If you’re in hotel management, you’re on the hook for every dollar, every interaction, both good and bad. The bottom-line rests on you and your reputation as a clean and friendly establishment. There’s a reason people rely on Yelp! and TripAdvisor: they’re trusted places where people can leave honest feedback about their experiences.
TripAdvisor released data recently stating that reviews matter, that 96% of their users read reviews and make choices based on that data. A massive 83% will book according to how those reviews cite the business, favorably or not.
Yelp! on the other hand, is more of an opinion-based platform based on nuance over tangible experience. Traveler behavior is becoming a significant segment of data to parse thanks to people sharing their experiences. People trust other people’s opinions simply because it’s honest and not a sponsored play for more dollars. That’s why feedback and review sites thrive, they directly impact business, and smart hotel managers know that their online reputation is everything.
Ask yourself an honest question: would you book a hotel room with a place that has zero or negative reviews? Probably not. Chances are, you probably look at least six or seven different hotels before committing to any. With HomeAway and Airbnb getting more popular by the day, every guest interaction matters because otherwise, that’s money left on the table.
What should a manager do?
The very essence of a hotel is simple: the guest is literally at their most vulnerable when they’re a guest of the hotel: they’re typically in an unfamiliar environment (the city they’re visiting), in the shower, or asleep. All these factors preclude the need to provide a clean and safe space entirely built around comfort and trust.
Hotels have a lot to gain from soliciting positive reviews from guests. If your staff is killing it and a guest had a great experience, ask them to leave a positive review of their experience.
After a guest has checked out, send them a guest satisfaction survey, which often feeds information into sites like TripAdvisor. If the good reviews stack up, then that’s a big help for the consistency of bookings across the board. Make it easy for customers who’ve had a positive experience to leave their feedback. Aside from the email, send a newsletter to keep everything top of mind, and even put links on the site. Also, don’t forget Google reviews are also gaining popularity, too.
If someone does leave a bad review, it’s essential to embrace the feedback as a teachable moment. Can you offer a thoughtful response? If you can craft a message that shows you’re vested and care about the customer’s experience, that goes a long way. Every company isn’t Disney World and can’t bend over backward to please guests, but acknowledging an issue can go a long way.
One thing to keep in mind about bad reviews is to respond with a thought out answer that isn’t based on personal emotion. Admit the mistake, or at least try to find a solution. Analyze and understand the complaint and perspective before responding. If dealt with correctly, even the bad can be turned into a positive. Just don’t take forever to comment, perception is everything. If you let a complaint dangle for weeks, it’ll come off like you don’t care.
If there’s truth to a complaint, use it to seek improvement. By listening to guests, there can be things overlooked that can be improved upon because no one had thought about them.
Another layer of the hotel-flavored burrito is the Global Review Index (GRI) and the Management Response Rate (the percentage of online reviews a hotel responds to.) The higher the response rate, the higher the trustability factor, which means more rooms sold.
And if you need to dangle the carrot of 20% off a future booking or some kind of perk for a positive review, that’s ok. Every positive review will only make more guests want to see what all the fuss is about.
There’s a lot to consider when dealing with customer reviews, but at the end of the day, they matter and can affect the bottom line of how many guests come through. But, by taking the time to invest in cultivating a positive culture surrounding your hotel, it will only count as continued winning. And in the hotel business, every win counts to keep those rooms full.
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