Positive word of mouth has always been invaluable for business. Now with reviews and testimonials so readily available online, it’s hard to find a consumer that doesn’t read a few before making a purchase.
People are heavily influenced by the experiences of others; those experiences help validate our own purchasing decisions. (You don’t have to learn the hard way if someone else already did.) This concept of informational social influence is also referred to as social proof.
From expert endorsements to user reviews to recommendations from friends, there are many different kinds of social proof. Just as the internet has made social proof more accessible to consumers, so it has made social proof easier for businesses to leverage as a powerful marketing tool. Note: Google isn’t immune to social proof either, so including it on your website can significantly boost your SEO.
Without further ado, let’s look at the different forms of social proof you can add to your hotel’s website to increase conversions.
User reviews are one of the most influential kinds of social proof and are therefore important for your website. Eighty-one percent of vacationers “always” or “often” look at reviews before choosing accommodation.
Including a dedicated “reviews” page via your site’s main menu makes locating them easy, but you can also (or alternatively) highlight handpicked testimonials on your homepage and throughout your site. That way, guests won’t have to leave your website to find reviews and be assured of your credibility.
A widget or plugin that rotates through a review selection is simple to embed on your website. WordPress offers numerous plugins for displaying review widgets, whether reviews are handpicked by you or come from the likes of Google, Booking.com, or Tripadvisor.
However, you don’t want to draw attention to a lack of reviews, or worse, a bunch of bad reviews. If your reviews look a bit shabby, do some work to improve numbers and content before showcasing them.
The best way to fix a lack of reviews is to ask. With automated emails or SMS messaging, you can easily send every guest a post-stay feedback request. Direct guests to your preferred review sites in your email and SMS communications and on signage around your property, so they know where to go. (The internet is a broad destination…The easier and clearer you make it, the more likely you’ll receive a review).
Social Media Plugins
If your business successfully engages customers on social media, flaunt your social prowess and positive user-generated content on your website. Social media and social proof go hand in hand. Hundreds of Facebook fans can’t be wrong!
Plugins that display follower counts are usually combined with a “follow” or “like” button that allows your website visitors to click and follow you on social media without having to leave your site. Examples include the Facebook Page Plugin and the Twitter Follow Button. From “follow” and “like” buttons to single post embeds to feeds from your timeline, there are a variety of social media plugins available, so pick the ones that work best for you.
Embedding an Instagram feed on your website is an especially relevant and eye-catching way to showcase your property and provide social proof to your customers. Feeds can be customized to include user-generated content by creating a hashtag feed or displaying posts other people have tagged your property in.
Businesses that don’t yet have many followers on social media can still embed simple social media icons (without follower counts) into their website, usually displayed in the page header or footer. This makes visitors aware of your social media presence and demonstrates transparency, which builds trust.
While customer reviews and social media plugins play a big role in boosting confidence, recognized trust symbols are also key to reassuring website visitors. If your property can boast professional affiliations and certifications that demonstrate you take your business seriously—such as eco-friendly certification, lodging association membership, or a great Tripadvisor rating—show these qualifications on your website.
Hint: Not all eco-friendly certifications are created equal, and customers are becoming increasingly aware of greenwashing.
Last but not least, your online booking engine should verify that the payment process is secure by displaying a valid SSL certificate (https) and secure payment badge.
Positive media coverage is a form of expert social proof. Whether a travel blogger has recommended you, or your property has been featured in a travel magazine, prospective customers take note. Press releases you’ve issued and case studies by technology partners featuring your business are other examples of expert proof.
Some companies link to media reviews and articles from a dedicated press page on their website; others highlight positive media mentions on their blog. Another simple way to present this kind of proof is to pull the best quotes and display them on your homepage over your hero image.
For 78 percent of vacationers, photos are the key influence when selecting a hotel. Showcase professionally taken photos (now is not the time for selfies!) of guests enjoying themselves at your property (you will need to get their permission). People respond better to photos with a friendly face. When guests see photos of others having a fun time, they’ll believe that they will have fun too. A smile is also social proof!
Social proof turns browsers into buyers, so leverage its power by displaying it on your website. If your website isn’t bringing in enough bookings, it might be time for a redesign. Get in touch with our web design team for a free consultation and quote.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published October 2015 and last updated June 2023.