A recent study conducted by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration confirms that online guest satisfaction has a direct impact on the financial performance of hotels. "The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance" report validates "a direct link between online customer satisfaction and a property's overall revenue performance." The study showed that "if a hotel increased its online review score by 1 point on a 5-point scale, the hotel can increase its price by 11.2 percent and still maintain the same occupancy or market share." Armed with this knowledge, hoteliers can immediately begin driving revenues while increasing loyalty, expanding their social media presence and improving their online reputations using the in-demand Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive.
Lodging Interactive is a leading interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The company's Guest Review System is a web-based tool that is successfully helping hotels verify, review and display customer comments directly on hotel websites. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving two-way hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. Based on the aforementioned Cornell research, hotels can also raise average daily rates and receive higher revenues per available room without any resistance from guests.
"Industry studies continue to show that travelers consider feedback from other travelers as valuable sources of information when researching and planning a trip, and many won't make a reservation until comments have been perused," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive founder and president. "Hotels that may have thought about adding a guest review program to their websites but didn't have the time or resources to manage it, should think again now that it has been proven that an interactive guest-review process has a direct impact on revenues. Being proactive when it comes to guest reviews, really does pay off."
With the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System, hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up. This eliminates delays in addressing concerns and turns potential problems into new opportunities. The system also puts a stop to fake reviews posted by competitors or dishonest guests looking for refunds, helping hotels to maintain their reputations. More importantly, directing guests to the hotel's website to post comments and reviews keeps them from being redirected to an OTA where they will never come back to book direct. Removing OTA's from the equation and taking ownership of the guest-communication process also keeps more revenues in owners' pockets. Additionally, hotels that don't have the staff or flexibility to respond in a timely manner can count on Lodging Interactive to manage the reply on their behalf.
"It's important to note that unlike the Lodging Interactive GRS, some third-party websites restrict hotels on what they can and cannot include when responding to a review," Vallauri said. "Here are five tips when responding to guest reviews:"
1. Respond immediately to a review post. Good or bad, a hotel needs to put its best foot forward; that means never issuing a "canned" response. Consumers read more than one review; make sure the response is fresh and appropriate. If possible, personalize the response by referring to the reviewer by his or her proper name and not a nickname. This is possible with the Lodging Interactive GRS, but not with many of the third-party sites. If a guest is not happy, apologize, then offer a resolution and always ask the customer to come back. For example, Lodging Interactive's GRS enables hoteliers to offer a solution to an issue by sharing a package that would have been better suited to their needs. For example, if parking fees were an issue, the hotel can offer a package with parking included for the next stay. This type of customization is restricted on many of the major review sites as well as in OTA review responses.
2. Provide contact information for ongoing communication. Managers should never sign comments as "Management," but instead provide the responder's name. This builds consumer confidence and shows guests that someone cares. With the Lodging Interactive GRS, responses can be signed by any member of the management team, not just the third-party site log-in account names (example: F&B Manager when replying to a catering issue).
3. Double check responses for content accuracy and don't use over-complicated words. A big vocabulary is not important to guests; sincerity is. Check spelling, especially the reviewer's name.
4. Be kind, never defensive. Remember: the customer is always right. Be hospitable and thank the reviewer for his or her comment, good and bad. A demeaning tone could scare away future guests for good.
5. Verify that the reviewer was actually a guest before posting the response. Knowing if a review is legitimate or not is a critical step in managing an online reputation. Lodging Interactive has the processes in place to validate the authenticity of all posted reviews.
No matter what, managers and staff should always take the time to ask guests about their stay. Always encourage guests to visit the hotel's website at their convenience and post a review. If there has been a problem, this will prompt the guest to inform management prior to leaving the property. If the attempt at a resolve fails and a negative review is still posted, management can restate their resolution offer, thereby protecting the hotel's reputation and showing other potential guests that good customer service is a top priority.
Rallying Reviews on Facebook
"Remember the 1980s Faberge Organic Shampoo commercial in which actress Heather Locklear said: 'It is so good, I told two friends about it...and they told two friends...and so on, and so on....'" Vallauri said. "Now advance 30 years. Thanks to the world wide web and social media, that same commercial could go like this: 'It was so good, I posted on Facebook, and my 200 friends told their two hundred friends and so on, and so on.....
"An added benefit of the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System is that it enables travelers to share their reviews on Facebook with their network of friends, opening up avenues to new booking audiences, and again, more revenues," Vallauri said. "Last month, Lodging Interactive created a Facebook Widget that links comments from the hotel's website to its Facebook page in real time. This enables potential guests to read guest reviews on Facebook and enables past guests to leave reviews directly on Facebook as well. Leveraging social media as a communications platform for guest reviews is a natural extension for Lodging Interactive's solution. Better yet, there is no additional cost to implement the Guest Review System on Facebook and our team will even handle the set up for the hotel.”
Hotels looking to boost revenue performance can do so easily and affordably by calling Lodging Interactive today and getting a demonstration of the Guest Review System. A video showing the value of a GRS for hospitality is available on YouTube by clicking here. For more information on the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System, visit www.guestreviewsystem.com.