Once upon a time, when people wanted to go away for the weekend, or for a short break, they would ask the advice of family and friends, or visit a travel agent and seek advice on which hotel would best suit their needs. With the advancement of the internet, this changed slightly and people began using internet search engines to discover hotels close to their chosen location and the importance of having a good website became evident. Now the balance of power has shifted again with many people choosing to use third party review websites or social media to find suitable accommodation.
In many ways this shift is good for hotels; if a guest has had a good time with you then they are likely to share this with the internet which will have a good impact on your overall brand. However, as with anything, the downside of this is that unhappy guests will equally have no qualms about sharing their experiences with the wider online community and if you leave criticisms or complaints unhandled, then this can have a very negative effect on the appearance of your brand.
Recent research carried out by TripAdvisor suggested that 93% of people find reviews important when deciding which hotel they want to stay at and 53% of people would not book a hotel without first reading a guest review. This makes it patently clear that reviews and feedback can have a very direct effect on whether your hotel rises or falls.
So what can you do about it? Firstly, it is important to be aware of the sites which are being used, such as TripAdvisor and Facebook. Once you know where your hotel is being reviewed then you can take stock of the comments. Naturally, if the majority of comments are positive and reflect well on your hotel then there is little need for concern, but what happens if there are an increasing number of dissatisfied guests?
The best thing you can do is to create a strategy for such comments. How are you going to address a complaint made in the public forum? What can you offer to ensure that existing and future guests are placated? How can you ensure that your reputation is not permanently damaged?
There is a very simple two step formula you can employ if in doubt:
Firstly, you must respond. This is key. Remember that any comments made via social media are out there for all to see and so not responding will only look as though you have something to hide. It is important that you acknowledge the comment, apologise for any upset which may have been caused, and offer some form of solution. Everyone makes mistakes and if you acknowledge a wrong that has been done (whether you agree or not) this will make you seem more ‘human’ in the eyes of onlookers and future guests.
Secondly, take it out of the public eye. As soon as is reasonably possible, take the discussion off the main stage and into a private discussion. This will help protect your image and will also ensure that you can deal with the complaint in a timely manner.
Social media has the ability to be great for hotels, if handled properly and correctly.