It was a lovely Saturday night in Valletta, the capital of Malta. The city was slowly falling asleep and getting some rest, and so did we. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, the horror started. Pavement works had been scheduled for that odd time when most locals and tourists were sleeping and apparently no one was informed. After 2 hours of trying to get some sleep, we decided to call the 24/7 phone number provided to hotel guests for the time when reception is closed. For the entire night, no one picked up the call.
In the very morning of the next day, we approached the staff downstairs and explained that for nearly the entire night we couldn’t get any sleep. The only thing we wanted, was to change the room and be relocated to the back part of the building. We knew it was possible as most of the rooms were not occupied due to low season. Reception couldn’t do anything so they asked manager to come. His approach was far from what is a standard in the hospitality industry. He didn’t care. No apologies, no initiative to at least compensate the whole situation. On top of that arrogant attitude.
Shortly after coming back home, the following feedback from our side was given: one star on TripAdvisor, one star on Facebook, full story on our blog and a clear message – don’t go there. It started spreading and other travellers started sharing their experience with the place. Nowadays every single person searching for accommodation in Valletta will think twice before they book a place that doesn’t care about anything but money.
The story above remains the best example of how hoteliers should not deal with issues. Do not provide a 24/7 phone if no one is going to pick it up. If no one picked it up, listen to what a guest has to say. These are the basics that were ignored in this situation.
Hoteliers, normally great people with love and passion to what they do, should always remember – nowadays it’s all about the experience.
Times have changed. Information travels fast and is easily accessible. Firstly, preventing, and if not possible, reacting to issues remains the most important part of managing properties that provide service to travellers.
Reviews – Key Performance Indicators of Hotel Management
There is no better source of knowing how our hotel business is doing than reviews and guests’ feedback. It helps hotels understand their satisfaction and, in many cases, leads to a change of strategy or operations.
Most importantly, however, customers’ experience described in reviews, is now the major criteria that guests use to select properties in which they are going to stay. It’s far more important than price and location and it’s normally very accurate as it often says truth about the place we are going to stay at.
It remains the key activity of hoteliers to manage their reputation across all channels and website that they are present on, to make sure they stay on top. In order to understand why, it is enough to mention that more than a half of Tripadvisor users will avoid booking hotels with no reviews and many of them won’t do it either if they notice there is no interaction from hotel side. No interaction meaning no response to a review.
The lack of interaction could be a path to a disaster. In the competitive environment of the hotel industry, it can directly lead to losses in revenue. After years of building positive image of their property, it can only take a short moment until it all is ruined.
Steps to Manage Hotel’s Online Reputation
Firstly, and most importantly, make sure guests leave with a great experience. It sounds so easy, but it is indeed the key to maintain hotel’s reputation. Why? Simply because guests will leave a nice review. Even if there is an issue during the stay, hotel still has time to react. A good response will ensure a good review. Their friends from Facebook or other visitors of TripAdvisor will remain convinced that it’s a good choice to stay in that property. Secondly, listen to what they say. Voices of hotels’ guests recorded in OTAs, in social media or other websites, present a sort of a pattern from which management can learn what shall be improved. Such information shall be brought to staff meetings, discussed, and then converted into action. Thirdly, when a negative review appears, make sure you address it. In case of not genuine reviews, you can always dispute and get them removed. With real ones that tell about issues which indeed occurred, study them and deal with the problem. This will prove to other people that you really care.
If hoteliers think that responding to negative reviews is just enough, it isn’t in fact. It is also a good practice to respond to positive ones from time to time. Why? If you look at them, think how much time your guest spent on writing it. In times of fast living, the fact that someone really appreciated our work, should be noticed. Simply thank your guests for the time spent for writing their feedbacks. It will certainly encourage the other ones to do the same and hotel will get a continuous flow of new reviews.
Apart from just responding, it is also important to note that it shall be done systematically and with certain personal touch. There is, however, something that every hotelier should do afterwards – acknowledge mistakes and make sure they are fixed for good.
Each new review is a new chance for great marketing and promotion of what hotel can offer. Especially in case of the positive ones, hoteliers should remember to look into the review and further evaluate the most positive sides. Emphasizing property values is a great way to promote the quality services of the property.
A few months later after a noisy night at Valletta, we have returned to TripAdvisor to see whether hotel decided to respond to our long and sober review. It hasn’t. Instead of that, many other travellers shared their experience. Instead of dealing with a problem, the hotel has just dropped to another page on TripAdvisor, further decreasing its reputation.