Social Responsibility in the Hospitality Industry: What You Can Do and Why You Should

Among the many ways millennials are changing the hospitality industry, their commitment to socially conscious consumerism is a significant one. They consider it a business’s role to contribute to the well-being of the community (in addition to making profits), and they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is. 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on products and services from sustainable brands and nine out of ten would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

In addition to attracting and earning the loyalty of guests, socially responsible initiatives can help entice and retain employees as well. People want to work for a company with a positive impact. They’ll have higher job satisfaction, which means a lower employee turnover rate for you.

Here’s how you can become more socially responsible—and benefit your community and your brand at the same time.

Eco-friendly initiatives

To appeal to the socially conscious traveler, going green should be your first priority. Last year, 65% of global travelers expressed an intent to stay in eco-friendly accommodation. And you don’t want to miss out on those potential customers. So what can you do to show a commitment to the environment? Try things like swapping out lightbulbs for energy efficient alternatives, installing low-flow taps and toilets, and reducing plastic use.

 If you’ve already made those changes and are looking for a little more inspiration, check out El Nido Resorts in Indonesia. They’re a shining example of the steps a lodging operation can take to become eco-friendlier. The resorts were constructed using renewable materials, and their menu consists primarily of locally sourced ingredients. They also boast advanced water catchment systems, grey water recycling, desalination plants, and on-site composting and sewage treatment facilities. On top of all that, the resorts host on-going environmental programs that include beach clean-ups, ecosystem preservation and rehabilitation, and wildlife monitoring.

Community Service

Social responsibility means more than caring about the environment. It’s about caring for people and communities too. And that makes sense as a hotelier. Your community is what makes your locality great and entices travelers to visit—so you should be invested in its health and prosperity. Consider creating initiatives or programs that give back to the community you love.

Melia Zanzibar won a hospitality award for the implementation of their Global Corporate Social Responsibility Model. Their mission was to improve the overall quality of life of the locals living in the neighboring village of Kairo. They built a well for fresh water, rebuilt the village mosque, renovated homes, and taught basic agriculture and self-sufficiency to the community.

Charitable Contributions

Whether it’s to help the community or conserve the environment, setting up your own programs and initiatives can be a daunting task. If you’re not ready to do it on your own, consider partnering with a charity.

Omni Hotels and Resorts makes charitable donations to Feeding America with their Say Goodnight to Hunger campaign. And they use it as an incentive for guests to book direct. For every direct booking they receive, they commit to feeding a family of four for a week.

The chefs at Kimpton Hotels participate in the Chefs Cycle fundraising event for No Kid Hungry every year. And donations are made to the charity when featured items are purchased at participating restaurants.

 

Travelers today are more conscious about their impact on the world than ever before. They want to stay in accommodation and support businesses that are doing what they can to improve their local communities. So, consider implementing social responsibility initiatives at your property. It’ll be good for the world and great for your brand.

A Hotelier’s Guide to Responding to Online Reviews

Today’s consumers rely heavily on reviews to make purchasing decisions. The quantity and quality of online reviews are both considered when determining what to buy or where to book. That makes them critical to a business’s success. But it’s not just about maximizing positive reviews and minimizing the negative ones (although that’s certainly important). Responding to reviews is also an essential part of reputation management. If done correctly it can further capitalize on the good reviews and mitigate the damage of the bad. Here’s a quick guide to responding to online reviews:

General tips

Use their name >> Always start your responses with the name of the customer. “Hi, Louise. Thank you.. “ or “Hello, Max. We are so sorry…” sound much more personal than beginning with a cold “Thank you …” or “We are so sorry…”. Using names tells your customers that you care about them as individuals. And it makes it seem less like an automated response.

Be genuine >> Nobody likes receiving a canned response. It feels inauthentic and doesn’t do anything to build a connection with customers. So, avoid generic statements and use language that showcases your property’s personality.

Don’t be repetitive >> It can be tempting to use the same responses over and over to save time, but people read multiple reviews when researching online. If the same phrases are repeated time and time again, they’ll notice. So, mix things up—it’ll look better for your brand.

Positive reviews

While most of your responses should be focused on negative reviews, responding to some positive ones is still important. It shows you don’t take customers’ kind words for granted, and is an opportunity to leverage the review even further.

Repeat the positive feature >> When a guest writes a rave review they usually include the specific details that meant the most to them—things like “the breakfast every morning was delicious.” Restate those details in your responses. Saying something like “we’re so glad you enjoyed our breakfast!” shows the guest (and others reading the exchange) that you’re listening to what they have to say and reiterates the positive attributes of your property.

Use your business name and keywords >> When crafting your response make sure to include your property’s name (i.e. “we are so pleased to hear you enjoyed your time at [PROPERTY NAME]” as well as other keywords. You want people to see your positive reviews, and this will help them show up in search results.

Include subtle marketing >> Reviews have a vast audience of potential customers, so don’t miss the opportunity to plug your property further. After thanking the guest for their kind words, include a subtle call-to-action. Something like “we’re so happy to hear you enjoyed your view of the lake! You should come back and see it in the winter; it’s so beautiful!”.

Negative reviews

Negative reviews aren’t fun, but they happen to everyone. And your responses say a lot to the potential customers reading them. So, you need to have a plan for how to move forward. If done well, you can significantly reduce any fallout (and a guest may even revise it afterwards).

Acknowledge and apologize >> The first thing you should do is acknowledge the experience your guest had and express your apologies for it. People tend to calm down when their feelings are validated.

Move the conversation offline >> You don’t want to turn negative reviews into long, drawn-out discussions online. After apologizing for the guest’s experience, include an invitation to contact you offline so the situation can be resolved.

Keep it short and sweet >> Nobody wants to read paragraphs of text, especially when they’re upset. So, don’t add fuel to the fire with long-winded responses. A simple acknowledgment, apology, and an invitation to communicate further are all you need.

Don’t use your business name or keywords >> Unlike your positive reviews, you really don’t want negative reviews to be popping up on search results. For this reason, avoid using your property’s name or relevant keywords in your responses.

Responding to online reviews should be a regular part of your marketing strategy. Make sure you’re doing it right, so you can make the most of positive reviews and reduce the effects of negative ones.