Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

Good reviews are essential in the hospitality industry. What are your best practices for maintaining a great Net Promoter Score & successful reputation management? (Question proposed by Adele Gutman)

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Adele Gutman
Adele GutmanCulture and Guest Experience Expert, Hospitality Reputation Marketing Podcast

“When I was VP of a hotel collection, I made it my mission to focus on the guest experience so that we could have more guest loyalty, offer a higher perceived value, have higher occupancy, ADR, and profitability. We followed our GRI- Guest Review Index on ReviewPro who recognized us as having a GRI of 96.1(%), the highest of any luxury hotel brand in the industry. We also had the #1 hotel in World and the #1, #2, #3, and #4 ranked hotels in NYC, so I am writing a book on the subject, but here, in a nutshell, is the method in principle, which will work for anyone ready to commit to the effort! It took me 20 years to learn to get this far and I am still learning with input from my associates and inspiring fellow hospitality stars.

As a team, imagine the kind of reviews you want to receive and be the hotel team that inspires those kinds of reviews! Be true to the mission and let it guide all your actions and decisions.

Share an inspiring vision of hospitality with your team. Every traveller wants and deserves to be treated like a VIP when they travel. You don’t need to throw a parade for them, just sparkle a little sunshine on them to lift them up and make them feel welcome.
Make every guest feel CARE: Cared for, Appreciated, and Respected at Every encounter.

Ask your team to join you on a mission of caring, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Strive to hire people whose eyes light up at the mission, vision, and values of the company. Then, keep talking about the mission and how to apply it to their everyday actions during the daily huddles. Inspire them, tell stories of great hospitality and empower them with freedom from fear to do what they feel is right for guests, within reasonable parameters. Ask them every day to let you know what support they need from you to be more successful at making guests happy.

Owners, GMs, DOSMs, and all department leaders – It is time to face the truth about your experience and read your reviews every day. Not some end-of-the-month semantic analysis. For success, you need to feel the pain in your guests’ and employees’ voices to put your heart fully in the game, and you need to look at the complaints with equanimity in context to be able to serenely ask the right questions when looking for root causes and opportunities to modify/ iterate your communications, processes, mindsets, systems, and products. Remember it is never the employees’ fault. It was our job to give them the tools, skills, training, and inspiration to do the right thing, and we hired them, so don’t blame the staff or make them feel fear. That’s counterproductive. Just work together with them to find better options to try next time.

Find ways to double up on what people love, and make sure every guest has a VIP experience. You won’t get 5-Star reviews from “transactional” treatment that is merely “Polite and Professional”. People want to be wowed! “Wow” experiences come from generosity. “Sparkle sunshine” on the guest at every touchpoint. Keeping the Mission, vision, and values in mind, keep micro-innovating (tweaking) the guest journey every day.

Collaborate with your team to find the root causes of issues when they come up in reviews and find ways to innovate the guest experience to eliminate or at least reduce the friction point. What kills the joy of your guests is also killing the energy of your team. If you want to keep your guests and employees loyal, don’t just focus on the person in front of you. Leaders work with their teams to plan how to eliminate or diminish the friction point for every guest in the future.

Mixed reviews are an obstacle to revenue optimization, so follow your NPS, guest review ratings, and rankings on Tripadvisor right along with your financial KPIs on your for your monthly P&L meetings. Your scores are a reflection of your operational effectiveness, your culture, and they are a leading indicator of future financial success.

Share your 5-star reviews everywhere your staff can see them! Include your Tripadvisor rankings on your nightly reports and celebrate with your team every step along the journey to your goal of 100% guest satisfaction. No, you’ll never have perfect scores, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying! You’ll never know how far your team can go until you reach for the STARS!”

Susanne Williams
Susanne WilliamsPerformance and Revenue Director, Journey Hospitality

“Reviews are essential to hotels. You want the majority to be positive and glowing however sometimes the way you respond to a negative review can be just as powerful.

As a best practice, make sure you respond to every single review in a timely manner. Responses should be genuine and not too much of a cookie-cutter response. If you do get any negativity then take a practical approach and leave any emotion out of the response. Incentivising staff to encourage guests to leave reviews is a great way to boost the number of reviews you get and also having systems in place that easily manage all review platforms is also good best practice.

