After 2020, the world is a different place, and yet, we’re not entirely sure what will be different when everything returns to normal—whatever that is! We don’t have to tell you that the hospitality industry is very different than before. Hotels have had to dodge every curveball imaginable and get very creative with their space for revenue. But what is the way forward? According to this TrustYou article, focusing on the guest experience and making adjustments based on guest feedback will guide your hotel recovery from COVID-19 and recharge your revenue stream. Here are our tips for how to best gather and leverage guest feedback so your hotel can recover strongly from the pandemic.
What’s the best way to gather hotel guest feedback?
The best way to find out what guests are thinking is to ask them, of course! There are numerous ways to gather feedback from your hotel guests. The more varied your outreach, the more feedback you’ll receive on which to base your post-pandemic recovery plan.
Post-stay emails: Using post-stay emails as part of your regular automated sequence is a great way to keep in touch with your guests and thank them for their stay. Tell your guests to email the manager should they have any feedback they’d like to share, ensuring that if they do, they receive a personalized response. But why wait? Some of our hotel partners send emails during their guests’ stay so they can nip any potential issues in the bud. Systems like Akia can help by leveraging text messaging to expedite guest communication.
Guest surveys: Send guest surveys via post-stay email, usually within one to three days of the guest’s visit. Platforms like Revinate make surveys easy to create and share with PMS integration. Ensure you ask for specific open-ended feedback that will inform your future business operations, such as what services they’d like to see or what would increase their likelihood to return to your hotel.
Guest reviews: Behind every successful hotel is positive online reviews. According to TripAdvisor, 98% of guests read hotel reviews during trip planning, while a TrustYou study revealed that 76% of guests will pay higher hotel rates for highly rated hotels. Monitor and manage online reviews for your hotel across the web, but also, reach out and ask your guests to leave a review. Platforms like BlueJay Reviews help hotels generate reviews with automated email or text messaging that link out to third-party review sites such as Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, then monitor those review channels from one centralized dashboard.
Online listening: Monitoring reviews is certainly one way to retrieve feedback, but like juicy gossip, it’s also interesting to see what they’re saying behind your back! Use online listening tools—like Talkwalker, Google Alerts, and Social Mention—and keep track of your hotel’s reputation via brand mention, whether it’s social media, online news, or blogs.
What should I do with hotel guest feedback?
Respond to guest reviews: Whether they completed a survey or left a review, it’s imperative to respond to guest feedback. If a survey was completed via an automated email, ensure a follow-up thank you email is next in the flow. And whether a review is submitted on your site or a third-party review site, respond to each and every one—even the negative ones—in a kind, respectful and sincere manner.
According to this PwC study, the future of excellent customer experience is rooted in human interaction with 82% of respondents in the United States wanting more in the future, illustrating the need to stay in touch with guests at every customer journey touchpoint.
Pro-tip: Using software like Revinate to reach out to guests during and after their stay can interrupt a negative experience and give you a chance to rectify matters before a negative review goes public.
Hug your haters: Bad hotel reviews are like guests that overstay their welcome. But the truth is, even the nastiest of reviews can help you out. Check your ego at the door and proceed with a pinch of salt when reading negative feedback while considering the facts, then thank your nitpickers because they are the ones who will tell you the truth, even if it’s hard to swallow.
Many travelers search for balanced feedback when reading hotel reviews, understanding that a hotel is somewhere between their most positive review and their most negative review. Too many positive reviews can look fishy.
This is your chance to make a difference! According to PwC, 59% of consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer service. By hugging your haters and responding to negative feedback, you’re letting guests know you care. Not to mention, future guests not only make decisions based on the reviews people write about you, but also how you respond to those reviews.
Analyze the data: Obviously, it’s not enough to collect feedback—you must also analyze it! Survey apps and software will conglomerate answers, but if you’re collecting data from various sources, ensure feedback is categorized by topic for easy reference and analysis. Revinate’s Guest Feedback platform provides guest sentiment analysis and reporting to help you understand trends and outliers and see what areas of your hotel need the most work.
Make changes: Once you analyze the data, it’s time to make changes, of course. This may entail providing additional coaching to staff or go as deep as altering your business plan. The real win is that you’re not making haphazard changes; you’re making changes based on what your guests are asking for. This evidence-based approach will also go a long way in convincing your hotel partners about what changes need to be implemented and will encourage buy-in from employees as well.
Measure success: It’s important to measure the success of all new and existing initiatives. Determine what your key performance indicators are for each initiative, such as brand awareness, guest satisfaction, and, of course, revenue.
Start again: Then start all over again by collecting guest feedback. This continuous process of refinement and adjustment is the only way forward in a world that requires increased agility. Building flexibility into your business plan will help your hotel through all the ebbs of flows of the hospitality industry.
In the Business of Accommodating
No one knows better than a hotelier that customer satisfaction is number one. The whole nature of the industry is based on being hospitable and accommodating. As TrustYou says, “With everything changing at such a fast pace, industry workers need to be flexible and build from the guest experience up.”
Building guest feedback into your business plan is a natural success strategy, now more than ever before. The pandemic has made the future seem even more unpredictable, with many struggling to see the way forward. But a solid guest survey and feedback strategy is the grounding force your hotel needs to guide your future initiatives and ensure continued success. The most important advice from TrustYou though may be this: don’t wait for better times to take action, “Hoteliers who take this downtime to plan, improve, and understand their performance and position on the market, are the ones who will ultimately come on top.”