By now, consistently responding to online guest reviews is a standard procedure nailed down by your hotel marketing strategy.
But while several hoteliers are adept at handling in-person feedback and complaints, many are unable to do so effectively online. Some hotels are too nervous to respond at all to bad reviews. But, when you get a ugly review that makes you turn red with anger or embarrassment, how should you respond? When working tirelessly to get hotel group business, it's dismaying to know that a negative review can have a major impact on your hotel group business marketing.
Here are some suggested responses for some of the more common, challenging reviews guests can leave. Add these responses to your hospitality marketing and hotel online marketing arsenal to tackle nightmare online feedback.
Before You Respond…
If you’re constantly being berated with the same complaint over and over again, turn your attention to fixing the problem, rather than agonizing over well-crafted responses. Plus, make sure you’re taking the time to write a thoughtful response, instead of just quickly rattling off an apology to get it off your plate.
Responding to the Most Challenging Reviews
Complaint #1: Inconsiderate Staff
Guest reviews can make your employees look like hospitality rock stars or lazy and brusque good-for-nothings. Often, you’ll see reviews that say “Sam at the bell desk was extremely rude and short with us.” How do you respond when the review mentions one of your own? First off, get your staff’s side of the story, as this type of public finger-pointing can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. If you believe your staff acted properly, then back them up. However, if the staff member is known for being inconsiderate and impolite, than it’s time for HR to step in with service training.
When you respond, don’t sell out your employee by promising there will be a punishment. Simply give your regrets and say that you will look into their feedback with the entire team. If you feel the review was uncalled for, express your support by saying: “We’re astonished to read your review about our bellman, he’s known for being one of our best.”
Complaint #2 Uncleanliness or Broken Fixtures
If you receive a complaint over the cleanliness of your property, or if items in that particular guest’s room are in disrepair (and normally isn’t so), let them know it was a rare occasion: “Please note that we take extreme pride in keeping our property up to the highest of standards, but clearly we had a lapse during your time with us.”
Complaint #3: Problems You Don’t Control
What if a guest complains about the noise from the street, from the construction site across the way, or a nearby restaurant? How you respond will shape the impressions of potential guests, so make sure to be transparent. Don’t cover the issue, but don’t scare anyone away either. Best way to tackle these types of reviews is to offer options: “Our lively neighborhood is what makes our location so attractive to travelers. We have rooms that don’t face the street on the west side of our property, in case you’d like to reserve those upon request.”
Complaint #4: Outdated and Shabby Property
For issues that aren’t easy to fix on the spot, such as outdated furniture and shabby décor: “We’re aware that it’s time for hotel to refresh and update, and are happy that we can offer such modest rates in the meantime.” Then, start building a list of the complaints to present to your hotel ownership when you push for renovations.
Complaint #5: What a Rip-Off
Whether you’re a five-star luxury resort or a small motel, we’ve all heard it before. People will complain about the rate no matter how high or low. Usually these complaints are rooted in perception of value, not price. If this comes up too often, then most likely you are overcharging, overselling, or under-delivering (probably even in a combo of the three) and you need to make changes accordingly. Otherwise, respond with this: “Our rates are comparable to similar hotels in our neighborhood, as we feel we provide some of the best value because of our prime location and personal service standards. We’re sorry that this was not your impression this time around.”
Complaint #6: Mistakes that Could Have Been Prevented
We all make mistakes. Your hotel is no exception. Graciously own up to any mistakes or oversights on your part: “We’re genuinely sorry that didn’t handle the situation better and I’ve spoken with my team so that the same will not happen in the future.”
Complaint #7 Inaccurate details
Because of simple misunderstandings, reviews can be full of false information. If the details are too minor to address, just let it go or set the record straight matter-of-factly: “We’re sorry you were misinformed and apologize for any inconvenience it caused. Our restaurant is open for breakfast every day at 7am.”
However, if the review is ripe of fraudulent details, let the host site know because the integrity of reviews are important to them as well. However, they will want proof and there is no guarantee that they will comply and remove the review. So, respond with: “We thoroughly looked into this and found no record of this event. We take your complaint seriously, so please contact me directly so we can discuss.”
Written by Junvi Ola.