The importance of online feedback means operators must be more canny about direct comment capture, says Blue Sky Marketing MD Chris Larsen
Once upon a time a hotel guest would share their experience directly with the hotelier when they checked out. They may even have completed an ‘in room' feedback card placed in the room. What was said between a guest and an hotelier was pretty much kept ‘in house'.
However, in today's dynamic and transparent world, mediums like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have empowered consumers to share their every thought regarding products and services with other potential guests.
There is no question of the importance of managing guest feedback and guest satisfaction. All hoteliers know that if a guest leaves their property having had a positive experience, there is a very good chance that they will become a repeat guest and generate positive word of mouth, which translates into more non-commission paid direct bookings.
So what are some of the online options for hoteliers today? Online hotel review websites, like TripAdvisor, enable guests to rant and rave about their latest hotel experiences in a very public forum. Positive reviews and high rating scores have translated into increased bookings and an improved average room rate for a hotelier, while negative reviews not only impact on the bottom line (some say each poor review equals 30 lost customers), but can also derail a hotel if not managed professionally.
A number of hotels not only send links to their profile on TripAdvisor, but also use online hotel review websites as their main source of guest feedback, to understand what is being said and to gauge the general "buzz" about their hotel.
The majority of branded hotel chains around the world have already moved to what the industry calls online hotel guest experience surveys or post stay surveys.
These online hotel surveys are distributed electronically by the hotel after a guest has left the property, which allows the hotel to easily capture guest feedback and keep it "in house". Smartphones have made completing these surveys even easier.
What is exciting about QR Codes (scanned via a smartphone and linked to an online feedback survey), is that they can be printed easily on any receipt and invoice statement, enabling a residential or non-residential guest to provide feedback on their latest dining or hotel experience at the touch of a button.
Just as online review sites have made it easy for guests to distribute their views, hotels must make it simple for customers to provide feedback in order to directly capture comments. Whatever methodology is embraced, hotels and restaurants need to pay as much attention to the slickness of their feedback gathering as they do to the service in the rest of business.