Weddings – The Perfect Storm for Negative Reviews
While doing research around the impact of the word ‘manager’ in online hotel reviews, we discovered a topic that seems to correlate very highly with negative reviews mentioning the general manager. That topic is weddings. With wedding season just around the corner, we wanted to share some best practices for ensuring great reviews when you cater to wedding parties.
There is no doubt that weddings are challenging for any hotel manager. At a wedding, the hotel manager may not have time to introduce himself/herself to every guest, which we know can trigger negative reviews if there are problems. In addition, wedding guests feel that their stay is exceptional and may not be respectful of hotel policy or other guests at the hotel. Finally, guests may also begin their stay with a high level of friction due to buildup to the wedding or anxiety surrounding the event.
Best Practice Number One: Be Visible and Accessible
We know from our analysis of reviews that when general managers are visible and accessible, the hotel receives more positive reviews. Here’s an example of a review that touches on the importance of the personal touch during a wedding:
“[Hotel manager name] helped us get a room at the resort when it was full and we had changed our plans to come a day earlier. He greeted us so graciously upon our arrival, followed up on a very minor concern and subsequently bid us farewell on our way out with a warm smile, his card and an offer to connect again as we mentioned we loved it so much we would like to return or try another AM Resort property for our anniversary. [Spa concierge name] anticipated my needs and proactively helped me solve many small problems I encountered (one being an explosion of pepto bismol all over a white dress). She took it upon herself to go into town and buy me detergent and deliver it to me the next day. She helped me find out and procure some items we wanted for our wedding and offered to do a tequila history lesson for my guests free of charge. [Spa manager name], too, was a delight to work with and perfectly orchestrated a spa experience for me and my bridesmaids.”
Interestingly, ‘bridesmaids’ has the strongest negative effect in manager-related reviews amongst all wedding terms. Be sure to seek out the bridal party personally and introduce yourself.
Best Practice Number Two: Treat Wedding Guests With Kid Gloves, But Not At The Expense Of Other Guests
Our analysis (and personal experience) tells us that weddings tend to be noisy and joyous events. Other guests at the hotel might be put out by the noise and antics. You must be sensitive to all your guests but you certainly don’t want to be the wet blanket at the hotel, complaining to the wedding party to keep the noise down. Here’s a review that highlights this fine balance.
“During an impromptu bridal shower, our gathering became a little noisy. [Manager] very respectfully explained the situation to us and offered to move us to another location so that the celebration of the bride could continue without bothering other guests. Obviously, [manager] could have approached the situation with a strong-arm but in his wisdom, kindness and patience he fostered a spirit of cooperation that produced a result conducive to all involved – not an easy feat when dealing with dueling priorities.”
Best Practice Number Three: Proactively work to reduce guest friction before it arises.
The hotel manager has the potential to be an “extra bridesmaid” and ensure the wedding goes off without a hitch. For example, have a set of spare (fake) wedding rings on hand at the front desk at all times. In a pinch they can be used for photographs if the wedding rings are lost. Keep flip-flops on hand for the bridal party to wear when their feet hurt. Think about all the things that can go wrong and anticipate needs and your guests will reward you with glowing reviews.