Good Review, Bad Review, Why Can’t I Just Ignore Them All?

Jul 3, 2013   //   by Mike   //   Latest News  //  Comments Off on Good Review, Bad Review, Why Can’t I Just Ignore Them All?

When ehotelier spoke to TripAdvisor’s Global Vice President of Sales Julio Bruno last week, his most important piece of advice to hoteliers was to reply to guests’ online reviews, whether positive or negative.  In practice, what are hoteliers’ thoughts on the importance of responding to guest reviews and what are the blocks stopping them from replying? Judging by the number of responses we have had to this article, this topic is foremost on the minds of many hoteliers. We have included a cross section of their feedback here.

Reasons for not replying to guest comments on social media ranged from not having the time, not having the language skills, not having the expertise and preferring to concentrate on preventing further problems rather than addressing existing ones.

Afraid of Responding Badly by Mariah Dailey, General Manager at Equus Hotel, Hawaiian Islands

I don’t necessarily believe that people don’t understand TripAdvisor’s importance, especially in this day and age of over communication and online activity. I believe that we understand the need for immediate satisfaction and response to reviews, however I think that it is not treated as a nurturing relationship. It comes down to the fact that we are overloaded by channels of communication, and find that we cannot respond to them all.

The TripAdvisor issue is a huge one — it takes a lot of time and dedication to respond to every single review. We believe that it needs to be responded to by the appropriate person and given the appropriate dedication of their time and response. It seems that because we don’t have a huge amount of time to spare, we figure, it is better not to do it at all if we can’t do it right (which I think reflects on the fact that we respect and appreciate these reviewers, and don’t want to pass off the responding to someone who can’t respond effectively). However, this does not get reflected in a non-response. All that is reflected is carelessness. In being selective, you ultimately look lazy and disrespectful. Realistically, we can’t respond to every single channel of communication online, and we refuse to outsource it for fear that it will be done poorly.

Focus on Problems of the Present Rather Than the Past by Matt Antonelli, Hotel General Manager, Cape Town Area, South Africa

I think we all should move out of the office more often and make sure that maintenance, cleanliness and services are prioritized, including investigating the mechanics of each complaint — how and why it developed… and realize that the final reason is communication failure. Forget trying to recapitulate on complaints — it is too late so focus on prevention.

Responding to Negative Feedback Is Both Very Difficult and Time Consuming  by John Nicholls, Resort Manager at Tanna Evergreen Resort & Tours, Vanuatu

I find that most guests will tell you how much they love your hotel to your face and write it in your Guests Comment Book or Room Questionnaires, but some of the unhappy ones will not say anything whilst they are in your turf (even if you talk to them and could have attended to their issue of concern there and then). They wait until they are home and lash out as pay back. Human nature is fickle.

Responding to negative feedback is both very difficult and time consuming as it requires a good command of the language in order to navigate the PR minefield successfully… a bad management response can create a bigger negative effect than the original post, hence as the manager I cannot take that risk and respond to each one.

Robin Bruce, CEO at HelpHound, London, responded to the above posting as follows:

John. I think you have hit at least two of the nails right on the head here. The first is that the overwhelming majority of guests don’t now complain in hotel — the culture of “I’ll do it when I get the email/I’ll just post a negative review on TripAdvisor” is well embedded.

The second explains why we are seeing such a huge take-up of Feedback Manager: historically hotels have (quite rightly) employed staff on the basis of their customer care skills, not their ability to write bulletproof responses to online reviews (and by ‘bulletproof’ we mean, as you so succinctly put it: “navigat(ing) the PR minefield.”) Just one well-intentioned blunder when responding can do untold harm (we prevent these on a daily basis – it’s amazing how many clients think that responding without apologising, for instance, is a good idea).

The majority of responses from hoteliers stated the importance of responding to every review on social media for reasons ranging from reaching out to guests, training staff, demonstrating effective leadership and turning around a business.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage By Ken Vincent, Author and Retired Hotelier, Florida

Informative article, ehotelier. I am appalled at the number of posts I’ve seen from GMs that say they do not monitor or respond to guests that leave posts on TA and similar sites.

These sites are not going away and any GM that doesn’t use them to their advantage should probably find a different line of work. “I don’t have time” doesn’t cut it and I would have fired any of my managers that said that.

Of course there is an occasional phony post but those are pretty easy to spot. If one post says their room was overrun with rats and no other post mentions that, you can pretty well bet that it isn’t true. Rats don’t just camp out in one room.

Studies show that the average traveller will check 7 hotels before booking a room. I certainly do and I’m impressed with those where the GM responds to all posts quickly and well. That is where I’ll spend my money, even if one or two comments were unfavourable. I know that if I do have a problem there is a GM that will deal with it promptly. I throw out the best and the worst of the comments and look for the most common.

Leadership Not Just About Bottom Line By Peter M. Delmas, Director of Operations / I.H.M. International Hospitality Management, Phoenix, Arizona Area

I think there are two reasons and pretty fundamental too. The first is that the nature of leadership has changed. The focus is on the bottom-line established by managers that maintain systems and structure and doesn’t understand building and nurturing relationships. They do not have the experience of hoteliers and salespeople who understand the importance of reaching out, or of being a leader that focuses on people. The second reason is they don’t understand business — they know numbers, not good business practices or market competition. If they did — improvements to the quality of service to guests would be high on their list. If they understood competition, they would understand and communicate better with their clientele. They don’t understand that the little things make a difference, doing the extra. Of course many don’t understand sites like TripAdvisor.

Using Reviews for Staff Training by Tony Shepherd, General Manager at Ana Mandara Resort Hue Vietnam

I make it a daily part of my routine to check T/A as it can give you an edge. It is so important to reply to every review; if it is unfavourable and you feel it is unjust then say so in a business-like manner. I work in Asia and many comments are about the level of English. This gets up my nose as it is rude to make those comments and the staff read them and it makes them feel somewhat second class when they try so hard. I use the negative reviews in training as it helps to improve the standard and gives the staff an insight as to guest expectation. T/A is an important part of service delivery and even if negative should not be seen as turning potential customers off. If they see you are a proactive manager they will give you the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t reply at your peril.

How to Turn Around A Business by Sam Tatnell, General Manager at Mariner Bay Apartments, New South Wales, Australia

We took over a management rights business in Australia 12 months ago. The previous owners did not utilize TA as a guest had left a bad review — I think there were about 6 reviews in total of a business that had been going for years! In 12 months using the tools that TA provide we have listened to our guests, made many changes and now have a 4 star rating and certificate of excellence to show for it. People in this business need to learn about social media as a number 1 priority and use it to their advantage. I am sure we receive many more bookings from guests that can see we are active on the site.

For full story and source; Good Review, Bad Review, Why Can’t I Just Ignore Them All?