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How to respond to guest feedback in online reviews

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How to respond to guest feedback in online reviews

  1. 1. How to Respond to Guest Feedback in Online Reviews Part-1 Whether it’s an online review, a guest survey or a comment at checkout, your hotel’s response to feedback can have a significant impact on guest perceptions, guest behavior and the overall success of your hotel. If feedback is poorly managed, guests may not return to your hotel and may share their disappointment with others, affecting your hotel’s reputation and your ability to attract business. If feedback is well managed, guests will feel more positive about your hotel, which in turn will reduce negative reviews and increase positive reviews, helping to attract new and repeat business. In this guide we discuss managing feedback on three key channels: in person, on the telephone and electronic. We review best practices in responding to feedback on each channel, paying special attention to the most popular types of feedback today: guest surveys and online reviews. Whether you are new to hospitality or have been handling guest feedback for years, this article will help you to build the knowledge and confidence you need to respond effectively to all types of feedback in all formats. Why Respond to Guest Feedback? 1 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  2. 2. Responding to guest feedback is one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks that hoteliers face. And it’s not getting easier. More feedback than ever is being shared publicly on review sites and social media channels. It has never been more important for hotel employees - not just managers - to develop and fine-tune skills in responding effectively to all types of feedback. By responding to guest feedback, you have the opportunity to: • Thank guests • Show that you’re listening & you care • Change perceptions • Explain & reassure • Clear up misinformation • Reinforce the positive • Be accountable • Say how you’re following up Responses Generate Higher Ratings & More Booking Enquiries According to recent research from TripAdvisor, hotels have even more reasons to respond to online reviews: • Properties that don’t respond to reviews on TripAdvisor have an average rating of 3.81 out of 5.0. • Properties that respond to at least 40% of reviews on TripAdvisor have an average rating of 4.05 out of 5.0. • Properties that respond to at least 50% of reviews increase the likelihood of a booking inquiry on TripAdvisor by 24%. How to Respond to Guest Feedback in Online Reviews Part-II 2 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  3. 3. Key Steps to Managing Guest Complaints Whether a guest is at the front desk, on the telephone or on Facebook, there is a common approach to managing complaints effectively. When a guest is upset, you want to calm them down, get them thinking clearly and rationally, and turn their perceptions of you and your hotel from negative to positive. For best results, follow these steps: • Listen carefully to the feedback. Don’t interrupt, even if you have an immediate solution. Often people need to vent and will be calmer and more reasonable once they have done so. • Ask questions to ensure that you fully understand the problem. • Show empathy by putting yourself in the guest’s shoes. How would you feel if this happened to you? Traveling can be tiring and stressful, and hotels can be intimidating and confusing. Say, “I understand, and I’m here to help.” • Offer an apology. Simply saying “I’m sorry” can do wonders to calm a guest down. Even if your hotel isn’t directly at fault, you can express regret that the guest is disappointed or upset. If appropriate, provide a brief explanation - but no excuses. • Offer options. Rather than impose a solution that might not work for the guest, work together to find a solution. Offer a few options and ask the guest which they prefer. • Follow up. Once you agree on a solution, explain how you will follow up. Follow through on your promises, bring the matter to the attention of staff and management, and make a note on the guest’s profile. Later, follow up to make sure the guest is satisfied with the outcome Types of Guest Feedback Channels For hotels, there are three main types of guest feedback channels: in person, on the telephone and electronic. Each channel requires a different approach, using three types of communication. Guest Feedback Channels IN PERSON : Visual, Vocal & Verbal Communication, Appearance, Voice & Words ON PHONE : Vocal & Verbal Communication ,Voice & Words ELECTRONIC : Verbal Communication, Words Communication Cues 3 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  4. 4. When responding to feedback on any channel, it’s important to be aware of triggers. Triggers, or negative communication cues, are things an employee does or says to anger, irritate or frustrate the guest, thereby escalating a situation from bad to worse. As an employee, you have triggers too. Guests can say things to make you frustrated or upset. It’s important to be aware of your triggers and to work hard to remain calm, courteous and professional. Positive communication cues have the opposite effect of triggers. They are the things you do and say that calm guests down and get them thinking rationally. Positive communication cues convey to guests that their concerns are being heard and taken seriously and that you are trying to help them. How to Respond to Guest Feedback in Online Reviews Part-III Types of Communication Cues • Visual Communication Cues are things the guest sees: your appearance and physical environment. Visual triggers include personal appearance and behavior such as avoiding eye contact, clenching your jaw and folding your arms. They also include environmental factors like a messy appearance or a noisy setting. These triggers can indicate a lack of care and concern and can further upset the guest. • Instead, use positive visual communication cues to show that you’re listening and you care like eye contact, an open stance, nodding, a professional appearance and a quiet environment. • Vocal Communication Cues are things the guest hears: your voice and the activity around you. Vocal triggers include interrupting, sighing, speaking too fast or slow, speaking too softly or loudly, and background noise. Positive cues include speaking clearly, with a soothing and confident voice, and a quiet area with no distractions. • Verbal Communication Cues are things the guest hears or reads: your words. Verbal triggers include citing hotel policy, not addressing the issue and using phrases like “We can’t” and “You shouldn’t. These triggers can irritate guests and make them think you aren’t listening. Positive cues include saying “I’m sorry,” “I understand”, “I can” and “I’m here to help.” 4 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  5. 