up in different places, draw people’s attention, and can compare and contrast similar businesses in one place.

Some 3rd party sites have a “pay to play” feature which means their system for showing positive reviews is impacted not only by your ad spend with them, but also that consistent ad spend over time, as well as your competitors’. This system is considered proprietary and is not shown to you or to the people searching for the reviews. Also some systems require a log-in to see longer and more in-depth reviews. These are often your best reviews and by having them come to you first, you can use them in many ways without requiring a login for someone to see them.

According to BrightLocal, 32% of people will visit a business’ website after finding positive 3rd party reviews (such as Google or TripAdvisor), and 28% will search for additional reviews to validate their findings. This is a major reason why it’s so important to have both 1st party and 3rd party reviews.

Side note: 92% of consumers will look at a business’ website before making a decision to make a purchase. If you need help with your website, check out our lodging services page to learn more about our website design and management services.

While Glen Cove knew the importance of generating additional reviews on TripAdvisor, they also realized that they needed to grow their reputation on Google and make good use of their website. They employed our three-step Lodging Reviews Pro service to grow all areas of their online reputation, helping them to top the search results across the board.

→ Get our 19 Point Checklist to Capture, Manage, and Promote Your Property’s Feedback & Reviews. Stop collecting a few reviews on TripAdvisor and start using your guest’s feedback & reviews as a true business asset. Sign Up Here.

Quality of Reviews Matter

Not only is it important to have good online reviews for your property, but the quality of reviews matters.

Let’s say Mr. & Mrs. Smith are coming into town for a wedding and need a place to stay. They’re unfamiliar with the area so they do an online search with three simple criteria: queen bed, free breakfast, and pool.

One of three scenarios could happen…

Scenario 1: An ad pops up at the top of the search results, and it entices Mr. & Mrs. Smith to learn more about your property. They do a search for your location on TripAdvisor and Google to read about others’ experiences, but most of the reviews they find are brief, generic, and not recent. Your website doesn’t have any reviews on it, and they quickly move on to find a more relevant hotel for their trip.

Scenario 2: If you’ve been focused on getting traditional reviews, Mr. & Mrs. Smith see your boutique lodging property in a list with a dozen or so other lodging options, and they see you have hundreds of 4-star reviews on TripAdvisor with little to no comments. Most of the reviews are several years old, and a quick search on Google reveals no or few recent reviews. They keep you on a shortlist of potential places to stay, and they may or not may book a room after comparing you to other local properties.

Scenario 3: However, if you’ve been focused on acquiring feedback plus reviews from past guests, Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s search will reveal your boutique lodging property has hundreds of reviews with an average 4.7-star rating and super detailed comments about what it’s like to stay with you, the amenities you offer, details about breakfast, your check-in and check-out process, the atmosphere and unique qualities of your boutique lodging property, etc. Whether they’re on TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, or even your own website, the reviews they see are from raving, recent fans who LOVE your property. It’s easy for them to decide that your property must be the best in the area. They eagerly book a room and have entered into the unique guest experience you provide from day one.

Good Review vs Great Review - Lodging Reviews Pro

Just as the details you put into each guest’s stay at your boutique lodging property are what sets you apart from the other lodging options in your area, the detailed reviews guests leave online are what will set your boutique lodging property apart in its virtual neighborhood.

Using the Lodging Reviews Pro service from Red Oak Local, Glen Cove Inn & Suites was able to reach out to past guests, asking for feedback and then following up with a request for a review.

Just as the details you put into each guest’s stay at your boutique lodging property are what sets you apart from the other lodging options in your area, the detailed reviews guests leave online are what will set your boutique lodging property apart in its virtual neighborhood.

Typical Approach Versus Red Oak Local Approach

Most innkeepers know they need reviews in order to attract new guests. The problem they face, however, is getting quality reviews on a consistent on-going basis.

They ask a guest to leave a review during the check-out process. They might get a few generic reviews. They move on to the next guest. They know this isn’t effective, but they don’t know how better to approach it without seeming pushy or needy.

This is not how Glen Cove approaches reviews. Instead, they partner with Red Oak Local (hey, that’s us!) to manage their online reputation, and we implement our Lodging Reviews Pro service on their behalf.

We start by asking their past guests for feedback about their experience, and then we asked them to share a review on a specific website (i.e. TripAdvisor) to help others have a similarly great experience.

And we don’t just ask once. We follow up with guests multiple times, knowing that guests are busy and get distracted.

