One thing we repeatedly hear from our customers is how frustrating it is to hear guest complaints about service and amenities for the first time in online reviews. Most hoteliers, if they knew guests were experiencing problems or weren’t satisfied, would do everything in their power to solve the issues while the guest was still on property. However, they can’t solve issues that they don’t know about.
So why do most guests remain silent until it comes time to write their review? Based on my own experience as a guest, it’s because they don’t want to be confrontational or it’s not a big enough problem to complain about in person. For example, I recently stayed at a luxury hotel in Melbourne, Australia. My colleague and I were discussing whether, in fact, the hotel was truly a luxury hotel and I mentioned that I noticed that the towels were frayed and a true luxury hotel would not put them in the bathroom. I even took a picture to show her the next day, and later, when I was writing my review, I mentioned it, saying, “While it in no way affected my stay, I did notice that the towels in the bathroom were frayed.” Should I have contacted the front desk to let them know? Perhaps… but what would they think of me? That’s I’m hypercritical.
But, if I was asked whether or not my room was perfect, I would have provided the feedback in person. The only solution for hoteliers to avoid negative feedback in reviews is to know about issues and resolve them before the guest checks out.
Here are some ways to do that:
- At check-in, make it clear that guest satisfaction is critical and if guests have any problems at all, no matter how small, to please let them know.
- Train staff to engage with guests and ask them about their stay and their rooms.
- Place Revinate On-Site Surveys, an iPad feedback solution, around the property to collect guest feedback from guests who don’t want to be perceived as ‘problem-children’ and would prefer to give feedback in a non-confrontational way.
- Train check-out staff to ask guests if they experienced anything negative during their stay and, depending on the issue, apologize or make amends. Follow up with an apology email or call so the guest knows you care about his/her satisfaction before they start writing their reviews.
What we see from online reviews is that when an issue is solved on site, guests will mention the issue and how well the staff took care of it and become advocates of the hotel. Everything that you can do to identify and rectify service issues will go a long way towards your online reputation.