How to Respond to Online Reviews

Dana Barker | Contributing blogger

You’ve been asked to handle the responses to reviews for your hotel. You’re seen as the person on staff who is the most social media savvy, so you are the obvious choice. Right? Perhaps. But being a consumer of social media doesn’t always lead to success when managing feedback on online channels. In my experience with our iResponze customers, they are enthusiastic about striking the right tone in responses but have many questions about what to say and what to do with the feedback. Here are my top five actions to take when responding to online reviews.

 1. Always say thank you

No matter how disappointed, angry, or downright rude a reviewer is, say thank you for the feedback. This seems simple, but coming across as sincere can be challenging. The best way to do so is to vary the language you use for thanking guests in your responses. If your potential guests see that every response begins with, “Thank you for your feedback on your stay,” they will know that you are on auto-pilot with your responses.

2. Keep it brief

Absolutely keep your response to the point. You do not need to explain in detail the resolution that you are taking – it is more important to inspire confidence that you will take action. Rather than talk about a training program that you have in place that may not have been used, assure your guest that you brought this issue to the attention of the individual who can ensure that proper training is in place.

3. Proofread and proofread again

It seems a bit silly, but having grammatical errors or misspellings will make your response seem less credible. Ask someone else to review your response before you post it, especially if you are responding to several at one time. Your ability to see what is written versus what you meant to write is diminished the more times you see the same content.

4. Tailor to details in review

Vary your language for each response and make sure you respond to the details of the review. Try to be as specific as possible, which lets guests know that you are paying attention. The last impression you want to give is that you have a “one size fits all” response. Each review deserves specific attention, just as each guest in your hotel deserves personal attention.

5. Alert the GM when relevant

The GM probably does not want to know every time someone complains about the parking, but the GM should know if a guest raises a serious problem or you spot a recurring theme. If the issue relates to any of the following, alert the GM immediately: liability to the hotel, unresolved security issues, bed bugs (not other insects), or doubtful reviews.

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While many hotels can manage responding in a timely manner that meets brand or industry standards, it can be challenging to stay current.

At iResponze, we know that responding to reviews requires consistent attention and a strategy for developing and maintaining your hotel’s personality. We have helped many clients meet the challenge, and we have learned a lot about how to be successful with your current and future guests. If you apply the action items listed above, you can meet the challenges of responding. Of course, we would welcome the opportunity to show how we can meet the challenge for you and your staff, leaving all of you more time to interact with the guests in front of you.

 

Dana Barker, Client Engagement Team Director at iResponze, helps hotels establish the distinctive voice for responding to online reviews. Leading a team of responders, Dana has mastered the art of striking the right tone for each hotel. iResponze® partners with hotels by responding to online reviews on their behalf. This collaboration allows staff to focus on what they do best – delivering exceptional guest experiences.

 

 

Managing Your Online Reputation

Jill Ellis | Contributing Blogger

In just two years with a startup, I feel like I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons.  This seems to be a recurring theme with other entrepreneurs, and although I was fortunate to work with many successful entrepreneurs in the hotel industry, I didn’t understand what they faced until I was on the inside of a startup. In a short period, I have experienced how to approach the unknowns, how to learn on the run, and how to respond and adjust course in real time. I find it hard to think of operating any other way now, and I’ve come to understand that on a daily basis, hotels face the same opportunity to listen, respond and react to feedback, which their guests are sharing more and more frequently.

Your guests are talking about you – not necessarily in person but in online reviews – and what they’re writing makes an impact on your hotel’s revenues. Online reviews do impact purchase decisions. Any number of resources confirm that your guests are looking for confirmation of everything from hotel selection to clothing choices. While you cannot control that conversation, you can control how your hotel is perceived and maximize your influence on selection and purchase.

Here are three ways responding to reviews can improve your hotel’s guest loyalty and satisfaction.

Continue reading “Managing Your Online Reputation”

Budgeting for Online Reputation Management

shutterstock_154870316_medLately here at iResponze® we’ve been talking about wish lists. It seems every celebration during this traditional wedding and graduation season warrants an online/in-store wish list, a registry of all the items a grad or young couple “needs.” Which led us to talk about how ideas of need, these wish lists, are really about the visions people are creating for how they want to live.

All of this wish list discussing led us to consider the impending budget season facing you in your hotels. Wouldn’t you like to create a wish list for your hotel’s vision, forward it to your CFO, and wait for the goodies to arrive? We know that’s not how it works, but you can still adopt the concept of building your wish list first. If you start by considering what tools and resources you believe you need in your hotel, then prioritize by how they would achieve goals, what would rise to the top? We suggest you position guest-focused resources as high on the wish list as you can. Because without guests, you won’t need new bedding, additional staff or more marketing dollars.

Eyes on reviews

Your guests have so many paths to find your hotel – with new ones popping up every week. This growth of online visibility has created an entirely new avenue for guest service – online reputation management. And if you have not yet investigated how to manage your online reviews, we suggest you do so quickly because your guests are using them to make choices.

  • A study by Medallia, released in March 2015, reported that hotels responding to more than 50% of social media reviews grow occupancy rates at more than twice the rate of hotels ignoring reviews.
  • The same study reported that responding to more than 50% of reviews correlates with 6.8 percentage points of growth in occupancy rates.
  • Plus, hotels that responded to feedback in less than a day boasted occupancy rates 12.8% higher than properties taking two days to respond.

If responding to your reviews is not a priority, you are definitely sacrificing both repeat and new visits to your hotel.

Eyes on competition

Beyond your guests, your competitors are ramping up their investments in online reputation management. According to TripAdvisor research, for 2016,

  • 93% of hoteliers said online traveller reviews are important for the future of their business and online reputation management would be the biggest area of investment
  • 59% would be investing more in this area than in the previous year.

Does your wish list include resources for enhanced online review response management? We’ve heard from our clients that adding personnel to handle this high-impact part of your business is a tough sell to your CFO. But an affordable resource, such as iResponze, could be an option your CFO would welcome.

Welcome to your next guest opportunity

As well-traveled social butterflies ourselves, we know it is critical to be responsive to reviews, definitely all of the bad ones and usually some of the good ones. Guests are not just looking at ratings. They’re digging deep into what your previous guests complimented or complained about. They understand that sometimes an item is missed in the housekeeping process, but they don’t want to see these oversights mentioned by multiple guests. They want to see well-maintained guest rooms – and to be frank, they don’t care about your budget issues to repair the carpet or paint the hallways. They want to see that your guests were heard and that their concerns have been addressed. They want to hear your hotel’s “voice” in your review responses. iResponze does all of this for hotels without requiring additional personnel at the hotel. Sounds like a high-priority, wish list item that delivers on your guest promises.

Will online response management be on your hotel’s wish list for 2017? Where will your hotel place its budget priorities?

iResponze® partners with hotels by responding to online reviews on their behalf. This collaboration allows staff to focus on what they do best – deliver exceptional guest experiences.