If you trained all employees to expect every guest to write a review, how would that change the way your hotel operates? My guess is that it would drive staff to provide better service and take care of small issues in person, before guests have a chance to complain online.
For example, during a recent hotel stay I left my room to get coffee before a morning conference call. When I came back up to my room my key didn’t work. I went back downstairs and explained the situation and was given a new key, even though I said that the light blinked green but wouldn’t open. The new key didn’t work either. Rather than go all the way downstairs, I asked a housekeeper in the hallway to call security since it was clear that it wasn’t the key, but rather the lock, that wasn’t working. About ten minutes later someone showed up and verified that the lock was broken. He had to use a metal devise to try to open the door manually by catching the inside door handle with a metal noose. It was a frustrating process (for both of us) that took a long time. Once he was able to open the door, I raced inside to jump on my call. Unfortunately, the lock had to be removed and reinstalled so there was a lot of drilling going on in the background. The entire process took over an hour and while the staff that handled the issue was professional and helpful, I felt put out. The average guest in the same situation would surely write a review and complain.
But if the hotel assumed that all guests were going to write reviews, I imagine the situation would’ve been handled differently. For starters, when I went downstairs and explained how the door lock was malfunctioning, the employee should’ve sent someone to accompany me to my room to ensure that I was able to get in. Then, knowing that it would take a while to open the door, I should have been offered an apology and quiet place to make my call. Finally, the GM should have called me later in the day to apologize for the inconvenience. Had all this happened, I might even have written about how great they were handling unfortunate situations that arrive.
While service perfection is an unrealistic aspiration, with more and more people sharing their experiences online, it is critical for hoteliers to adjust their service levels to ensure that guests don’t leave the hotel with any misgivings or ill will. How can this be accomplished? For starters, review the service logs and tickets regularly throughout the day to see what issues have come up that affect guests. When in doubt, leave a message with the guest or send up a personal thank you note. And finally, empower your staff to provide compensation when needed and create a culture where staff feels comfortable going to management with guest issues.