How do you approach guest reviews on the net, and how can you benefit from them? Here are tips from seven informed individuals in the hotel industry that tells us in the online magazine “Besöksliv” how and why you should work with following up feedback from your guests in the hotel industry.
Answer everything and avoid default answers
Respond on the negative reviews first, preferably immediately. Also answer the positive messages when there is time, at least those that contain more than “clean hotel”. Those that like the hotel should also feel acknowledged. Don’t use any default answers; this makes the hotel appear like it doesn’t care.
To offer compensations openly online may strike back at the hotel, when others read about the compensations they may think: “Aha, if I complain then I can get compensation.” However, if the complaint is of such a nature that you would like to make contact with the costumer, you can ask the guest to contact the hotel to further sort out what has happened. Or contact the guest yourself if its possible to obtain whom it is that has written. In this state it’s also possible to talk about a possible compensation.
Keep regular check
If you subscribe to a search engine that finds when the hotel has been mention on different sites and in social media, you get a quick and broad overview. However, it is possible to do without such a service, through manual searches on the biggest sites you will get far. Moreover, you can get mail from Tripadvisor, as an example, when someone has written something about the hotel.
– We’re observing what is coming through Tripadvisor and spreads it within the organization. It’s important that our employees know what has been written about us, says Björn Milton.
Have one person at the hotel, maybe the manager or the desk manager, that has good overview over what guests that has been at the hotel and is responsible for responding to guest reviews. If the organization is large then you may need a communicator that works solely with guest feedback via the hotel site, guest reviews and social media.
Don’t be afraid of negative reviews
A negative comment doesn’t need to have serious consequences if you treat it properly. Complaints may even have a positive impact, not only because it can lead towards development of the hotel.
– When I worked at Nordic Light, we received a comment from one middle-aged British couple. They wrote that the music was to loud, that the light installations in the lobby were terrible and that there were only younger people at the hotel. And of course the young, hip people that read the comment thought “How nice, no middle-aged British couples, this hotel suits me”, says Anders Johansson.
Link to the hotel website
Encourage the guests in various ways to leave reviews, for example through signs in the elevator or to link to Tripadvisor through your own site. In the example, booking.com, you cannot respond to guest reviews. One solution is to respond to the criticism right there on their own site.
Don’t put the blame on others
Be as specific as possible when you answer a guest. Confirm the writer, whether it is something positive or negative. Tell about eventual changes that are a result of the complaint. The biggest mistake is to not listen, or to question the one that is complaining.
– But sometimes I’m relatively tough back. Like when I knew that we had had contact with a guest when he was at the hotel, and that he was compensated for the things that he experienced, and still wrote negative things about us on Tripadvisor. Then I was clear when I wrote that we had had this discussion eye to eye, and that I had experienced it as we had resolved the situation, says Martin Åkesson.
Prevent negative experiences
Catch what the guest thinks about their stay while in progress, so that you have opportunity to directly correct things that he/she is not satisfied with. As an example send out a welcome bouquet and have procedures for the staff to ask the guests during their visit how he/she has it.
– Often the guests write afterwards about these kinds of things that actually would be quite easy to fix on site directly, says Chatrine Andersson.
Let the guest speak out about their visit in a mail survey, as an example, when their stay is over.
The tips are compiled after interviews with: Anders Johansson, Hospitality Visions, Björn Milton, co-owner of Hotel Stelor Gotland, Linda Wikström, operations manager at Hotel Tylösand, Martin Åkesson, hotel manager at Courtyard by Marriott in Stockholm, Mona Adawi, operator at Grand Hotel Opera in Gothenburg, Veronica Gustafsson, CEO at Best Western Plaza Hotel in Eskilstuna, and Chatrine Andersson, guest relation manager at Clarion Sign in Stockholm.