Being a part of the industry, hotel reviews are something I always take with a pinch of salt. Especially those on the extreme sides. However, internet is a place for opinions and if many more people join in the chorus to say negatives about a property, then I would rather give it a miss instead of taking a chance. But does that really make it a bad hotel?
Truth be told, if most people are un-happy with the property, then there must be something wrong with it. Guests are expressing their dissatisfaction as they have had bad experiences. And hotels need to take them seriously. As the first rule of the service industry says customer is the king, and in this age of hyper-internet activity, they rule.
Understand your guests’ emotional journey
While interacting with hoteliers and visitors at ITB Berlin this year, I realized that in coming years personalised content will going to be a priority for hoteliers. With 3 billion internet users and 1.96 billion social media users in the world it is no wonder that key hotel investment trends in 2015 would include the development of one-to-one relationship with guests through reputation management and personalized marketing. As a form of direct communication, customer reviews clearly identify what are the most important things to the customers and what’s not. This also highlights where the hotel is performing well and where there is more room for development. Engaging with your guest in a direct conversation can possibly expose a more personable side of the hotel, build a greater level of trust with the customer and in the course spread a positive brand story. With TripAdvisor now offering direct bookings from their platform, a strong social media presence along with intelligent meta-search marketing can give hotels a real chance of improving, increasing conversion rates.
The Hidden Story within Reviews
A recent survey by Laterooms.com suggests that 90% of travellers would avoid booking hotels labelled as “dirty” in online review sites. Sure, the situation might not be as bad as the guests made it seem, but the hotel cannot prevent the reviewer from expressing his/her opinion. However the beauty of online reputation sites is that most will give the property an option to respond. And it needs to do just that - Respond! More so for negative reviews. No hotel deliberately sets out to create negative emotions for guests, but it happens, and you need to know what those are so you can work out how to reduce their impact on your guests.
As revenue management evolves, it is getting away from simple rate management and is now incorporating customer relations and social media into its strategy. The more satisfied guests you have, the more likely they are to return and spend more money, as well as recommend you to others. Reputation has a positive correlation with the hotel’s overall Average Daily Rate (ADR) and revenue. It’s time now for the revenue management department to work hand in hand with the marketing team, if they are not already doing that.
In my next edition I'll talk about how positive reviews and reputation management tool can can add more revenue to your hotel.