To General Managers, there might be no more important data than hotel guest reviews. In the fiercely competitive world of hospitality, gathering, analyzing, and reacting to data can have a huge impact on not just a hotel’s bottom line, but its reputation as well. In an effort to help our peers compete, we here at ALICE interviewed some of New York City’s leading GMs on the importance of data as it relates to the running of their hotel.
This is part six of eight. You can download the full report here.
To General Managers, there might be no more important data than their guests’ reviews.
While this may not seem like data to most of us, reviews are the single metric that all of our hoteliers agreed on tracking. And it makes sense when you consider that ultimately, the goal of any hotel is to create an experience worthy of a return guest, and what better way to gauge success than to obsessively monitor guest evaluations?
But the impact of guest reviews doesn’t stop at helping GMs gauge their success.
- 95% of travelers report using travel reviews to make booking decisions,
- Travelers are four times more likely to choose a hotel with a higher review score, and
- 76% of travelers say they would be willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores,
it’s clear that reviews have a significant impact on future bookings.
The good news is hotels don’t have to reduce rates to incentivize guests.
The even better news is that improved reviews will lead to more (and deeper-pocketed) guests. But how can you improve your reviews? We interviewed our General Managers about the strategies that work for them:
Be proactive. While some managers wait until a guest leaves a negative review to try to resolve an issue, the GMs we spoke with all hope to anticipate any problems and fix them before they came up in a review. This means constantly checking in with their guests, often times more than once, starting at check-in, then again at departure and even following up on social media. “We don’t track complaints per se,” one of our hotel managers says, “but because we’re so proactive, we get very minimal complaints.”
Consider hiring a dedicated guest relations manager. Another hotel we spoke with takes their reviews so seriously that they created an entire department to focus solely on making sure their guests were happy. “To us, the most important thing is to figure out how everyone’s doing before they check out,” the hotel’s manager says. “We’ll even go door-to-door to check on how they’re doing, and whether there’s anything we can do better. We then focus mostly on the extremes, anyone who had a really fantastic stay or a really awful stay. With the positive ones, we encourage them to leave positive reviews, and will even give them a discount on their next booking. With the bad ones, we try to fix it before they get to TripAdvisor. We actually have a seasonal guest relations manager and when we have someone dedicated to it, we definitely see a huge bump in our scores.”
Check social media before issues escalate and make their way to TripAdvisor. One effective and easy trick is to monitor guests on social media. Often times, a guest will turn to Twitter or Yelp before their stay is even over, so one hotel told us that when they see that, they “make every effort to reach out to that guest, address their specific concerns, invite them back and do what it takes it to make it right. If the guest has a legitimate issue, we might make an adjustment to a restaurant or hotel bill to acknowledge that. But most times, a guest just wants to feel heard, and feel like you’re genuinely sorry.”
Spot the opportunity to improve a review, even when it’s already online. Lastly, when looking through guest reviews, most managers focus mostly on the extremes—the 2-star—and the 5-star reviews. However, one of our GMs explains why he believes the real potential lies in the middle reviews: “I look for the in-between reviews, the 3-stars. Those are the reviews I love. I try so hard to find them, and make sure to speak to that person and get to the bottom of what went wrong and then make the changes necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s all about getting the data from these guests and changing the operation to make it better for the future. The middle are most important because they’re just on the cusp. Each one represents an opportunity to take what we do every day to the next level and improve the operation as a whole.”