The consumer has always been at the heart of every business. With changing times, where new ideas and technologies are being introduced every now and then to enhance their overall experience, consumer satisfaction has assumed utmost importance. A happy consumer defines the success of any business and an unsatisfied one calls for the businesses to have a re-look at their processes. The hospitality industry is all about serving people right and delivering the best-in-class experience to their patrons. What the guest feels and says is very important, and responding to their concerns is a critical aspect to the growth of hotel business.
We bow our heads to this splendid thing called technology, opening a host of avenues for the traveller to vent out their opinions on their stay experience with any hotel. Gone are those days when an unsatisfied guest could probably do no or little harm if he disliked any part of his stay at the property. At most, he would not return to the hotel, or perhaps spread a negative word of mouth, the impact of which is mostly limited. But, the rise of social media has put that chapter of no impact of providing bad experience to an end. In fact, it has toughened the job of hoteliers, who are now on their toes, constantly to ensure that the guest leaves with a smile on his face and will give a good review about their hotel. Apart from this a happy consumer helps them earn an extra point and a pat on their backs.
As social media gradually rose to make deeper inroads in our lives, online reviews became one of the most important factors affecting the traveller’s decision to book a hotel. According to a study made by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright, 77% of travellers refer to online reviews before choosing a hotel. A number of hotel review websites have come into existence recently, encouraging guests to rate their experience of staying in a hotel. A good review is a bonus point, which goes a long way in establishing a pleasant image and a high ranking of the hotel on review sites. At the same time, a negative review has the potential to harm the hotel reputation, thereby impacting its business.
Till the time you are receiving positive remarks it is all easy and good, but what when you get a negative mention about our hotel. Further, not responding to online reviews or inappropriate response could probably cause an irreparable damage to the well-being of the hotel.
Below are some smart tips to manage them, that every hotel must follow –
- Monitor all the reviews carefully – With a rise in the number of social media platforms and review sites, the clutter has increased, and so has the chances of a few reviews going unattended. Well, that’s a big risk in the current scenario. Therefore, a thorough monitoring mechanism should be put in place, keeping a check on all the key platforms. This could be done by setting up alerts on social networks and review sites. In case there is a mention of the hotel name, the team must be notified immediately, so that an appropriate response can be drafted and communicated with no loss of time.
- Respond to all reviews, good or bad – Whether a good or a bad review, an acknowledgement must be given. Replying to a positive review is not an uphill task. It is only the negative review, answering which might shake our hands a little. Such reviews are inevitable, so do not be scared and let it go unattended. In fact, an undesirable comment must be answered almost instantaneously. Absence of any reply could probably do more damage to the hotel reputation, much more than we can imagine. A recent research reveals that 87% of travellers had an improved opinion of a hotel if they read an appropriate management response to bad reviews.
- Do not delay the response – The customer of today demands everything instantly. A response to his comment is also expected without any delay. The hotel management must ensure that the guest receives a reply maximum within 72 hours, in order to earn some saving points. A delayed response might convey a careless attitude and could do a little more damage.
- Dedicate a resource solely to manage online reviews – Managing online reviews should be the responsibility of only dedicated hotel staff, who perhaps have the expertise of doing so in a suitable manner. Different people replying to different online reviews can break the consistency, which in turn dents the brand image. It is important to adopt a unique style of writing, maintaining uniform tone and language in your communication. Tools which assist in Online Reputation Management are really valuable here. They help you identify an also bridge the gap between guest’s expectations and reality.
- Reply in a gracious and professional manner – It is advisable to adopt a strictly professional and courteous language while responding to online reviews. A casual reply portrays you as a non-serious host, who might be taking such reviews with a pinch of salt, and might not be willing to act on the feedback. Moreover, the review must be answered humbly. After all, it is the hospitality industry. Remember, a few polite words can calm a situation down and prevent the fumes of discontent to rise beyond a level. There are tools which help you respond to guest reviews in their native language, also integration with social media platforms is possible.
- Keep it simple – Do not draft a lengthy reply, especially while responding to a positive reply. Keeping it simple adds class.
- Design customised surveys – Hoteliers should also send customised and more personalised surveys to guests for their more effective guest intelligence Design your questionnaire on major KPIs like Room, Service, Location, Value, Cleanliness, Sleep Quality, etc. Tools are available with features which help hoteliers with analytics from the survey on the Survey Dashboard.
- Responding to a positive review – Express delight that the guest had a pleasant stay at your hotel. Thank them for choosing their property and show keenness to have them over again. Do not make an attempt to up-sell while replying, as it lowers the brand proposition.
- Responding to a mixed review – A mixed review gives you an excellent opportunity to find out about the gap areas from the guest. While replying, make sure that you try to understand the particular aspects of their stay which they didn’t cherish. This would help make necessary corrections for the future. With a promise to improve the services, express your eagerness to serve them soon.
- Responding to a negative review – This is the most critical part of online reputation management of the hotel. Well, the customer is already disappointed, so it is important to start by expressing deep apologies for a bad experience. Be extremely polite and try to take the conversation offline if possible, in order to avoid public conflict. Assure them that the issues would be resolved, and the services will only get better. At the end, how you respond to a negative review gives you a fair chance to turn the situation in your favour.
It is rightly said that the building of a brand image might take several years, but only a few seconds to thrash it into pieces. Technology, especially social media, has made the statement come true for the hospitality industry as well. A few negative reviews have the power to destroy the hotel image and business, and by not responding to these reviews, the game could be simply over. When and how you respond to these serious reviews can do wonders, and even win your customers back.
The game could be yours, again!