What Guarantees a Bad Hotel Review? – And, How to Avoid It!
We are living in a digital age where recommendations and reviews spread instantly and like wildfire. Hotel booking sites operate independent review structures that allow guests to easily rate their hotel stay with a few short clicks of a mouse. Social media also plays an important role with companies finding themselves in a position where feedback can be given in a public domain and be posted directly on the business page.
With guests becoming more and more tech savvy as well as sophisticated with their expectations about how a business should treat them, reviews are being left openly and in a volume that was previously unheard of. Reviews about a company can make or break a business and although consistent negative reviews are extremely damaging to a company’s reputation, a single terrible review can prevent people from staying with you.
We look at 3 key areas that hotels fail on and how to avoid falling into the trappings that can leave your hotel exposed to derogatory feedback. We also give you a simple and effective way of dealing with negative feedback to ensure that even if the worst does happen, you respond in an appropriate manner that promotes your hotel.
When your guest is booking a room at your hotel they are paying with the anticipation that they will have a home away from home for the duration of their stay. If your hotel is busy it can be extremely difficult to take the time and pay the care and attention that is needed to ensure that every room is cleaned to a high standard. But, it is absolutely vital that rooms are cleaned thoroughly before the next guest opens that room door.
Cleaning goes a lot further than just room maintenance, communal areas should also be kept to a high standard, guests are extremely thorough when they check both the rooms and the hotel, so you will need a robust cleaning regime in place. It goes without saying that all linens should be laundered, carpets vacuumed and toilet/wash facilities scrubbed down. Don’t neglect other aspects of the cleaning regime though; are all surfaces dusted? Does the room have a fresh aroma? Are the ventilation systems clean or are they going to expel dust as soon as the air conditioning is switched on? Have your cleaning staff open windows for the duration of the clean to get natural air circulating?
At hoteliga, a property management software that has a fully interactive housekeeping functionality that operates in real time, allowing you to effectively manage your hotel’s cleaning regime and not worry about things being missed along the way.
If you get cleaning and hygiene wrong, don’t be at all surprised to find reviews with every detail, remember most smartphones have cameras attached, your guest has that in the palm of their hands and accessible at all times to show the world visually where you went wrong.
Politeness & Hospitality
If you look at your competition on booking.com and read through their reviews, you will notice a key topic of courtesy crops up consistently. Guests want to be treated well at every junction of their stay. That means you need to ensure that your hotel staff are treating each customer like royalty.
Hotel staff are frequently overworked, underpaid and lacking in motivation so it is important that as the hotel owner or hotel manager you are adopting practices at the core of your business to make your staff feel relaxed, positive and welcoming to your guests. Your hotel staff are very literally on the front line of your business, make sure they have sensible shift patterns with plenty of rest in between, have a fair pay packet and that you have team meetings before business each to enthuse and generate a sense of comradery.
When comparing your competition to your own hotel you may be surprised that properties that are not as good as yours or as well managed as yours are generating 5-star reviews consistently. A lot of this is down to the emotional perceptions of their guests. In short, a guest is more likely to overlook negative aspects about a hotel if they feel like they have been treated really well by the staff. This is an emotive and human response where a guest is less likely to leave detrimental comments if they feel like they struck up a great rapport with the staff.
Using your property management system to track the KPIs of your staff will give you an insight into how things can be improved and reward staff members that go the extra mile to make your guests feel special. It is those staff members that are likely generating you a lot of income because guests are leaving positive feedback as a result of interactions they have had with them.
Never Overpromise and Underdeliver
Many hotels make sweeping statements about picturesque views, luxury and spacious accommodation and 5* service. Often the rates for these rooms are charged at a premium rate. That means from the moment the guest makes the booking they are at a very high level of expectation. When it comes to the guest staying there, unless the statements ring true the experience is downhill from there.
The important thing to remember when marketing your hotel is that it should be an accurate reflection of the hotel. Rates should be reflective of the class of accommodation and although it is absolutely fine to talk up the hotels great features it is very important to do this in an honest way.
This means that guests will feel like they have a good idea about what to expect, have paid a rate that reflects good value for money and will be less likely to check-in expecting a champagne service (unless of course you provide one).
Guests that leave the worst reviews often feel misled by the advertising or that the hotel wasn’t good value for money.
Dealing with a Negative Review
There is no such thing as a perfect hotel, it is inevitable that at some point you will receive a bad review. The saying goes that you can’t please all the people all the time and this is definitely true in the hotel industry. Some of the best hotel experiences we have experienced have also had some scathing reviews.
It is important to deal with a negative review quickly and professionally. Most review websites or review systems allow businesses to respond to feedback. In the event you get given a negative review in the first instance you should read it and listen to what the guest is saying. Is this a one of problem? Has this pattern been developing over time? Try and put yourself in the shoes of the guest and take your hotel manager hat off. When responding you should first thank the client for leaving feedback as it allows your business to address areas that can be improved. Then answer each point made in the review so the guest and (more importantly) potential guests can see that you paid attention.
If the critique is about the food for example; then make sure you are responding about that guests experience. Something along the lines of “we are sorry that the service wasn’t to your expectation, this has been fed back to the dining staff and although we have many wonderful reviews about our food it appears on this occasion we fell short.”
This singles out the experience of the guest as a one off rather than the norm. It also clearly shows a hotel that cares about how service is delivered to guests.
Finally offer to make amends in some way, normally a discounted room rate on their next booking with an offer to demonstrate a better level of service will completely assuage any fears of future guests. What’s more, if that guest books again it shows that they themselves feel valued and are likely to leave a much better review next time and maybe remove their negative review.
Deal with negative reviews in a professional and friendly manner. Also, if you have great reviews be sure to reply to those as well to highlight wonderful experiences guests are having.