Hotels are no stranger to the benefits and dangers that come with online reviews. Travelers are researching hotels more than ever before, so positive reviews and a high ranking on sites like TripAdvisor are almost necessary. Improving your TripAdvisor ranking can be difficult though, especially if your hotel does not receive many reviews. So what can hotels do to manage their online reputation and improve their ranking on TripAdvisor?
Recently, the Four Seasons located in Austin, Texas performed an amazing feat when the hotel jumped 26 spots in less than three years. Currently, the Four Seasons is rated the #1 hotel in Austin. Rob Hagelberg, the Four Seasons’ General Manager, revealed 4 best practices to manage your hotel’s brand and TripAdvisor reviews:
1. Monitor social activity to identify new customer reviews
Whether or not your hotel is active on social media or TripAdvisor, users are talking about your property. Instead of just allowing the conversation to take place, be a part of the conversation. After Rob Hagelberg noticed the Four Seasons’ TripAdvisor ranking went from #20 to #26, he realized he had to take action.
Hagelberg began monitoring all online mentions of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. He used Revinate to be immediately notified every time there was mention of the hotel on various social media sites or when there was a new review on TripAdvisor. This monitoring allowed him to act quickly and respond to any negative reviews or mentions.
2. Give staff a deadline for responding to negative reviews
Management responses to negative reviews are extremely important. It shows guests that the hotel cares about negative experiences and will try to improve the guest experience in the future. From the hotel’s perspective, investigating negative reviews can help determine if certain hotel operations need improvement.
The Four Seasons’ policy on responding to negative reviews is 24 hours. This leaves a very small chance that potential customers will see an unanswered negative review. During the 24-hour period, a manager will investigate the incident and notify all employees that should be aware of the situation. The manager will then craft a response to the guest and determine a way to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.
3. Use a standard template to respond to all negative reviews
Rob Hagelberg developed a specific structure to the way he crafts a management response for negative TripAdvisor reviews. He starts every response by thanking the customer for taking the time to write a review. He then apologizes for the incident and explains why it will not happen again. Though Hagelberg has a specific approach to responding to negative reviews, each one is personalized to fit the individual situation. Develop a template that outlines how your hotel wishes to respond to negative reviews and refer to it for all management responses.
4. Leave a personalized message to thank people for their positive review
Many hotels are aware that they should respond to negative reviews, however, positive reviews are completely ignored. Hagelberg makes it a point to respond to a handful of positive reviews in addition to all negative reviews. His template for responding to positive reviews is similar to that of negative reviews, with the exception of the apology. To finish off the response, he invites the guest to stay at the Four Seasons again.
Remember, TripAdvisor places larger weight on recent reviews compared to older reviews when it comes to your hotel’s ranking. Encourage guests to leave a review at checkout, through email, and be sure to add a TripAdvisor widget to your hotel’s website.
The team at Software Advice, a website that offers free reviews of hotel management solutions, shared this report.