Managing your hotel’s online reputation is crucial to your
bottom line. A hotel that is actively
monitoring and updating travel sites like TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Yelp and
Expedia will see direct results in their bookings, ADR and ultimately profits. Today’s
tech savvy traveler will not even consider booking at a hotel until they check
that hotel’s reviews, often on numerous sites. Hoteliers can no longer rely on
the brand’s reputation alone – they must maintain their own. Baby boomers, millennials, retirees, sports
groups, business travelers, leisure, event planners, and travel agents will all
take the time to check on the reviews a hotel has received.
Best practice is to check all online review platforms on a daily basis. Schedule an hour a day to respond to reviews. Make sure you’re responding to both the positive and negative reviews, but make the negative ones a daily priority. As with anything technology related, best practices evolve quickly. It used to be if you got around to the negative ones fairly quickly, you were doing fine. You smiled at the good ones or perhaps shared them with the staff but that was about it. But in order for your hotel to place higher when your prospective guests are searching, you must respond to ALL reviews. It has become a brand “recommendation” that will soon become a requirement.
Your response can be a detailed response to every detail mentioned by the guest, but it doesn’t always have to be a lengthy discourse. Sometimes the short and sweet is best. When a guest is particularly unhappy, a simple “We’re sorry” will heal more than a lengthy explanation of the details. Prospective guests reading reviews don’t usually want all of the nitty gritty, they want to see that your hotel cares enough to respond – to both positive and negative comments. When your hotel was in the wrong, apologize and don’t offer excuses. Current and prospective guests don’t care that there was a storm and your laundry staff couldn’t get in. They just want clean towels – quickly. Acknowledge that the service they received is not up to their expectations or your hotel’s. Check out our blog post on how to respond to negative reviews for more tips on review responses.
Hey, That’s Not Right!
Sometimes a guest will post a negative review of your hotel that is just flat wrong or they didn’t even stay at your property. You’ll know it’s not your property – especially if they were dissatisfied with the meal they had in your restaurant – and you don’t have one. Or they specifically call out how rude Albert at the front desk was, and you don’t have an Albert on staff. Although some sites will indicate if they are a “verified traveler” others let you write a review for hotels that you have not even stayed at. Many sites also have requirements of how long after the guest has stayed with you that they have the time to post a review. If they post a scathing review past the time limit of the travel site, request that it be removed. Or if someone was looking to rent meeting or banquet space for a baby shower, wedding reception or family reunion and their preferred date was not available or your catering requirements are not to their liking and they posted a cutting review, reach out to the support for the review sites and request that it be removed. It doesn’t hurt to try.
A new feature fully released in 2015, Real-Time Reviews by Expedia require more urgency. These reviews are your way to take care of current guests while they are still on property – an opportunity to resolve an issue before it becomes a negative review on a travel site or within the brand’s feedback system like Medialla. Guests are invited by Expedia to utilize Real-Time feedback and indicate with a J or L their satisfaction with their Check-In, Room and the Location of the hotel. If they’re happy, a simple thank you and “enjoy your stay with us” works fine. But if they express dissatisfaction with any of the areas, it’s an opportunity for the General Manager to reach out, resolve the issue and create an advocate.
For example, Tammy Traveler reaches her hotel and there was
a mix up with her room assignment. She wanted a beach view and she got a parking
lot view. She may not have asked the front desk staff about her view but is
less than happy when she gets to her room. If she shares via Real-Time Feedback
that her room is L,
the hotel has the opportunity to reach out directly and resolve the issue.
Tammy may share on Expedia, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram that there was an
issue but the staff jumped right in and resolved it immediately - which looks
100% better than the negative review she might have left.
It’s A Balancing Act
As an owner or General Manager, you have very limited time to respond to reviews, let alone check numerous review sites. Utilizing tools like Revinate or ReviewPro will speed up the process. These tools consolidate all of your reviews into one central location for responding, analyzing reports and monitoring hotel rankings. You can also contract with us here at PHD Hospitality to manage your online reputation. We’ll help you monitor interaction and create content that inspires current and future guests.
Which review site do you see the most reviews from? Share in
the comments below.