Why Bad Hotel Reviews Should Be a Priority for Hotel Management
When booking travel, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on content posted by their peers online. This personal feedback, or peer-to-peer content, serves as a well-paved road for increased bookings/revenue for a hotel. Like most hotel management companies, you’ve spent years building your brand and organization. You’ve mastered your management style, succeeded in impeccable service through investment in resources for your employees, and kept your hotel investors happy with great returns. But even the best business management plans of the top global hospitality management companies can nose-dive into a PR nightmare because of one bad review, blown out of proportion, leading to a domino effect of negative social media sharing and consumer dissonance. It’s a virtual disaster for your hotels; yet one that can be avoided.
Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management is a growing service industry for any product or service with a digital presence. According to Customer Alliance, a global hospitality reputation and data management company, an estimated 93% of soon-to-be travelers use online reviews when selecting a hotel. And 53% of the people they surveyed would not book a hotel that didn’t provide online hotel reviews. They found a direct correlation between online reputation and sales volume. Maintaining your reputation keeps your hotel at a “competitive advantage.”
Xotels.com, a hotel consultancy company, states says that 85% of guests reviewers on TripAdvisor, Google, or Yelp leave a positive review about their hotel experience. But just as great reviews are an effective means of boosting your reputation, those other 15% can be the antithesis. Once that bad review is posted, you’ve got one chance to show you’re concerned about the reviewer’s negative experience and that you care about their opinion, one chance to save your image.
Does That One Bad Review Really Matter?
Most travelers looking to book online will ignore the 1 star reviews, the ones about a bartender who didn’t serve their drink fast enough, or the one where she found a hair on her pillowcase. But on the downside, if a customer submits a negative review, and you don’t respond to the comment personally, you’re doing more damage by not addressing the issue publicly. Ignoring the comment can cost you lost revenue and tarnish your brand indefinitely.
Daniel E. Craig, Founder of Reknown, a global hospitality consultancy, advises hotel management to make their online reviews a top priority for “serving as both an operational tool for measuring guest satisfaction and guiding improvements, and a marketing tool for building awareness and driving demand.”
The solution can be as simple as choosing from the many reputable (no pun intended) management companies (ReKnown, ReviewPro, TrustYou Analytics) or simply hiring an in-house digital marketing expert to respond to online reviews. The key is having an actual person respond, with a customized message. People want to trust peer reviews so they feel comfortable with their consumer choices. If they see a person with a name, from that hotel, trying to communicate to the customer in a very professional and concerned manner, they’re more likely to brush it off as a one-time incident and not affect their decision.
Simple Steps for Bad Reviews
Learn from the reviews. Measure your strengths and take note of your weaknesses. Scathing reviews may have merit, but sometimes it’s just a disgruntled customer having a bad day. Other times, it’s an opportunity to weed out problems with your customer service or housekeeping. Figure out the root of the problem, get the facts from those involved, and follow a few simple steps to recover.
- Read and Research: What happened? Does the manager know about this incident? What was offered to the guest during their stay?
- Respond: Tackle negative reviews within 24 hours.
- Be Human: Have an actual person, designated with a first name and last initial, personally introduce him or herself, apologize about the guest experience, and offer concern. Humanize the response and show empathy and understanding, while individualizing the response, as best as possible, to that particular guest
- Invite: Welcome the guest to visit the hotel again to make the situation right, or offer a personal email address or direct phone number to discuss the situation offline.
The goal is to open the door to conversation and give the reviewer an opportunity to interact on a personal level. Potential travelers will see from your response that you cared enough to take the time to respond. It shows that your hotel is dedicated to ensuring all guests should have a great experience and that you tend to your problems. And that counts for something the next time someone reads your reviews.