Imagine what would happen if a member of your staff blatantly ignored guests at the front desk who wanted to discuss their hotel stay. What if this employee promptly deleted emails with guest feedback or hung up on anyone who called in a complaint? You would probably fire them.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Micheal Innocentin, executive director of digital marketing for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, part of AccorHotels.
While they’re much more public, online reviews are simply another method of collecting feedback from hotel guests. So why do so many hotels handle reviews badly?
In my experience, the overwhelming majority of reviews tend to be positive; guests who have negative experiences are much more vocal, however. People between the ages of 36 and 50 — as well as individuals with an annual household income of more than $150,000 — are almost guaranteed to share stories of bad customer service, and guests of all demographics are more likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one.
Hotel executives cannot control what guests say online, but they should still encourage everyone to review their experiences. Hoteliers should treat these reviews as if the guests were standing at the front desk.
A bad review does not mean you have lost that customer forever or that you have done irreparable damage to your reputation.
In fact, 95% of customers are willing to give a hotel a second chance if management responds to their complaint in an appropriate and timely manner.
One of our guests was recently unsatisfied with her spa experience and left a mixed review online. After discovering the issue, one of our staff members was able to resolve the woman’s concerns and win back her favor. The guest was so pleased that she actually posted a new review with a high rating that acknowledged our “excellent customer service.”
This is one small example, but it demonstrates the significant opportunity hoteliers have to change a guest’s perception of their operation. In addition to altering attitudes, responding to online reviews can help increase revenue at hotels.
Reacting appropriately, responding to written reviews and committing to change across departments can help give your hotel a competitive advantage.
Making the most of online reviews
At this point, it should be clear that online reviews are not a nuisance. They contain useful feedback that management can leverage to improve hotels.
The issue becomes how to address concerns and implement insight without becoming overwhelmed by the amount of advice coming your way. Here are four strategies to help you master online reviews:
- Invest in an online reputation management tool
Time is precious, and staff resources are limited. Online reputation management (ORM) tools can save you time by closely monitoring review sites so you don’t have to. These tools can provide alerts when reviews mention specific topics, allowing you to closely monitor trends. You can also use them to send your guests surveys and review requests via emails or text messages, but be sure to consult your brand guidelines first.
- Compare your performance with competitors
Use ORM tools to benchmark everything from response rates and ratings to the number of reviews per property. You can go a step further in your analysis to gain insights about services and amenities that resonate with guests at competing hotels. Consider conducting a SWOT analysis
to assess your hotel’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This bit of analysis can also help you determine how you stack up against competitors.
- Leverage semantic analysis of review content
An examination of exactly what guests say about certain features can help you determine areas where your property excels, as well as areas for improvement. Be sure to use preset categories and reports to cover areas such as check-in and in-room dining experiences. You can then use that feedback to craft changes to receive higher rankings.
- Share feedback with your team
Online reviews offer a wealth of information for your property. You might only have a couple of staff members manage responses, but the insight should be shared with all relevant departments to encourage improvement. Some criticism might be unfounded, but many of these points can spark meaningful conversations. Sharing reports regularly will allow your team to track progress.
In spite of a clear connection between reviews and profits, relatively few hotel leaders fully leverage the information. They might seem like a different beast, but online reviews should receive the same level of care you would offer to anyone standing in your lobby.
NB1: This is a viewpoint by Micheal Innocentin, executive director of digital marketing for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, part of AccorHotels.
NB2:Image by Paha_L/BigStock