Whether you love them or hate them, online reviews do get read and they do have a great influence on a customer's booking decision which means hoteliers need to take notice and most importantly they need to take action. Today, more than ever, travelers are basing their travel decisions on what they read on review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp. More often than not, customers will make their decision whether to book with you or another hotel solely from reading online reviews. Customers may be so convinced as to what these reviewers have to say about your hotel that they won't even bother to visit your hotel's website. Others will directly search for your hotel and go to the website to look for what they need. From there the research continues and the consumer will visit reviews sites to figure out what the reality of the stay is from a guests' perspective. Some consumers have the belief that websites may not come off as truthful or accurate as the actual hotel experience because of all the hype and marketing fluff on the site. With that said, search engines consider these review sites a vital part of their algorithm. The reality is, hotels are not the only ones who have control of their brand image anymore. OTAs, review sites, and travel metasearch engines like Kayak and Trivago as well as reviewers all have control of your hotel's brand image especially in the online sphere. Studies have shown that more people tend to leave reviews if they've had a bad experience than a good one. That being the case, it is important to follow these tips to save your hotel's reputation after a bad review:
Don't Allow a Bad Review Define Your Hotel
No matter how good of the customer service you provide or how great your amenities are, hoteliers, at one time or another, will encounter guest complaints. From dirty sheets, plumbing problems, bed bugs, or an encounter with a rude staff member, guests will find something to complain about and they may even broadcast these problems with the rest of the online world. In that case, hoteliers need to be prepared to defend themselves, especially if the reviewer leaves a false claim. It is not enough to monitor what is being said about your property. It is crucial that hotel management respond to these negative reviews in a timely manner. There are plenty of review sites that allow hoteliers to respond to reviews like Tripadvisor, Yelp and Google + so take advantage of this opportunity and comment back! Appropriate responses should include a sincere apology, a promise to address problem, and a brief exclamation as to how you intend to fix the problem and make their next stay more pleasant. Make sure to respond in a timely manner, this shows that guest feedback is important to you and that you value customer service. By acknowledging and simply addressing the review, a frustrated guest can often be converted into a loyal customer.
Save Yourself the Embarrassment
If you leave a management response letting the reviewer know that you intend to correct the issue then make sure that you follow through with any promises made and actually fix the problem. Create a game plan with your staff and take the necessary steps to resolve the issue. Take these negative reviews as constructive criticism to help you improve your hotel's services. Generally, with online reviews, a reader has to see the same complaints over and over for him/her to be convinced it's true. That said, if you fix the problem after one review, you shouldn't hear the same complaints from future guests. Don't let the bad reviews pile up or else you will have to constantly defend yourself. Make sure to reassure the reviewer and potential guests reading the ‘bad' review that the issue will be resolved. It is also a good idea to give details as to how you and your staff deal with the issue. Remember to take initiative and be proactive by training staff, making appropriate renovations and fixing any recurring problems.
In the end, it's all about the guest
Like with any customer service, the truth of the matter is that the guest is always right. Make an effort to win guest loyalty back. Take these guest reviews as an opportunity to reevaluate the issues that they bring up to strengthen your property's amenities and services and to ultimately enhance the guest experience. Let your responses be a way to express your desire for them to stay the hotel again. Go even further by offering a special deal on their next stay at the hotel. Remember guest experience and loyalty is key. Create a pleasant experience for your guests while selling your property truthfully. Simply put, keep your guests happy and by doing so, expect them coming back and referring friends to stay at your hotel.