Make reputation management a priority. Whether your property is a five-star resort or a one-star motel, your guests are evaluating you on how well you communicate and deliver on your brand promise. Subscribe to a social media monitoring tool and start tracking your Market Share of Guest Satisfaction; in the age of social networking, it’s as important as your revPAR index. Formulate a strategy for optimizing your online reputation, set goals, and meet regularly with your social media team to review progress.
Speak up. We would never ignore a guest ranting in our lobby, so why do so few negative reviews receive a response? (7%, according to TripAdvisor). It’s our chance to show the world we care, to thank the guest for feedback, to apologize and explain, and to clear up any misconceptions. On TripAdvisor reviewers can’t reply to hotel responses, so effectively we get the last word. Use it.
Engage. Hotels used to hire mystery shoppers to tell us what we were doing wrong; now our guests do it and pay us for the privilege. User reviews keep us in touch with guests and allow us to reach a mass market we could never hope to reach through our own marketing efforts. Be grateful. Wherever possible, engage writers of negative reviews and try to make amends. With expert handling, our harshest critics can become our most powerful advocates.
Take the high road. If the review is petty or vindictive, there’s no need to stoop to that level; travelers are smart enough to read between the lines. If allegations are false and defamatory, dispute the review with the host site, post a diplomatic response to set the record straight, and let it go. If your property’s reputation is so fragile that one or two bad reviews will devastate your business, you’ve got more issues than bad reviews. Read on.
Create a cycle of positivity. Use guest feedback to justify investments in training, labor, capital upgrades and communications. Improvements will generate positive reviews, which will attract more travelers and in turn will generate incremental revenue, thereby funding more improvements, and so on. The alternative? Ignore feedback and create a cycle of negativity, with the opposite results.
Prevent escalation. If you listen closely, bad reviews are often less about the issue itself than how staff responded when it was brought to their attention. Train employees to prevent on-property issues from escalating to online complaints by listening, empathizing, offering solutions and following up to ensure guests are satisfied. Some issues take time and money to fix; in the meantime, ensure staff are minimizing fallout by expertly managing complaints.