Online reviews, how to manage them and their actual value to hotel operators can quickly change a friendly discussion into a hot debate amongst professionals in the hospitality industry.

Some professionals argue that online reviews are not valid or trustworthy because consumers have to sometimes weed through reviews of questionable value. But this doesn’t seem to faze the community of travelers. Hotel operators and hotel procurement managers should take note.

More and more, travelers depend on social media and online travel review sites like TripAdvisor to make well-informed decisions before planning their trip and selecting their accommodations. Travelers are quick to post comments and reviews about their experience in hotels and restaurants around the world.

Customers want to know you, the hotelier, are listening to their concerns. Responding to customer feedback via the web is no longer optional if you want to continue to grow your hotel business. In fact, your future business development depends on receiving and processing feedback in a timely manner. Now a global trend, it is increasing every year in the level of activity.

When you come across an online review, consider three essential rules when preparing your response.

• Be positive- With a little thoughtfulness, there is always a way to find a positive response. Remember to validate and solve with the highest level of professionalism.
• Be mindful- Listen fully to the concern. It may well reveal an area of your operation that requires attention.
• Be prompt- Establish you standard and be true to it. Online comments warrant immediate reply…can your operation support a 24-hour commitment?

Instead of focusing on negative comments, which are inevitable, try to see each comment (positive and negative) as a perfect opportunity to keep guests happy beyond face-to-face interaction. When you consider the guest’s issue, be mindful of offering a response that validates their concern and offers an equitable solution. After they check out of your hotel, seize the opportunity to respond to their invaluable online comments.

Maintain your hotel’s reputation online as well as you do in person so you can continue to deliver on your hotel’s promise. View it as a great opportunity to gather critical feedback and improve your service. Restaurants, airlines, cruise lines and even casinos have become just as dependent on these reviews as hotels. No one in the hospitality/service industry is exempt.

An article from The New York Times reports the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University discovered that hotels could actually charge slightly higher rates provided they had better customer reviews on travel rating sites like Travelocity and TripAdvisor.

Online reviews provide great insights for procurement managers. The benefit comes from knowing what guests like and want. Pay attention to the smallest clues and details that guests are talking about on social media and travel review sites.

Hoteliers have started to assigns staff to social media responsibilities, ensuring that they review and respond to feedback frequently. Having social media experts can help hotels understand both the quality and quantity of feedback from multiple review sources.
Best Western is a good example of a brand that is embracing this trend. Now hiring digital marketing representatives to make sure customers are happy with their stay and promote its properties online.

Hampton Inn is another great example of a brand that takes guest satisfaction seriously, offering a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and a refund for unhappy guests. Despite the remote possibility that some might take advantage of this policy, Hampton Inn remains committed to the focus of keeping guests happy. Feedback from guests, particularly online, is critical.

Hotel operators and general managers should also regularly share guest feedback with the procurement department. Guest feedback plays an important part in making future decisions that support the guest experience.

As you monitor customer feedback on social media and online review sites, remember to respond quickly — guests expect prompt responses to both comments and complaints. Also be sure to deal with the negative comments directly. Ignoring negative feedback won’t make it go away and the issue may become worse.

Your dedication and show of great customer service can play a significant role in keeping existing guests happy and attracting new guests.

Source1 Purchasing works alongside your procurement manager to ensure consistent product quality and access to the latest industry trends. It is our goal to help you achieve higher customer satisfaction.

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