As more and more travelers seek online reviews prior to booking a trip, it is imperative for hoteliers to know exactly what people are saying about their hotel online.
The bottom line is that online reviews are popular and people seek other travelers’ opinions and experiences before they make a purchasing decision. Instead of looking at reviews with horror, these sites should be taken as opportunities to improve your hotel’s branding.
Since the internet allows you to see guest feedback almost immediately, it makes it easy for hotels to learn about guest experiences, address any problems, and solve them immediately.
The Internet’s instant delivery of information can help hotels improve their guests perception and bottom line revenue.
Many review sites allow hotels to respond to guest reviews. This is important as it gives the hotelier the opportunity to share their side of the story or provide a solution to the problem.
However, a manager’s response must be carefully thought out as an inappropriate response can drive guests away. Below are some practical steps to help respond to guest reviews.
- Identify the relevant hotel department in which the review is directed at (i.e. F&B, housekeeping, etc.). Then, determine the appropriate personnel who is responsible for responding to reviews for this department. Who better to respond to a room cleanliness complaint than the Director of Housekeeping?
- Once the reviews manager is established for each hotel department, the next step is to monitor the online reviews. This can be done by determining the major online review channels and investing time reviewing the comments on those channels. Another option is to invest in a social media monitoring tool which can aggregate data in a single report. This option can save a hotel team valuable time by eliminating the need to log in to every channel to review guest comments. Several tools are available in the market, so when selecting a social media monitoring system, such as Milestone Reviews, be sure to compare tools and choose the system that fits your needs and budget.
- For review channels that allow manager responses, such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc., try to respond to most, if not all, guest reviews – both positive reviews and negative reviews. By responding to guest reviews in a professional and timely manner, it shows the consumers that the hotel cares about its guests’ experiences and improving its services.
Tips for Replying:
- Start by thanking the guest for their comments
- Offer an explanation for their experience (whether good or bad)
- Outline the steps the hotel is taking to improve the experience – or if the comment is positive, maintain the experience
- Invite further communication from the guest and provide direct contact information to personalize the response
Both Trip Advisor and Yelp provide additional guidelines on how to respond to reviews.
- TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/management_response_guidelines
- Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/business/review_response
Remember, guest feedback is always a good thing. Most unhappy customers turn to your competition, never to be heard from again. The ones that take the time to let you know about their experience while staying at your property often times can be won back with a genuine response directly from the hotel.
Online guest reviews should never be ignored. Hotels should embrace the fact that it is a Social Media world and people will talk about anything and everything. The best thing a hotel can do to improve its online reputation is to monitor what their guests are saying, and interact.