From the very beginning, a hotel’s success has a direct correlation with its reputation. if guide books and peer recommendations were the earlier source of motivation, in the age of digital, the new normal is to surf the web for hotel reputation – which alarmingly can be your biggest asset or liability.
There are several things that contribute to a hotel’s reputation – starting from pre-booking experience to service during stay – guests take note of many small and big details and form an opinion. The rating is just the reflection of the opinion. If your property provides impeccable service, create great experiences, then the positive reviews you have earned will improve your appeal and influence potential guests. The more satisfied guests you have, the more likely they are to return and spend more money, as well as recommend you to others.
According to a study by Deloitte, 59% consumers say that review sites have the most influence on their booking decisions. Another one, conducted by Cornel Hotel School in association with STR and Review Pro suggest that guest satisfaction has a direct impact on the business performances of the hotel. The study, in fact, predict, an increase of 0.89% increase in ADR due to 1 point increase in the hotel’s review score across all online and offline channels.
With Google, OTAs and review sites like TripAdvisor giving more weightage to review score, managing online reputation has become a focal point of hotel operations. With revenue being directly linked with demand, revenue management has now expanded from simple rate management and is now encompassing customer relations and social media into its strategy.
Truth to be told, reputation management is not an easy task, especially when it comes to negative reviews. Guests often over-expect and over-react which get reflected in the reviews. Interestingly, in 2017, the top 4 sites accounting for 74% of review volume are Booking.com, Google, TripAdvisor and Facebook. Clearly, guests aren’t restricting their opinions to travel sites, but also to search engine and social media. Hotel cannot prevent reviewers from expressing their opinion. However, there is only thing they can surely do – respond, more do for negative reviews.
A recent study by Harvard Business Review suggests, replying to guest reviews results in better ratings. Interestingly, the study, which has studied TripAdvisor ratings over thousands of hotels, have found that there is a sharp drop in the rate of short negative reviews when the management starts responding to negative feedback.
Sure, it is not easy to please every guest. However, your willingness to accept constructive criticism shows your commitment to address the issues raised by the guest, which in turn assures your potential guests. Be polite and courteous, try to understand your guests’ concern and respond in a professional way.
However, guests share feedback on various review, travel and social media sites – which often lay scattered and unstructured. Online reputation management tools consolidate these guest reviews from various review websites including TripAdvisor, Bookign.com, Expedia, Agoda, Qype, Holidaycheck, Yelp, Expedia, Facebook, Twitter etc. and provide them to hotels in structured reports. Data is then compiled together into review reports which include guest details (as it appears on the site) along with their feedback and the rating they provide to the hotel. Most advanced review management sites nowadays use sentiment analysis to understand the guest’s emotion towards various aspects of the property. Keywords relevant to the properties are then identified, and ranked based on their popularity, frequency of mentions, and guests’ sentiments towards that category.
A strong visible position on guest review websites indicate that your Price Quality Index is working well, that will enable you to make the right pricing decisions based on RevPAR performance. This will allow the hotel to flex their rates based on several pricing strategies depending on booking levels. However, there are no short cuts. It is an evolving process that must start today! As we move towards the age of consumer controlled brand conversations, hotels need to integrate customer feedback into their business approach and strategy planning.
By staying actively engaged with guests, hotels can ensure a more consistent and loyal base. Are you listening?