Online reviews have changed the way businesses operate from stores to restaurants, to hotels. Almost every industry that provides a service needs to pay close attention to its online presence. Online review platforms allow consumers to give honest feedback about their experiences, good or bad.
If you’re a hotelier, don’t turn a blind eye to your online reputation. You can bounce back from a few negative reviews if you take what the reviews are saying and use that feedback to improve the guest experience. However, without intervention, consistent negative reviews will damage your reputation and result in fewer bookings over time.
Why Is Guest Conflict Resolution So Important?
Guests may leave negative reviews for several reasons, some of which won’t be in the hotel management’s control. For example, some guests may have extremely high expectations resulting in feeling “let down” by an otherwise perfectly accommodating hotel stay.
However, in many instances, there is quantifiable reasoning for negative reviews. Perhaps the room was not ready when they arrived. Or maybe they were unable to locate a staff member for help when they needed it. Perhaps the room wasn’t cleaned to proper standards. Whatever the reason, it’s important to listen to this feedback and use it to improve right away.
How to Manage Negative Feedback
A big piece of successfully managing your online reputation as a hotel is being competent in receiving and managing negative feedback. Of course, no hotelier wants to hear that their hotel is providing subpar services or rooms. However, the only way to become a top-tier hotel is to take that negative feedback and mitigate these concerns quickly.
Whenever possible, mitigate the guest’s concerns before they have a chance to write an online review. If a guest reports that their linens look dirty during their stay, assign a housekeeper to immediately change all linens and issue a sincere apology.
However, some guests may not be vocal about their concerns or disappointments during their stay. The goal then becomes to eliminate as many potential frustrations as possible or concerns a guest may have on the property, to limit the likelihood of negative reviews.
Online Reputation Management Responsibilities
To properly manage your online reputation, you should take ownership of controllable factors on your property that are contributing to a subpar guest experience. Also, you can use technology to your advantage, such as PMS technology, which helps you anticipate guest needs and provide a better experience from the start.
Anticipate Guest Expectations and Needs
The best way to avoid negative reviews is to understand your guest’s needs so intimately that their experience is tailored to their specific situation. However, hoteliers may struggle with this because they invite lots of guests per day into their property, and without the right tools, it can feel impossible to provide a personalized experience for every guest.
Using hospitality management software (otherwise known as PMS) can help hotel staff personalize every single guest’s experience – without extra legwork or headaches. PMS software centralizes all pertinent information each day, including upcoming check-ins, guest and group information, housekeeping progress in each room, and more.
The benefits of PMS when managing guests can’t be understated. Your front desk staff will be able to locate each reservation for the day on their dashboard. They can see the incoming guests’ names, special requests, and anticipated check-in times. Small touches, like greeting a guest with their name as they walk through the front door, do not go unnoticed by your patrons.
Better yet, with cloud-based PMS software, housekeeping staff can mark which rooms have been cleaned, and it shows through to the front desk in real-time. When a guest arrives early and asks the front desk, “Hey, could my room be ready early?”, your staff knows if the guest’s room is cleaned and can move it up on the priority list, right from their computer screen. Being able to reprioritize housekeeping in such a way makes guests feel taken care of.
Plus, PMS software holds information about the guest such as accommodations or the occasion. Your hospitality employees can browse through these notes ahead of time and plan to make these occasions more special for the guest. For example, if one person’s online reservation says they are celebrating a birthday, perhaps a complimentary bottle of champagne or a cake is in order. Guests will be ‘wow-ed’ with how much effort your employees put in!
PMS software is enabling these special experiences. Hospitality management software makes it easy for staff to prepare for check-ins, make special accommodations, and ready the rooms ahead of time. This not only enables a wonderful experience for the guest but makes organizing workflows and to-do lists much easier for on-site staff.
Implement Easier Processes for Guest
A lot of times, guests get frustrated during times of transition at a hotel, such as during check-in or check-out. They may feel angered by being asked to wait in a long line or being asked to fill out lots of billing information at the end of a long trip. Cloud-based hospitality software can ease a lot of these frustrations by creating faster and easier processes.
A cloud-based PMS allows integrative functions for check-in and check-out. For example, guests could make use of mobile check-in where they simply click a few buttons on their smart device and are checked into their room in a matter of minutes.
You may have many vendors in your hotels such as restaurants, bars, or shops. Cloud-based property management software can integrate all POS systems so that all purchases are lumped onto one invoice at the end of the guest’s stay. This way, guests don’t have to pay separate bills each time they want to grab a drink at the patio bar – and they get a comprehensive single invoice on their way out the door. PMS software can also allow guests to easily split bills with others in their party, get email receipts of hotel fares, and have easy access to invoices for corporate expenditures.
By implementing technology to reduce friction where it commonly occurs, such as during check-in or check-out, hoteliers can provide a much more pleasant guest experience from the very moment someone steps into the lobby. Avoiding moments of confusion, frustration, and friction will lead to fewer potential negative online reviews.
Invest in Your Staff’s Training
Your on-site hospitality team is your first defence against negative online reviews. They are the face of your hotel and have the potential to make or break the guest experience. When guests come to your staff with concerns, complaints, or frustrations – your staff should be well versed in the appropriate way to handle them.
Staff needs to be trained on how to de-escalate, find proper solutions for common issues, and draw the boundary line with angry guests. However, it takes a lot of time to train staff on all the unique situations they may encounter. Hospitality staff may be undertrained because training is time-consuming, and the hotel industry requires staff to be on their feet and engage with patrons for most of the day. It can be hard to find time to pull them away for long blocks of training.
PMS software can help with training, too. With the use of a cloud-based property management system, staff can access training modules from their phone, laptop, or tablet. They can choose to work through the training at their own pace. If they start a module, and a guest walks up and asks a question, staff can pause the module and attend to the guest. Then, they can return to where they left off with training. This even allows staff to train from the comfort of their home if they can’t find time to do so during the workday!
Your hotel’s online reputation has never been more important. It can work to your advantage, garnering you more bookings based on positive reviews. Conversely, it can hurt your hotel’s business if negative reviews are associated with your hotel. By using tools and techniques, such as PMS technology, you can optimize the guest experience to decrease the likelihood of negative reviews online.