Because Glen Cove has built a relationship with these guests, we are able to contact & remind them in multiple ways over the course of several weeks without coming across as pushy or needy, making the feedback and review process about the guest instead of making it about Glen Cove.

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Glen Cove Reviews Generated By Year

Not only does this method generate quality reviews for their online reputation, but it provides great feedback for the boutique lodging property, highlighting things they are doing well and areas where they can improve the guest experience and satisfaction.

How to Use Reviews

You’ve figured out how to get great reviews from past guests, but now what? What are you supposed to do with those reviews?

Respond to Reviews

You’ve asked your guests to leave you a review, and they did. Now it’s time to acknowledge that review with a thoughtful response. This not only shows potential guests who are being influenced by those reviews that you are an attentive innkeeper, but it keeps the lines of communication open with your past guests, continuing that relationship of trust.

Sometimes you’ll get a review that isn’t positive. Maybe a guest has a valid concern that needs to be addressed. Maybe a guest just didn’t have a great experience. Maybe a guest just has a bone to pick or can not be pleased. Regardless of the reason for the negative review, you must respond in a way that shows hospitality and understanding. Never debate a guest through an online, public forum.

Put Reviews to Work

Just as each of your employees has a job, your reviews should be given a specific role to play in the success of your business. Don’t let them gather dust like a trophy case.

Reviews are a great tool to use in your marketing and communication with past and future guests. Share great reviews on your social media platforms, in your communication with past guests, and on your website.

→ Get our 19 Point Checklist to Capture, Manage, and Promote Your Property’s Feedback & Reviews. Stop collecting a few reviews on TripAdvisor and start using your guest’s feedback & reviews as a true business asset. Sign Up Here.

Email Marketing

Sharing a recent review in your email marketing is a great way to remind past guests of how much they loved staying with you as well as encourage potential guests to take the plunge and make a reservation at your boutique lodging property. Glen Cove does a great job of using recent reviews as an addition to their great content and sales emails each month.

feature review email newsletter example glen cove

Social Media

Turn a great review into a social media post. You can post the review word-for-word, with or without a link to the review itself. Adding a graphic using part of the review (either a screenshot or a simple quote graphic) can add share-ability. And don’t forget to include an “ask” for others to share their great reviews/feedback with you!

using reviews on social media

Website Pop-Up

Remember when we told you that 32% of people will visit your website when making a decision about whether or not to book a room at your boutique lodging property. Why not use a recent review to confirm that you’re the best choice for their upcoming stay with a website pop-up?

example of website pop-up for feature recent reviews in boutique lodging property marketing

Website Review Stream

Use your website to showcase your best 3rd party reviews with a review stream. Have a single page on your website dedicated to housing your boutique lodging property’s most recent 4- and 5-star reviews. Glen Cove does this well, providing a link to their review page in their site menu as well as throughout their website content.

host your best reviews on your website

Website Tag Stream

Do you have a specific feature of your boutique lodging property that people like to talk about in their reviews? Does your property specialize in a unique service or customize experience? Glen Cove Inn is known for its amazing breakfast, so they use a tag stream to highlight reviews that mention “breakfast” on their amenities page in the breakfast section.

use a tag stream to showcase featured reviews on a unique service you offer at your boutique lodging property

When You Don’t Have Enough Air to Toot Your Own Horn

We get it. You have enough on your plate with the day-to-day management of your lodging property, and you don’t have time to manage your online reputation or lose sleep over remembering to ask for, respond to, and properly utilize reviews.

As cheerleaders for small lodging properties, we want you to be able to stay focused on what matters most to you – taking care of your guests by providing exceptional service. Our full-service review management means you can focus on making your guests’ experience top-notch, and we’ll take care of getting their feedback and turning it into reviews that make you shine.

It’s what helped Glen Cove Inn & Suites in Rockport, Maine, go from being just another boutique lodging property on the coast of Maine to having one of the best online reputations of any property in all of mid-coast Maine.

We come alongside lodging properties like yours to free them up to focus on what they’re amazing at – crafting an exceptional guest experience.

Let us help you turn your property’s reputation into a clear competitive advantage this year:

  1. Request our free 19-Point Reviews Checklist. It’s a blueprint to stop collecting some reviews on TripAdvisor and start using your guest’s feedback & reviews as a true business asset.
  2. Request your free feedback & reviews audit here. We’ll grade your current efforts to capture, manage, and promote reviews for your property in a free report.

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