If you have been following our blog for a while, you probably remember an article that we posted a little over a year ago on how to maintain your hotel’s internet reputation. In the article, we stressed how important it is to check out your hotel’s reviews on various websites like tripadvisor.com. We also praised tripadvisor for allowing hotels to recover guests by contacting them after they post a poor review and we suggested that you work to improve your tripadvisor rating.
It appears that many hotels have taken our advice to far and are now manipulating their tripadvisor ratings by posting fake reviews. Check out this terrific article by Jason Cochran titled ‘Is TripAdvisor.com One Big Joke?’ His article mentions that tripadvisor has had to place disclaimers on at least 92 hotel pages because they believe the hotels ‘may have attempted to manipulate our popularity index by interfering with the unbiased nature of our reviews’.
The authors provides some great tips for people to interpret user-review sites. One tip he has is ‘If a hotel’s managment consistently responds to negative reviews, take it as a promising sign that testifies to their attention to service’.
Continue maintaining your hotel’s internet reputation! But do it legitimately please!
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (12th place), Ritz-Carlton (5th), and JW Marriott (25th) all made the top 25 of BusinessWeek’s annual best companies for customer service. All three hotel brands received an ‘A’ on both Quality of Staff and Efficiency of Service. All three also scored about 50 percent on Definitely Would Recommend Brand. JW Marriott did the best on Will Definitely Repurchase by scoring 48 percent, a tremendous score for a hotel.
Other travel companies that made the list were Jetblue Airlines (19) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car (16).
For the new year, resolve to improve guest service throughout your property. We all know it will be tough year to hit budgets and to attract more business. A great, and cheap way to keep the business you already have is to make sure your guest service exceeds standards. A very simple way to do so is by making sure that your team is trained to say the right things to guests.
At a recent stay at a very fancy and expensive hotel, we ran into many issues. The issues ranged from very small to a very large one but regardless, it did not seem that the guest service team was properly trained to handle the problems that we encountered. Though they were able to fix the problems quickly and satisfactory, the guest service team was not empathetic or even apologetic at all. This made our mystery shopper feel very unimportant even though we had just paid over $400 for the night.
To see the effect of slight changes in your team’s words on your guest service, please read this article on the Hotel & Motel Management website.
The author, Doug Kennedy, provides great examples of what many of your associates currently say to guests and what they should say instead. It is a great way to improve your guest service without much cost! For example, Kennedy points out the dreaded way to greeting a lone-diner at a restaurant with, “Just One?”, making the diner feel even lonelier. He provides an excellent way to greet those guests by using, “Welcome to the restaurant are you ready to be seated?” The author also gives a few other great examples but leaves you to figure out how this concept can be applied to the many other areas of guest contact in your hotels. It is a great way to keep your current guests happy and have them continue to choose your hotel in the future without spending any money!
We are very fortunate to be able to stay at some of the top hotels, including some amazing five diamond properties. While your hotel may not have the staffing budget of a five diamond hotel, there are still plenty of service tips that everyone can learn from the five diamonds.
Here are some tips for providing five diamond service that does not cost much:
Teach all of your associates the phrase ‘my pleasure’: When a guest says ‘thank you’, associates at top properties always respond with ‘it is my pleasure’. Other properties respond with ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem’.
Every associate must be guest focused instead of task focused: At a three diamond hotel, a housekeeper held up the elevator that I was in to wait for her friend so they could go to lunch together. The next day at a five diamond, an engineer who happened to be walking near an elevator saw me walking down the hallway and automatically pressed the elevator button. The engineer was aware of my need as a guest. The housekeeper was only aware of her own need for a lunch break.
A while back, we published an article on how to properly use a guest’s name. Using a guest’s name is one of the biggest struggles for many properties. But now, there is no excuse. More and more businesses are recognizing the value of using a guest’s name and are training their associates on how to do it correctly.
Customer Service call banks have really improved. Call your phone company or your bank’s customer service line. They will probably use your name many, many times during the conversation. They will also try to up-sell you on additional services, but that is a different article!
The other day, my arteries were feeling a little less clogged than usual so I stopped by Jack In The Box for lunch. After I ordered, the cashier asked me my first name. She then wrote it on the ticket. A few minutes later when my order was ready, they called out my name instead of ‘order number 196, ultimate cheeseburger and fries’. Then the associate handed me the tray and then thanked me by name.
Now, if Jack In The Box can use the name of their guests, there really is no excuse!
Ever watch someone under 30 book a hotel room? They fire up the internet and go to a site like expedia.com or hotels.com and do a search of the city they are traveling to. Then they narrow their choices to a handful of hotels that fit their budget. Then the fun really starts. People who have spent the last decade on the internet know how to get the most out of it. No 25 year old is going to trust that 4 star rating that Expedia gave your hotel. They don’t believe that your hotel was ‘hotel of the year’ for the last five years as stated on your website. They are going to see what actual people (well, internet people anyway) have to say.
Their decision to stay at your hotel starts with a quick review of your website. Does it have a pool? Check. Steakhouse? Got it. Gym? Ok. They take your hotel into consideration. But is it better than the hotel down the street that has the similar rates?
A quick Google search will tell them what they need to know. They read the reviews on tripadvisor.com. Maybe they check out yelp.com or read your Yahoo Travel ratings. Oh, Mary from Iowa says your staff is rude and your food is lousy. Three people say that your hotel lost their reservations and two people say that they were overcharged during their stay.