5. Communication Cues in Each Channel Feedback on the Telephone When managing feedback on the phone, the guest can’t see you, so you must rely on vocal and verbal communication cues to convey meaning. Your tone and choice of words are especially important. Feedback in Person When you receive feedback in person, you can draw on a combination of visual, vocal and verbal communication cues to convey care and concern to the guest. Your appearance, voice and words all work together to form the guest’s impression. Feedback via Print and Electronic Media In electronic media like email, online reviews and social media, as well as print media like letters, the guest can’t see or hear you, so you must rely solely on verbal communication to convey how you feel. Your choice of words is critical. How to Respond to Guest Feedback in Online Reviews Part-IV 5 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  6. 6. Guidelines for Responding to Guest Surveys Unlike online reviews, guest surveys solicit feedback directly from guests and are private dialogue between the guest and hotel staff. This calls for a bit of a different approach when responding. Respond quickly, ideally within 48 hours, especially if the survey contains negative feedback. This will help prevent negative online reviews. Strive to respond to all or most surveys, even if it’s just to thank the guest for the feedback. If you respond selectively, prioritize feedback that calls for an apology or an explanation, and don’t forget to acknowledge positive feedback too. • Be brief. Thank the guest, speak to the specifics of the feedback, offer a sincere apology if applicable, and say how you are following up. If feedback is mixed, acknowledge the positive first and then the negative. • Address the response from a senior manager to show how seriously your hotel takes guest feedback. Personalize it with name and title. • Maintain a positive and professional tone that reflects the personality of your hotel. • You may wish to ask the guest to share the feedback on TripAdvisor or another review site. ReviewPro’s Guest Survey Solution integrates this option directly into survey forms. Preventing Negative Feedback Of course, the best way to manage reputation is to prevent negative feedback in the first place. Do this by following these guidelines: • Manage expectations. To avoid disappointing guests, ensure that your hotel’s sales and marketing materials convey an accurate portrayal of the experience you provide. • Perform temperature checks. Rather than wait until checkout, train staff to perform temperature checks during the guest’s stay to ask guests how things are going. • Be on the alert. Train staff to recognize signs of trouble and take action. • Act quickly. Empower staff to resolve issues on property and prevent them from escalating to online complaints. • Beware of triggers. When handling complaints, avoid triggers that can provide the guest to become angry. Use positive communication cues to calm guests down and get them feeling positive about the hotel. 6 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com
  7. 7. Guidelines for Responding to Guest Surveys Unlike online reviews, guest surveys solicit feedback directly from guests and are private dialogue between the guest and hotel staff. This calls for a bit of a different approach when responding. Respond quickly, ideally within 48 hours, especially if the survey contains negative feedback. This will help prevent negative online reviews. Strive to respond to all or most surveys, even if it’s just to thank the guest for the feedback. If you respond selectively, prioritize feedback that calls for an apology or an explanation, and don’t forget to acknowledge positive feedback too. • Be brief. Thank the guest, speak to the specifics of the feedback, offer a sincere apology if applicable, and say how you are following up. If feedback is mixed, acknowledge the positive first and then the negative. • Address the response from a senior manager to show how seriously your hotel takes guest feedback. Personalize it with name and title. • Maintain a positive and professional tone that reflects the personality of your hotel. • You may wish to ask the guest to share the feedback on TripAdvisor or another review site. ReviewPro’s Guest Survey Solution integrates this option directly into survey forms. Preventing Negative Feedback Of course, the best way to manage reputation is to prevent negative feedback in the first place. Do this by following these guidelines: • Manage expectations. To avoid disappointing guests, ensure that your hotel’s sales and marketing materials convey an accurate portrayal of the experience you provide. • Perform temperature checks. Rather than wait until checkout, train staff to perform temperature checks during the guest’s stay to ask guests how things are going. • Be on the alert. Train staff to recognize signs of trouble and take action. • Act quickly. Empower staff to resolve issues on property and prevent them from escalating to online complaints. • Beware of triggers. When handling complaints, avoid triggers that can provide the guest to become angry. Use positive communication cues to calm guests down and get them feeling positive about the hotel. 6 Gajanan Shirke- Author www.gajananshirke.com

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