traveller looking at a hotel review on a laptop reflecting importance of reputation management and it's impact on driving hotel revenue

Hospitality has traditionally been a reactive service model. Guests shop for hotel stays, peruse reviews, secure a booking, attend their stay and depart with a review in mind. However, travelers have often been known to leave reviews mid-stay as issues or surprises challenge and delight them.

NB: This is an article from Northwind-Maestro

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Operators who fail to account for these guests are open to allowing negative reviews to color their property’s reputation, even if these sentiments can be addressed before guests leave. Operators can take a proactive stance using modern property-management systems (PMS) and do just that.

Integrated feedback tools have changed the game for hoteliers looking to respond to guest reviews. Instead of responding too little, too late, hotels can automatically be informed of new reviews as they appear and react in real time. This is of vital importance as guest expectations continue to rise. Leveraging service opportunities and anticipating guest needs significantly impact the guest experience, and guest sentiment tracking allows hotels to mitigate problems as they occur.

The hotel PMS has evolved to facilitate guest stays and delight travelers wherever possible. Operators should have access to a PMS capable of examining a guest’s historical travel decisions and remaining engaged with their needs. This is becoming more necessary as the guest journey develops more rapidly. To get a handle on these evolving trends, it’s first crucial for operators to acknowledge the key customer touchpoints that occur throughout a guest’s journey and what to do at each juncture.

The Art (and Science) of Guest Reviews

When hotels meet the gap between guest expectations and the reality of the guest experience, reviews will improve in quality and substance. Travelers rely on these reviews to set expectations, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits your property. As such, all guests should be encouraged to leave reviews, even if this practice leads to more negative reviews in the short term. Guest feedback is invaluable and provides a clear roadmap to improving hotel bookings and revenue over time.

Furthermore, while the content of guest reviews may be outside operators’ control, they can take command of the review cycle by adding a few actions to their strategic playbook.

Hotels can’t count on fulfilling every guest’s expectation on their first try, so instead, they should focus on mitigating their frustrations. Guests should have clear avenues for sharing their sentiments during their stay, such as a post-check-in text asking about their satisfaction. Should travelers encounter difficulties in the guestroom, such as malfunctioning air conditioning or an absent Wi-Fi connection, they should be able to share this information with hotels before they post it on social media. Funneling negative experiences directly to a hotel’s operations team allows them to convert negative experiences into positive ones, winning over guests rather than losing them to competitors.

Operators must have access to a PMS capable of managing SMS communications or integrated chat features, such as WhatsApp. These enable hoteliers to easily send comprehensive surveys to guests at various points throughout their stay, improving communication and consistency at all levels. Additionally, it’s important to remember this is the hospitality industry, and there is often nuance beyond the numbers in messages, such as how experiences make guests feel. These messages are invaluable and must be accounted for when performing a sentiment analysis.

First Contact

Hoteliers must contact guests long before they arrive on the property. A hotel’s PMS must be able to manage pre-arrival communications, manage check-in, and then provide onsite information. Following this, hotels must ensure a smooth check-out experience, followed by a post-stay follow-up and long-term monitoring for review scores. Understanding this broader guest communications cycle allows for more opportunities to interact with guests more often, earlier and over a more extended period.

Embracing this form of communication is a key component to success as the guest experience becomes more varied. Should travelers opt for mobile check-in and skip the front desk, operators can still contact them before, during, and after their stay. Additionally, these efforts help hoteliers identify gaps in their service delivery strategy to help them match guest perceptions. Throughout this process, hotels are also gathering new information on guests based on feedback and purchase decisions, as well as what they say about your property in real time.

Adopting a PMS capable of managing this level of detail has resulted in a proven uptick in guest feedback scores across the industry. As hoteliers improve guest sentiment onsite, it leads to more positive sentiment post-stay, fueling more targeted bookings in the future.

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