TripAdvisor. Love it or hate it, there it is, so use it to your advantage.
Even the negative reviews.
As travel site Leonardo notes, "As consumers move further down the purchase path, it’s important to provide social proof, [which is] independent third-party feedback that gives travel shoppers the boost of confidence they need to book your hotel."
The key to social proof is that it comes from someone else, so in addition to reviews, it can be ratings, awards, media coverage -- anything you didn't write yourself.
Are they important? Oh yeah. "Boston-based global research firm Forrester found that close to 50 percent of consumers won’t book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews," Travel & Leisure noted. "Travel-research firm Phocuswright similarly reported last July that people who read online hotel reviews are 59 percent more likely to book."
Two strategies seem to work here:
First, provide a prominent place on your site for guests to post their reviews. Do not offer incentives for reviews, nobody trusts those. Let it be known that no incentives were offered.
And don't censor these. If someone writes "This is a terrible hotel," allow them to say that, and write a reply explaining to readers that you took this guest's complaints seriously and you have taken steps to fix things.
Secondly, many hotels have TripAdvisor reviews piped directly to their site, the five most recent reviews no matter what they say. Again, let the good ones stand as is, and if there are negative ones, thank the guests for taking the time to share their experience, and explain what you've done to step up your game.
Guests know no hotel is perfect, they don't expect that. But they do expect you to strive towards that. And allowing negative reviews to publicly show how you're striving to do that is a powerful way to turn them to your advantage.