Guests still look up a hotel’s reputation and what people are saying about them on social media as well as TripAdvisor before committing to their booking so it needs to be at the forefront of your marketing and operational teams’ minds.”

Tamie Matthews
Tamie MatthewsRevenue, Sales & Marketing Consultant, RevenYou

“When working with a hotel to improve their review scores, I always start with education. Staff and owners need to understand that small improvements in average score lead to bigger increases in ADR.

Staff need to be educated on the cause and effect of what they do on a daily basis, how it affects customer sentiment and hence income. Income affects the number of staff that can be employed and the budget for hotel improvements. Reviews need to be shared with the whole team. Brainstorming sessions need to happen around how we can improve service and deliver more. Nothing will change unless the team take ownership of their role in improving scores.

Other tricks that work:

  1. Incentives for improved review scores
  2. KPIs for department managers
  3. Rotating who replies to reviews
  4. Sharing good reviews at team meetings
  5. Sharing with staff that there is a plan in place to action negative reviews
  6. Carrying through on said action plan

If staff can see change happening, they will become invested in delivering improved service.”

Daphne Beers
Daphne BeersOwner, Your-Q Hospitality Academy
  1. “Manage expectations of your service levels in advance. Make sure you know their expectations and explain to your guests what they can, but more importantly what they can NOT, expect! Be upfront.
  2. Underpromise and overdeliver
  3. Have clear goals (including an action plan) and a SLA
  4. Create ways of working to deliver consistent service and quality
  5. Train and develop your staff and empower / inspire them to make it happen
  6. ANSWER YOUR REVIEWS in a genuine and resourceful way (or hire an expert to do it for you and turn your reviews into revenue!)
  7. Celebrate successes”

Moriya Rockman
Moriya RockmanChief of Marketing, Smiling House Luxury Global

“Being in touch with your guests and encouraging them to leave a review is the most common way. Another way is to take a recommendation from a guest while they’re staying. Many hotels have dedicated apps that guests should use during their stay. These Apps are tracking the activities and facilities used, and can grab a review along the stay. At the end of the stay, the App can send a message to the guests, summarising their global experience and offering them to just confirm.

In the vacation rental industry, the reviews of the guests are linked to the platform where the booking was made. In many of them, reviews go to the Host, and rating the property under their management. This highlight creates a situation where hosts are fighting for their good reputation and taking reviews very seriously, by trying to prevent any bad review as soon as any problem arises. This link between hosts and properties should be considered in the Hotel space to create a larger circle of reputation, involving staff and management. A great review benefits all.”

Nicole Sideris
Nicole SiderisFounder & Prinicipal Consultant, X Hospitality

“In a time when Airbnb business is still a heavy driver, the way of doing business in hotels could be aligned to the Airbnb model. Airbnb typically want a response within 2 – 3 hours, whereas it is known that the hotel decision-makers are still traditionally respondent on a Monday – Friday basis. I feel that both enquiries and reviews must be responded to in a real-time environment within 3 hours. This maintains a healthy response rate which is a key score indicator. If a review is not responded to in a timely fashion it indicates that the hotel can not run on in a 24/7 environment which is becoming a requirement.”

Tim Kolman
Tim KolmanCommercial Strategy Expert

“Technology and be where your guests are! Knowing and using the same channels that your guests use can always help improve the guest experience and puts you in a position to proactively address service issues. Implementing technology like chatbots and social media monitoring can allow your hotel to communicate with your guests in the way they want to communicate, reducing opportunities for negative reviews. Internally, technology adaption can also improve workflows when dealing with a guest issue.

Gone are the days that the guest comes down to the front desk to log a complaint (say an HVAC issue). The desk agent logs the complaint and room number in the big red book behind the desk and proceeds to radio engineering via walkie talkie. Then (and this is a maybe) engineering will complete the necessary repairs, radio back to the desk that the task has been completed, the desk agent logs the repair in the big red book and communicates with the guest that the repair has been made. As the saying goes… “there’s an app for that!””

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized