Leading internet marketing consultant Daniel Edward Craig has urged hoteliers to respond to negative online reviews in an attempt to limit their damage.
Craig, who was general manger of the Opus Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, before becoming a consultant, told delegates at the 2011 National Hotel Marketing Conference at London's Royal Horseguards Hotel, that only about seven per cent of negative reviews receive a response from hotel management.
"Why is that?" he asked. "You wouldn't, I'm sure, step out the back door if a guest came to the front desk to complain, so why wouldn't you put the record straight online."
"Hoteliers lament the loss of control with what people are saying online, but they should recognise that they do still have an influence."
Craig advised hoteliers to keep abreast of online reviews by subscribing to Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts, which will notify them as soon as their properties are mentioned.
"You should then respond to all reviews as soon as possible, whether they are good or bad," he said.
"If the review is bad, you have the opportunity to redeem yourselves, with your reply having more of an impact than the original complaint. If you don't reply other travellers will think you don't care and take the original complaint as true, even though it may not be."
Craig suggested that a hotel's response should always be written by a senior manager with a good judgement and writing skills. The complaint should always be checked and if it is true, an apology should be made and an explanation given.
"Be friendly, humble and brief; don't be defensive, patronising or dramatic.
"If the claims are false, then put the record straight diplomatically. If the allegations are really harmful, then you will need to take up the dispute with the host site."
By Janet Harmer
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