One of the most critical pieces to climbing your market’s reputation rankings hinges on generating positive reviews and online feedback. We can identify clues in a guest’s stay to improve review rating.
NB: This is an article from Travel Media Group
For this example, we are going to use the children’s game chutes and ladders to illustrate how traveler sentiment can fluctuate up and down as they move through the guest experience at a property.
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Your Hotel Experience
- Front Desk Staff – The first interaction between guest and hotel is during check-in at the front desk. In this scenario, as the guest arrives, the experienced front desk staff is extremely friendly, helpful, and sets the stage for an enjoyable stay at the property. They answer all questions and share some of the added cleanliness protocols implemented by the property since the start of the pandemic.
- Room Amenities – As the guest continues their experience, they head toward their room. Settling in, they are disappointed that several items in the room – they feel – are missing: the coffee maker, microwave, and TV channel list.
- Cleanliness – Exploring the rest of the room and amenities the guest is extremely impressed with the cleanliness of the property and even recognize some of the safety initiatives that the front desk staff mentioned at check-in, like mask-wearing in public areas, hand sanitizing stations, and social distancing reminders and floor markers.
- Sleep Quality – As the day winds down, the guest heads back to their room and enjoys a good night’s rest with little noise and a comfortable bed.
- Breakfast – The next morning, the traveler heads down to the hotel lobby to check out and depart. They are disappointed to see the property is only offering a cold, grab-n-go breakfast with very little variety.
Ultimately, this traveler leaves the property a neutral three-star review on TripAdvisor. Travelers’ expectations today – especially post COVID-19 – are higher than ever in the history of the hotel industry. Like climbing an actual ladder, it is tougher to impress and satisfy your customer, yet one little slip in your hotel experience and your guest is sliding down the rating scale, making it incredibly more difficult to improve your overall score. That is why having a professional reputation management program and strategy in place is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity.
Improving Your Hotel Experience
This time with the help of Travel Media Group’s sentiment analysis and data provided through its Respond & Resolve™ solution, we were able to alert the property of a trend featuring both room amenities and breakfast that were negatively impacting the guest experience at the property, therefore negatively affecting its online review ratings and score. Armed with this knowledge, let’s review another set of travelers staying with the property and observe the changes implemented by the hotel staff to improve the guest experience.
So as the travelers arrive, the same friendly, experienced front desk staff greets and checks in the guests. This time, along with the cleanliness protocols, the front desk also informs the travelers that several “high touch” items including the coffee maker, microwave, and physical channel list have been removed from the guest room for the health and safety of guests and personnel. They suggest creative alternatives like ordering a coffee or food delivery from the cafe next door and using a QR code in the room to unlock a channel list on their phone.
The staff has also been sure to include these changes in their online review responses to educate future guests of these unique changes. Now is every guest going to be satisfied with these changes? Of course not; but as you can see, the giant chute from the previous experience has shortened dramatically. If you are able to maintain the standard of other aspects of the hotel experience like cleanliness and sleep quality positively consistent, your rating organically rises.
Finally, the travelers head down to the lobby for breakfast – another part of the guest experience that was identified as a potential issue with a negative impact on review rating. To combat and correct this, the hotel partnered with a local breakfast cafe for free delivery and discounted hot breakfast items for guests looking for something more than the grab-n-go breakfast provided. Again: not pleasing every guest, but significantly lessening the blow to its overall review rating.
So instead of the neutral 3-star rating from last time, the creative changes implemented at the property led this set of travelers to rate their experience at the same hotel at 4.5-stars. This improves its overall score and puts the property in a better position to increase their city rank on TripAdvisor.
Your Hotel Experience Moving Forward
Eventually, if the property keeps adapting its hotel based on what guests are saying online and tracking sentiment data, the hotel can optimize its guest experience. The vast majority of guests will be having a 5-star stay at the property, improving online reputation and beating out local competition for bookings.
However, the five aspects of the travel experience that we just reviewed only represent a fraction of everything that your guest encounters while on property. Any element of your hotel experience could currently be acting as either a chute or ladder in the mind of a guest, impacting their score of your property.
Without a tool organizing and analyzing this sentiment data, it could be nearly impossible to get a clear picture of what issues are costing your hotel better reviews – and ultimately revenue. That is what we are able to provide our hotel partners at Travel Media Group.
We’re at the starting line of a brand new year; 2020 has taught us a lot about our industry and the resilience of hoteliers. As we continue down the path of recovery, online reputation will play a major role in determining the pace of that recovery for individual hotels. Hoteliers need to have a strategy in place for their hotel’s reputation, just as they do for their inventory or rates.