Over the past few years, online review forums have completely revolutionised the hospitality sector. No longer do everyday travellers need to rely on the word of a professional critic when it comes to judging a hotel. These days, millions of reviews for everything from a six-star luxury hotel in Dubai through to a cheap B&B in Brighton, are available at the click of a button. On the downside, a spate of bad reviews can seriously affect an establishment’s bottom line. On the other hand, positive feedback can lead to an upturn in bookings.
So, how do you get your hotel staff on board and actively working to get good reviews? Here are a few simple, tried and tested ways:
An educated team is a motivated team
Numerous studies have now shown the positive online reviews can lead to an upturn in hotel bookings, and so boost a venue’s revenues, often by a substantial amount. Don’t assume, however, that your team read that copy of the hospitality industry magazine left lying around the staff room! A smart manager knows that, in order to get staff working for positive customer reviews, they first need to be brought fully on board, and this starts with teaching them all about the importance of online feedback. One simple way of achieving this is to host a single training session for all the hotel staff, from the night porter right through to the head chef. Make clear the proven link between what’s written about a hotel on the internet and the number of reservations, both from repeat customers and new guests, it gets. Be sure to use statistics to argue the case. The leading review website TripAdvisor has a wealth of resources for hotels and other hospitality businesses explaining the importance of collecting customer feedback, so be sure to make full use of this and other data you can find through a quick online search.
Ensure managers lead by example
Staff are unlikely to make a concerted effort to work for good reviews if they don’t see their superiors upping their game and going the extra mile for some positive feedback. So, managers need to lead the way here and set a good example for the others to follow. One simple but effective way of doing this is ensuring managers always invite guests to share their thoughts. For instance, the duty manager should have a pile of comment invitation cards ready to hand out to guests that are checking out or even just coming from the a meal at the hotel restaurant. Seeing a manager actively inviting feedback from guests will inspire the rest of the team to follow suit, significantly increasing the number of (hopefully positive) reviews an establishment gets.
Provide motivation, and rewards!
Perhaps the most obvious way of getting staff to actively pursue customer feedback is to provide incentives for them to do so! The simplest way of doing this is, of course, providing them with a cash bonus or another type of reward for generating a glowing comment. Thankfully, most online travel comment sites allow the satisfied guest to state the date of their visit, meaning working out who was responsible for the happy experience is relatively straightforward. Consider establishing a league table, to be displayed in the staff room, charting how many positive reviews each employee can be credited with generating, though be wary of creating too much competition between members of the same team as this can lead to resentment and backfire spectacularly. Let staff use their initiative. Online feedback is still a relatively new phenomenon and as such, there’s no real fundamental rules for staff to stick to. In many ways, it’s still a process of trial and error, even if some things (TripAdvisor, for example) are likely to prove more useful than others. This means that you may want to give staff relatively free rein when it comes to working to get customer feedback. For instance, a team member may be especially useful with social media accounts, so consider tasking them with using Twitter or Facebook to give guests the ultimate experience. Similarly Instagram is becoming an increasingly popular tool in the hospitality industry, so perhaps task a team member with using stunning pictures to advise guests of local attractions, again making their stay more enjoyable, more memorable and more worth shouting about!
Be loud and proud about your achievements!
If staff can see that their hard work generating good reviews from guests is something that either an individual hotel or even a whole chain is proud of, they are more likely to carry on with their efforts to maintain this level of high praise. Announcing any major tourism industry awards on a hotel website, therefore, not only serves to highlight the quality of an establishment, it also shows guests that their comments are taken seriously, plus it shows staff just how important getting such positive words are for the business overall. Similarly, posting individual guest comments on the very front page of the hotel website further reinforces just how vitally important such feedback is in this day and age, plus, of course, this can have the advantage of encouraging an undecided traveller to choose your establishment over that of a rival.