The judgment of travellers counts. Hardly anyone books a trip today without first checking online! Rating portals such as TripAdvisor, HolidayCheck or Zoover are among the biggest operators in this online market, with up to 17 million monthly visitors. Why? Because the feedback of like-minded tourists counts! They are on the whole considered genuine and comparable to our own situation. One thing is clear: guest reviews can have a strong influence on the decision that guests make when choosing where to stay.
But they do not just help the traveller! As an accommodation provider you can also benefit from this: positive guest feedback can be far-reaching and free advertising for your business. It allows you to see your offer from a different perspective – through the eyes of your guests. Online reviews show the strengths and weaknesses of your service package and you can learn from these reviews and adapt what you offer to guests. These review platforms can therefore replace the need for carrying our your own market research, or paying for these services from another company, which can be expensive.
It is therefore important as an accommodation provider to understand how best to deal with guest feedback – both for the positive reviews, as well as the inevitable negative ones.
Our tips for managing guest feedback:
- Determine who will be responsible: Who takes care of reviewing feedback about your accommodation business? Do you have a guest feedback form? Who looks after your accounts on the online guest feedback platforms, and your social media accounts? Who monitors these places? How often do they check for new reviews or feedback? Do you have a plan or procedure for responding to positive and negative feedback when it is received?
- Respond as soon as possible: Not only the reviews/feedback is read by visitors to these sites, but also the reactions of the accommodation providers to the comments, and how long it took for a response to be received. Does a host deal with guest feedback at all? Are suggestions for improvement taken seriously? Does the host talk about improvements being made to the accommodation or service offered? You should respond to the review/feedback in the shortest possible time! You will already be aware of the shorter length of time people are willing to wait, and the shorter patience they have for a response to queries or comments in everyday life. A timeframe of 24 to 48 hours is therefore a good recommendation for responding to customer reviews. One important thing to think about before posting an online response to guest feedback is always, “will I be behind this answer in 3 years?”, because it is wise to remember that the Internet does not forget!
- Show appreciation: If a guest bothers to post a review about your accommodation business, your staff, or the service received, they do it for a reason: either they are positively impressed, and would like to praise you, or they want to support you and encourage improvements. Both should be welcomed! That’s why you should always respond to guest feedback, talk to your guests about the content, thank them for their praise or suggestions for improvement.
How do I react to positive customer reviews?
Look forward to them! You have done something right, and have surprised or impressed your guest beyond their expectation. That’s a great achievement! Remember to celebrate together with your team – pass on the praise to your staff, after all, you all make a significant contribution to this!
- Appreciate and respond to positive feedback: Let your customers know that you appreciate their feedback by responding to it: either directly in the review portal, or if you have their contact details, you could send them an email or maybe even a short phone call.
- Think strategically: A guest who has given you a positive review or rating is more than likely someone who would want to stay with you again in the future. As a thank you for their feedback, offer them a little “goodie” – such as a bottle of wine in their room or a discretionary discount for their next booking.
- Communicate your strengths: getting positive reviews and feedback means that you have an offer that generates special enthusiasm from guests. So communicate this wherever you can on your other sales channels. For example, great reviews can be shared on social media platforms, or promoted on your website or newsletter campaigns.
What to do with negative customer reviews?
Of course you always would like positive feedback that affirms you and your hard work… But you can also use critical feedback to your advantage to learn from it and improve what you are offering to guests. Your guest can often point out things that you were not aware of in your role as host. So do not be upset with valid feedback, and try not to take it personally (yes, we understand this is hard sometimes). You should always ask if there is one thing that the guest could suggest that would help you to improve their stay.
Some things to think about when dealing with critical reviews or feedback online:
- Do not erase negative reviews (even if this is possible): Even if an escape strategy appears possible, and you think “nobody has seen it” – someone has always seen it (with the person who originally posted the review being the main one). The censorship of negative feedback can backfire. It can make it look like you want to avoid criticism and are not reflective. It gives a more professional impression to your (potential) guests if you deal constructively with negative reviews, and offer a genuine response to any criticisms. Responding to a dissatisfied guest with an appreciative dialogue is for the most part appreciated by other interested parties. This is also a form of positive and successful advertising!
- Sleep on it for one night: Upon receiving a negative or critical review, at first emotion can play a big part, and it can be hard to remain objective. Do yourself a favor and let a night pass before you respond – your perspective and reply is likely to be more measured.
- Change channels: If you can get in direct contact with the feedback provider by email or phone, take the opportunity to do so if possible, rather than publicly.
- We’re sorry! If you have actually made a mistake, then be sure to apologize. No human being, no company, no host is perfect – admitting a mistake makes you likeable and can quickly smooth out any issues that have been caused.
- Stay authentic: Be polite and factual. But do not use standard phrases from textbooks. Communicate in the same way as you would talk to your guests, creating authenticity.
- Offer help: Sometimes guests are just looking for your help. Can you provide a dissatisfied guest with more information or assistance? Then do it!
- Trust in the four-eyes principle: When you are personally involved, your writing can often lose objectivity. So if possible, have someone like a colleague or partner check your reply before posting it.
- Show boundaries: Guest service or not, one thing is clear – as a host you do not have to put up with absolutely everything. There is justified criticism, but unfortunately there will always be some customers who post inappropriate reviews, or just looking for a platform to get rid of their anger about something completely different. Then of course you are perfectly entitled to respond in an appropriate manner – remember to not go too far of course, as your reply will no doubt be read by other potential guests – and you don’t want to “go viral”!
Make changes visible
We all like to feel that our feedback has an effect. As soon as a guest rating has changed, you should communicate it! Take the opportunity to comment online and contact the guests directly to let them know. Guests value the appreciation and your business presents itself as willing to accept constructive feedback and improvement.
Happy guests thanks to JULIA from easybooking
Who helps you to make your guests happy? JULIA! During the enquiry stage she takes care of your potential guests as a virtual receptionist, and enables them enquire about your availability on your website within seconds. If a requested offer is no longer available, JULIA will automatically provide your guests with an alternative offer. JULIA politely contacts your guests shortly before their trip to wish them a safe and pleasant journey, including useful location and contact information. Following departure JULIA takes care of the final bill and sends a “thank you for staying with us email” to the guest, as well as the offer to rate their stay with you on whichever review platform you desire. So your guests feel completely taken care of. If they go on to rate you, JULIA’s all-round service may well be commended as part of this!
Would you like to see what JULIA can do for your accommodation business and to help with your guest communications? Then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information about our excellent easybooking products.