Online Reviews = Nightmare? – Part III
By now, consistently responding to online reviews should be a standard procedure nailed down by your marketing department, don’t you think?
But while many hoteliers are adept of handling in-person feedback and complaints, when they move to the online landscape the game completely changes. Some are just way too nervous to respond at all, but when you get an ugly review that makes you turn red with anger or embarrassment, how should you respond?
We leave some of the ideally suggested responses for the most common, yet challenging reviews a guest can leave.
Complaint #1 . Inconsiderate Staff
Guest reviews can make your employees look like hospitality rock stars or lazy and brusque good-for-nothings, right?. Often, you’ll see reviews that say “Sam at the reception was extremely rude and short with us.” How do you respond when the review mentions one of your own?
First off, get your staff’s side of the story, as this type of public finger-pointing can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. If you believe your staff acted properly, then back them up. However, if the staff member is known for being inconsiderate and impolite, then it’s time for HR to step in with service training.
When responding, don’t sell out your employee by promising there will be punishment. Simply give your regrets and say that you will look into their feedback with the entire team. If you feel the review was uncalled for, express your support by saying: “We’re astonished to read your review about our receptionist, he’s known for being one of our best.”
Complaint #2 . Uncleanliness And | Or Broken Fixtures
If you receive a complaint about the level of cleanliness of your property, or if items in a particular room are in disrepair [and normally it isn’t so], let them know it was a rare occasion: “Please note that we take extreme pride in keeping our property up to the highest standards, but clearly we had a lapse during your time with us.”
Complaint #3 . Variables Out Of Your Control
What if a guest complains about the noise that comes from the street, from the construction site across the way, or a nearby restaurant?
How you respond will shape the impressions of potential guests, so make sure you’re transparent. Do not cover up the issue, but don’t scare anyone away either. The best way to tackle these types of reviews is to offer options: “Our lively neighborhood is what makes our location so attractive. We have rooms that don’t face the street on the west side of our property, in case you’d like to reserve those upon request.”
For issues that aren’t easy to fix on the spot, such as outdated furniture and shabby décor: “We’re aware that it’s time for a refresh and update, and are happy that we can offer such modest rates in the meantime.” Then, start building a list of the complaints to present to your hotel ownership when you push for renovations.
Complaint #5 . What A Rip-Off
Whether you’re a five-star luxury resort or just a small motel, we’ve all heard it before, right?
People will always complain about the rate no matter how high or low it is. Usually these complaints are rooted in perception of value, not price. If this comes up too often, then most likely you are overcharging, overselling, or under-delivering [probably even a combination of all three] and need to make changes accordingly.
Otherwise, respond with: “Our rates are comparable to similar hotels in our neighborhood, as we feel we provide some of the best value because of our prime location and personal service standards. We’re sorry that this was not your impression this time around.”
Complaint #6 . Mistakes That Could Have Been Prevented
We all make mistakes and your hotel is probably not an exception.
Graciously own up to any mistakes or oversights from your part: “We’re genuinely sorry that the situation was not handled in the best way and I’ve spoken with the team to prevent if from happening again.”
Complaint #7 . Inaccurate Details
Because of simple misunderstandings, reviews can be full of false information. If the details are too minor to address, just let it go or set the record straight matter-of-factly: “We’re truly sorry you were misinformed and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. Our restaurant is open for breakfast every day at 7am.”
However, if the review is ripe of fraudulent details, let the host site know because the integrity of reviews is important to them as well. In this cases they will want proof and there is no guarantee that they will comply and remove the review. So, respond with: “We thoroughly looked into this and found no record of this event. We take your complaint seriously, so please contact me directly so we can discuss.”
Hotels should enthusiastically encourage public online reviews because most traveler’s won’t even book without reading them.
Do not be afraid of negative feedback going public; guests are just as inclined to write reviews about great experiences as they are about the not so great. Ultimately, your hotel’s reputation depends on how you deal with a negative comment, rather than the comment itself.
Once reviews are coming in, you can help spread the word on your website, as well as sharing positive reviews on social media. Be transparent and watch your occupancy soar!
TOP HOTELS ARE ON IT, AND SO SHOULD YOU
Unsurprisingly, TOP RANKED hotels already follow much of this wisdom.
Of the hotels listed on TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Hotels – World”, every single one responded promptly and politely to negative reviews, so perhaps the secret that will guarantee the success of the new generation of hoteliers, is actually not that secretive.
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Account Manager | HDS – Hotel Digital Strategy