Interview with RJ Friedlander, CEO & founder of ReviewPro on online reputation. Originally published in Quality Matters Magazine
How online reputation affects hospitality
“I believe that online reputation is at the core of success in today’s digital world. And nowhere more so than in the hospitality industry, where potential guests read reviews before deciding on a place to stay, both for personal and business travel. Management responses are hugely valuable not only to the guest that wrote the review, but also to people looking to book in the future.
Responses need to show empathy, have a human tone and above all not appear to be ‘canned’. Acknowledge if there has been a problem, offer a solution or show how the problem will be solved, and confirm that it will not happen again.
Responding to reviews shows that your establishment is listening, cares about the issues that have negatively impacted guest experiences and that you are open to suggestions to improve. I recommend that hoteliers respond to 100 per cent of negative reviews, and a selection of neutral and positive ones.
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Choosing the right response
Different social media platforms need to be managed with different levels of urgency. While they generally have little short-term impact on reservations or the brand, a negative review on an online travel agency site (OTA) should be responded to quickly. This shows a courtesy to the complainant and to the wider audience that you are proactive in addressing problems.
However, bad experiences shared on social platforms such as YouTube and Facebook (especially if accompanied by ‘incriminating’ photos) can have a devastating effect very quickly. They should be addressed with the highest level of urgency.
Getting ‘in-stay’ feedback
A final point. Guest feedback is a great resource for learning and improving. And while online reviews and post-stay surveys are valuable for identifying opportunities to make improvements, never underestimate the value of in-stay surveys. Capturing negative feedback while guests are still on property allows managers to do service recovery and show guests first-hand that the management team goes the extra mile to resolve their problems.
In today’s digital landscape this also means employing guest messaging as part of your strategy. Guest messaging is key to meeting guest expectations of immediacy today. Capturing feedback on site can have a profound effect on your rankings in on OTAs and TripAdvisor by turning what would have likely been a negative review into a positive one.”
About RJ Friedlander
RJ Friedlander is the founder and CEO of guest intelligence platform ReviewPro, a service that helps users benchmark their online reputation, monitor reviews, and analyse feedback to identify areas for improvement. He has more than 20 years of experience in internet and technology in Europe, the US, and Asia. RJ is a sought-after public speaker on topics such as big data analytics, customer acquisition and retention, raising capital, and online reputation and guest experience in the hotel industry.