Hotel fines $500 for every bad review posted online, served some street justice by Reddit

Yelp-LogoA small hotel in Hudson, NY thought it would be a great idea to threaten wedding couples with a $500 fee for any negative reviews posted by their wedding attendees.  From the Page Six article:

A hotel in tony Hudson, NY, has found a novel way to keep negative reviews off Yelpand other sites — fine any grousing guests.

The Union Street Guest House, near Catskills estates built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, charges couples who book weddings at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

If you take down the nasty review, you’ll get your money back. Continue reading

JD Power: Hotel Satisfaction Reaches Record High

According to the newest JD Power rankings, hotel guest satisfaction has reached its highest level since 2006.  From the article:

The study, now in its 18th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; midscale full service; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees.

Overall satisfaction in 2014 averages 784 points on a 1000-point scale, up 27 points from 2012, with significant improvement in all segments except upper extended stay and extended stay, where satisfaction remains stable. The midscale segment posts the largest year-over-year improvement, increasing by 10 points to 801, which is the first time satisfaction in the segment has surpassed 800 points.

According to JD Power, here are the brands that scored the highest in each category:1 Luxury

  • Luxury: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Upper Upscale: Kimpton Hotels (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn
  • Midscale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a fourth consecutive year)
  • Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a ninth consecutive year)
  • Economy/Budget: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upper Extended Stay: Homewood Suites by Hilton (for a second consecutive year)
  • Extended Stay: Candlewood Suites

Continue reading

The Telepgraph – Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers’

blackmail-messageWe’ve heard a little chatter over the years about guests blackmailing hotels to remove negative reviews.  Our hoteliers from across the pond have been apparently experiencing the same problems.  From the Telegraph:

Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website, hospitality chiefs have warned.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. They say the guests often make a complaint and say they will post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert or a bill reduction.

Other “gastronomic blackmailers” even claim that they work for TripAdvisor and will post a series of negative comments unless they get free upgrades.

Hopefully a solution is on the way.  From the article:

Continue reading

Hotel Management: Strong occupancy and higher ADR lead to lower guest satisfaction?

MarketMetrixWEBGreat post today from hotelmanagment.net: the higher the ADR and occupancy, the lower your guest satisfaction scores will be.  From the article:

Global customer satisfaction with hospitality experiences continued to decline during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new data released by Market Metrix.  Customer satisfaction scores declined two tenths of a point in the Americas during the fourth quarter, and seven tenths of a point versus the same period a year ago. Scores also declined in Europe. Strengthening occupancy and higher prices during this period appear to be the likely reasons.

We easily spotted this trend starting in about 2008.  As soon as the economy struggled and hotel rates plummeted, guest satisfaction shot right up.  Many of the numbers reported by JD Power were record highs.  It turns out that people love a great deal.  From the article:

Continue reading

AAA Extends Five Diamond Honor to 6 Additional Hotels and 8 Restaurants for 2014

aaa-five-diamond-award

AAA’s new 2014 Diamond Ratings are now out.  This year, AAA added 14 additional hotels and 14 restaurants to their top rating.  However, AAA also downgraded 7 hotels from a Five-Diamond Rating to a Four-Diamond Rating.  There are currently 124 Five-Diamond Hotels in North America (only about .4 percent of all hotels).

Here are the new Five-Diamond Hotels:

  • Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
  • Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
  • Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada
  • Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Here are the new Five-Diamond Restaurants:

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
  • Acadia, Chicago, Ill.
  • Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
  • Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.
  • Per Se, New York, N.Y.
  • Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada
  • Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada
  • Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Congratulations to the new award winners!  About a year or so, we wrote an article detailing how much harder it would be in 2013 to pass the Five-Diamond certification.  Basically, you have to score a 78 percent now, compared to a 69 percent in the past.  From the AAA press release: Continue reading

USA Today: The hotel wake-up call gets personal

usatoday1

According to the USA Today, wake-up calls are making a comeback.  From the article:

Here’s a wake-up call: The hotel front desk will do one better than ringing your phone in the morning. They’ll send an actual human being to your room.  Don’t worry. They won’t come in and kiss you good morning. But they might bring you coffee.  Never mind that most travelers nowadays have Smartphones with built-in alarm clocks. Hoteliers say the human wake-up call is a way to personalize a guest’s stay.

