Responding to Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide
In my five years as a hotelier, my teams and I experienced the highs and lows of guest feedback. On one hand, when it comes to guest feedback, it’s natural to want to hear your guests’ positive thoughts and feelings about your hotel. On the other hand, negative feedback is just as valuable. Negative feedback shows you where your team or your property have opportunities for improvement.
But, what happens when that negative review is public? The problem hoteliers face today is that guest feedback is no longer private. Your guests are writing about their experiences with your property on social media and sites like TripAdvisor. And, prospective guests are reading these public reviews before they book. 93% of travelers worldwide say online reviews have an impact on their booking decisions, according to a 2013 TripAdvisor study.
Responding to reviews offers additional benefits, according to a TripAdvisor study published in September 2014. Hotels that respond to over 50% of their online reviews increase their likelihood of receiving a booking by 24%, compared to properties that do not respond to reviews.
So what should hoteliers do when negative reviews appear online? From a hotelier perspective, nothing is more discouraging/disheartening than receiving negative feedback, especially if that feedback is pertaining to you. But, it’s important to maintain your composure and stick to the following step-by-step action plan when you respond to a guest.
When the review arrives in your system
- Look up the guest by first and last name in the Property Management System. The guest may have stay comments regarding issues they encountered during this stay. Do your due diligence in researching the issue to see if the hotel was made aware during their stay.
- Depending on the issue, email the review to the corresponding department managers to see if managers have any background on the issue. The greater the context you have to the situation, the better you can respond.
- If your hotel has previous stay history, explore how many times this guest has stayed at your hotel to see if they’ve encountered errors before. If the guest has a history of bringing up issues post-stay, you should be aware of this. Additionally, if this guest is a repeat customer, it is vital to do everything you can to turn this guest’s experience around.
Behind the scenes
- Explore the guest’s social profile. If the guest has 50 contributions and most are negative, could the guest be fishing or attempting to exploit the system? Finding out detailed information on your guest’s review history can be beneficial.
- Gather all feedback from hotel managers within 24 hours. The longer your review is out there without a response, the more prospective guests are reading that negative feedback! Response coverage and a quick turnaround is absolutely crucial.
- Has this guest reached out to you via Twitter or Facebook prior to their stay? Finding out if this is the first social media communication between the hotel and guest can help you understand the guest’s concerns.
Responding to reviews
Above all, the most important thing to remember is, don’t panic! Keep your cool and stay professional. Your specific response to the review will depend on the details of the situation and your brand voice.
Travelers understand they may encounter hiccups during their stay. However, it is how hoteliers respond to an issue to resolve the situation that will be the deciding factor of turning that guest from a detractor to a passive or a promoter.