The hotel industry is such that every type of lodging is now subject to living and dying by its online business reputation. In fact, the review rating and popularity score of the hotel is the main factor in the bulk of leisure and individual business bookings and reservations. Failure or success is directly tied to the proper management and implementation of reputation management strategies that help you control the feedback your business receives.
When things are going according to plan, the bulk of your reviews are full of positive commentary and feedback that highlight the best features of your product and service. But good online review trends are always at risk of being tarnished by a single negative review, or a grouping of negative reviews for experiences that do not necessarily fall under the control of the hotel.
For hoteliers to stay ahead in the game, it is important to know and implement the best practices to protect their online reputation when highly negative reviews do appear online.
For hotels, negative reviews are generally associated with one of three categories: cleanliness, service, or expectations not met. To best tackle these reviews, hoteliers need to constantly evaluate, assess, and react to the voice of their customers online. Let’s explore a few scenarios and learn about best practices currently in place by leading hospitality venues.
Bring the Issue Back to Focus
When negative reviews do appear, you need to be able to parse between a rant and a review, and bring the real issue back to focus. An angry customer might paint a distorted picture that is not aligned with reality. Your job as a reputation manager is to address the issue to a level that matches the passion conveyed by the customer, and translate it for your operational team into terms that are both actionable and aligned with reality.
By bringing the issue into a more realistic focus, the hotel can move into a constant improvement culture that uses customer feedback to enhance products, services, and policies.
A great example of a crisis that often gets blown out of proportion is the infamous hair in the shower. Yes, it is unpleasant, and its appearance is certainly not aligned with the minimum standards of care at any highly-rated facility, but it is not the end of the world. It does not compromise the health and safety of future guests. It does, however, tarnish the ability for a property to convey luxury, quality, and cleanliness in hospitality.
Highlight Your Proactive Compensatory Culture When Possible
When responding to a customer review that has no indication that the guest escalated the issue during their stay and it was not properly addressed, use the opportunity to highlight your commitment to customer service. Reiterate to the reviewer how you would have done anything in your power to bring the issue to a satisfactory resolution had they escalated prior to checking out.
Evaluate the Need for Internal Actions and Customer Compensation
If, upon assessing the online review, you discover that in fact your team has dropped the ball, it is imperative to do two things.
First, make every effort to compensate the customer in order to bring the grievance to a happy resolution. Second, do everything in your power to correct the problem in order to protect future reservations.
If, for example, you have received a review complaining of bedbugs or other pests, and upon inspection you are able to confirm the issue, that review has extended to you an opportunity to make things right with the affected customer. You can then also correct the problem by implementing an aggressive pest control plan, therefore ensuring a pleasant and safe stay to future customers.
Establish a Reputation-Driven Room and Facilities Inspection Program
Smart hospitality managers empower their inspectors and all team members to correct problems on the spot to the best of their ability. Do not foster a culture of finger-pointing and note-taking. A housekeeping supervisor should be empowered and encouraged to walk into a ready room and note shortcomings, while correcting them on the spot. Oftentimes, going back and forth and asking the original housekeeper to tackle the issue results in rooms released with problems that have been already reported, but have not yet been corrected. Don’t allow for that to happen.
Your goal in creating a sound inspection program is to instill a culture in which the inspector looks through the eyes of a reviewer and accordingly makes corrections on the spot.
Capture and Correct Trends
If you are identifying patterns of concern regarding issues such as safety, health, service, or comfort as you respond to online reviews, make it part of your corporate strategy to quickly revise processes and procedures in a way that responds specifically to the online reviews. Reviews give you a highly impactful real-time view into the quality of your operations. Use it to your advantage by rolling out a review management platform that lets you take a look at the most influential review websites on the web.