We agree and have really grown to love a great, personalized wake-up call.  Quite a few TrueGuest hotels do an outstanding job of placing a timely call, anticipating our needs, and giving us key information like today’s weather and breakfast schedule.  Our iPhones can’t do that yet!  Here are a few other great examples from the article: Continue reading

HBR: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting

If you’ve worked in hospitality for more than about 2 days, you’ve probably already been yelled at by an angry guest.  Luckily Mark Goulston at the Harvard Business Review has some great tips.  Mark suggests asking a person who is venting the following three questions:

  1. Just ListenWhat are you most frustrated about? This is a good question because when you ask them about their feelings, it often sounds condescending. And if you start out focusing on their anger, it sounds as if you are coldly telling them to get a hold on themselves, which may work, but more often will just cause the pressure inside them to build up even more.
  2. What are you most angry about? This is where their emotional pus drains. Again let them finish and have them go deeper by asking them, “Say more about _________ .” Don’t take issue with them or get into a debate, just know that they really need to get this off their chest — and if you listen without interrupting them, while also inviting them to say even more, they will.
  3. What are you really worried about? This is like the blood that comes out of wound following the pus. It is as the core of their emotional wound. If you have listened and not taken issue with their frustration and anger, they will speak to you about what they’re really worried about.

Mark has a great book out called “Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone”

Source:  Harvard Business Review Article

Book:  Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

Ask TrueGuest: When Should Employees Introduce Themselves by Name to Guests?

hello-my-name-isDear TrueGuest,

We are striving to become a TrueGuest Hotel but are struggling to get our team to introduce themselves to guests.  In what situations should we require our team to introduce themselves?  

Great question, thanks!  This is one area where hotels often have a difficult time teaching their employees to become comfortable with introductions.  Here are the situations that we like to see employees provide an introduction:

  1. When the guest first arrives at the hotel, the very first employee the guest sees should welcome the guest and introduce themselves.  In most cases, the first employee a guest encounters is the doorman or valet attendant who greets them at the car.  It is very critical for that employee to come over, open the door, and greet the guest with a welcoming smile.  Then it is easy to work an introduction into the conversation.  You can simply say ‘welcome to our resort, my name is John and I will help get you settled into the hotel’.  This introduction is important because John is going to need to obtain the guest’s name to pass along to the GSA.
  2. During any interaction that will last longer than a minute or two or where follow up may be required.  For instance, if you are a Concierge, you should introduce yourself and obtain the guest’s name immediately since you will most likely be working on a task that requires follow up.  Bellman who help upon arrival should always give a good introduction since they will be spending quite a bit of time telling the guest about the hotel amenities on the way to the room.  Restaurant servers and bartenders should also give an introduction during the start of their service. Continue reading

Ask TrueGuest: How to I Improve Our Handling of Housekeeping and Engineering Requests?

ignoreDear TrueGuest,

Our comment card scores have shown that we are really lacking in follow through on guest requests.  Do you have any tips to help us get back on top?

You have come to the right place for this question.  We actually have not really address guest requests in quite a long time, not since this post.  The handling of guest requests can be a simple procedure, but things can go horribly wrong if the proper procedures are not in place.  Here are our keys:

Tips for taking a guest request:

  1. Have a log system in place.  It doesn’t matter if you have an old fashioned paper log or are using a complicated computer tracking system.  Both can be very effective.  About 30 percent of guest requests are not handled due to lack of follow up.  GSAs take a request over the phone.  Next thing you know 3 guests arrive to check in before he writes the request down and the request is forgotten.  Get a good log!
  2. Find out exactly what the guest expects during the request.  The guest may be reporting that the shower in their room is not working properly.  Maybe they need the shower fixed right now so they can get ready for a meeting.  Maybe they already showered and would like it fixed after they check out so they are not disturbed.  Be sure to ask the right questions to find out exactly what is expected.
  3. Quote a time for handling the request.  A simple guest request should be no longer than 10 minutes.  If a guest is calling because their TV is not working or they are out of towels, they probably need assistance right away.  Make the guest feel at ease by saying ‘I will have someone up to your room to help within the next 10 minutes.’
  4. Repeat the request back to the guest before ending the call.  This one is often overlooked.  If they guest is requesting towels, let them know that you are sending 2 bath towels and 2 hand towels.  They can then correct you if you misunderstood their request.

Tips for handling the guest request:   Continue reading

AAA Adds 9 New 5 Diamond Hotels for 2013

For 2013, nine more hotels achieved the prestigious honor of AAA’s top level, Five Diamond.  A total of 125 hotels and 53 restaurants in North America are now AAA Five Diamond certified.  That is only .3 percent of the total 59,000 rated AAA hotels and restaurants!  From the AAA press release:

aaa-five-diamond-awardThe path to a Five Diamond Rating is rigorous. Properties identified by AAA as potential candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations by a AAA inspector and final decision by a panel of experts. In addition to the evaluation of physical attributes, potential Five Diamond establishments are subject to thorough onsite assessments of all guest services from the initial reservation through checkout for hotels and from seating to  presentation for restaurants. Each area is evaluated based on level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

 

Here is a list of the new AAA Approved Five Diamond Hotels and Restaurants:

Continue reading