Tourism in Crete
As a digital marketing agency based in Rethymno, Crete, we are well aware of the specific challenges faced by the businesses here who work in the service industry. Tourism in Crete is worth billions of Euros every year, since well over a million tourists from all over the world flock to our wonderful island for their summer holidays.
Obviously, these holidaymakers require accommodation, food, drinks and entertainment and there is no shortage of businesses that are all fiercely competing for their custom. Did you know that in the city of Rethymno alone, there are over 400 accommodation options listed just on Tripadvisor? Or that there are a similar number of places to eat?
As a business owner hoping to get a slice of this action, you might be wondering: how do I make my business stand out online? In short,you need a carefully curated and maintained online presence to both attract new clients and develop a bond with your loyal, repeat customers. Let’s take a look at how this can be achieved.
The Importance of Reviews
Reviews online are effectively the digital version of ‘word-of-mouth’ and as such, are incredibly valuable. No matter how appealing you make your business look online or how well you sell yourself through clever advertising, people are going to trust others that visited your business more than you.
Let’s look at some statistics from the service industry to help exemplify this. Firstly, when it comes to accommodation, approximately 8 out of 10 people will choose a hotel that has the better review rating with everything else being equal. With restaurants, 92% of people read reviews, more than three quarters prefer user reviews vs. professional ones, and a third of people would never go to a restaurant that is ranked under four stars.
So as we can see, reviews are important – but how does digital marketing play a part here? Now obviously providing great service will result in your customers being happy and motivated to sing your praises, but where the strategy comes in is making it as easy as possible to leave a review and then making sure this review is clearly visible to others searching online.
Consider a restaurant that has zero online visibility. Customers will only come from either taking a chance and dropping in off the street, or through real world word-of-mouth, as somebody may have recommended the establishment. Say the service is very good and the customer leaves satisfied and has the idea to leave a review. If they can’t find the business on Google Maps, Facebook or Tripadvisor, then they’ll have to create an entry for this establishment themselves if they want to write a review. The hassle of this will certainly lower the number of people willing to leave feedback but it also means that the creation of a page or entry for this business is now out of their control. Customers frequently make mistakes in these entries; they might tag the wrong location, input incorrect business information or even get the name of the restaurant wrong. It’s not uncommon for some businesses to have multiple entries with incorrect data and this is far from ideal. Make sure you’re the one in control and that customers have a clearly defined place to leave you a review.
How to Handle Negative Reviews
It goes without saying that it’s impossible to please everyone and not every review your business gets is going to be a five star ringing endorsement of your service. However, with every crisis comes an opportunity.
The most important rule with negative reviews is to never leave them unanswered; not only is silence deafening but your response gives you the chance to tell your side of the story. By responding with either a sincere apology and/or a reasonable explanation, you can show a willingness to improve, a dedication to high standards and a likeable human side to your business.
Think of your responses as similar to posts on your social media profile. They’re public and tell the people reading them about your business. How you react can be the difference between a customer giving you the benefit of the doubt or siding with the client who complained. For this reason, many hotels, bars and restaurants hire a digital marketing agency to handle review responses on their behalf.
Finally, make sure that positive reviews also get a response. If people took the time to give you some good free PR, make sure they get the gratitude they deserve. A friendly note thanking a client can create a bond and make them a loyal, repeat customer, whereas ignoring them can have the opposite effect.
How to Make your Business Stand Out
Smart Social Media
Your social media accounts are a vital component of your online presence. Considering that 76% of people nowadays will check you out online before visiting your business in-person, you need to make sure that you’re in control of what they see and you’re sending the right message.
Regardless of whether you own a hotel, bar, restaurant or any sort of business, your focus when it comes to social media should be on creating and developing your brand identity. People should know exactly who you are, what you do and why they should choose you. This might sound a little basic, but it is so often overlooked, especially by businesses who are trying to handle it all in-house, as they rarely have the time or expertise to create and maintain an effective, consistent strategy.
If we take Instagram as an example, each profile should have a clear and consistent aesthetic that accurately reflects the business it represents. The images you upload should be high quality and particularly in the service industry, accurately convey the mood or style of your establishment. Consider why people visit restaurants; they generally want good food, great service and the right kind of atmosphere. All of these things can be shown through instagram in the form of reels, stories, photos, videos or images.
It’s no big secret that Google Ad campaigns are the fastest way to appear at the top of Google’s rankings. Anyone with a big enough budget can appear in those rankings, but the true test comes in learning how to maximise your return on advertising spend (ROAS). After all, your business will not last long if you have to spend $10 to only make $5 net.
The ideal scenario is an excellent click-through rate (CTR) on your ads that leads to a high number of conversions – in the service industry this could be indicated by a table being booked at your restaurant, a room being reserved in your hotel, or so on. However, one of the most important factors in getting a good return on investment (ROI) is having a low cost-per-click (CPC) on your ads; you want as many acquisitions or conversions as you can get for the least amount of money, in order to maximise your profits.
While anyone can start a Google Ads campaign, they can be fiddly and time-consuming to get right. Really, it makes sense for you to focus on your area of expertise, i.e. running your business, and employing a professional digital marketing agency to dedicate their time and knowledge to create and run these campaigns on your behalf. It takes a lot of time (and money) to learn how to analyse the data, identify the right audience/markets, select the correct keywords and phrases and choose the right times to run your campaigns.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Utilising SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a great and cost-effective way of improving your online visibility. Unlike Google Ads, a great benefit of SEO is that you do not need to pay to directly influence your place in the search rankings. But how does SEO work?
Google’s algorithm for its search engine is a constantly evolving, complex beast but Google’s overall mission is simple; they want to provide their users with the best match to each user’s particular search query.
If a user asks Google a question, it wants to provide them with the best answer, i.e. linking to a page that answers it as directly and well as possible. If a user asks for a recommendation, say ‘best restaurants near me’ it wants to provide a series of options that fit that description, i.e. using your location data combined with restaurant reviews nearby to curate a list for you to choose from.
If you operate a restaurant, you obviously want to be in that conversation. In order to show for that query, you need to make sure that you are clearly visible to Google and have great reviews. While your level of service and food play one important role, smart use of SEO plays the other and they are an important partnership. With a ‘best x near me’ query, what good is having great reviews if your location details are wrong or non-existent? The optimization here comes from attention to detail; with this sort of query you need to make sure that all the information about your establishment is correct and relevant.
Of course, this is just one small example of SEO. There are many others and many different ways for you to take advantage of in order to boost your business’ profile.
If you’re interested in growing your business or have any questions about how digital marketing can work for you, contact us today.