Hotels have never relied on their reputation as much as they do today. Research shows that online reviews are incredibly powerful, with a recent study from BrightLocal underlining this in no uncertain terms. Its comprehensive Local Consumer Review Survey was able to conclude that 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation from someone they know. What’s more, 91% of all consumers read online reviews – meaning there’s no hiding place if your online reputation management strategy has strayed off course.
In a world where one or two bad reviews can go viral and spell disaster for a hotel, it’s important to remain professional from start to finish. However with the day to day running of a hotel often taking precedent, it can be difficult to keep on top of feedback – particularly negative feedback.
Although a set of negative feedback can prove detrimental for a hotel, it is actually how the hotel responds to such criticism that is much more important in the long-run. So part of the online reputation management of a hotel involves responding to the negative feedback in a sympathetic, yet factual way. But as we’re aware, this isn’t always part of the overall marketing strategy. So, what can you learn from your rivals when it comes to handling negative feedback?
Don’t leave feedback unanswered too long
It’s imperative that review sites are checked regularly – particularly during busy periods. Leaving back feedback lingering on review sites for too long without a response, or replying weeks after the review is left, looks unprofessional and insincere. There have been far too many instances where companies, not just hotels, have refused to respond and implement change in a process. This is a recipe for negative press.
Take feedback seriously
Even if you know that a complaint isn’t quite factual, it’s important that you take it seriously. Don’t forget that most responses are in the public sphere. And even if they aren’t, with technology, it can easily be made public. When responding to a complaint or bad review, get the facts from those involved and respond in an upbeat tone. It’s important that you first address the reviewer, apologise for the experience, and issue a call to action – such as offering the guest a discounted stay to allow you to rectify your mistakes or encouraging them to speak with you further so you can resolve the issue.
Don’t let just anyone respond
You must consider who will respond to these reviews – both good and bad. The manager of a hotel is often the best person to respond as guests will usually feel like their complaint has been taken seriously. It’s also one of the best ways for the manager to hear first-hand and honest reviews of the hotel and service offered by the staff. Understanding when to involve the most senior employees is a vital part of a hotel digital marketing strategy, and as a result can have a significant impact on how guests and potential guests perceive the hotel.
If your hotel digital marketing strategy is internally focused, taking some time to study the reviews and responses provided by competitors can offer a lesson in both how to and how not to approach your public guest feedback.