Scanning online reviews is usually one of the first things a meeting or event planner does while scoping out prospective properties. Although negative comments can throw you off, when you see them, look for a sound, systematic approach from the venue when dealing with harsh criticism during your evaluation. Ignoring, deleting or succumbing to the review is not the answer.
Here is a look at the good and the bad when it comes to the online review process and six key ways you can determine if the property you are considering is following a best practices methodology.
Hotels and conference centers are taking the online review process very seriously because they know it can equate to true business. In fact, according to a recent survey by TripAdvisor, those properties that responded to online reviews saw a 21 percent increase in booking inquires over those who did not respond at all.
Another TripAdvisor survey of 2,800 respondents found:
- 84 percent of survey participants felt an appropriate management response to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel.
- 64 percent of the respondents felt a defensive management response to a bad review made them less likely to book that hotel.
A new term has come up in the online world called “bad review blackmail.” This is where a guest will post a bad online review that may or may not be true. When the hotel management asks the reviewer how they can fix the problem, the reviewer always moves toward a demand for a deep discount off future services or a price cut on services rendered.
Unfortunately, as a reader you might not know which reviews are blackmail-oriented and which ones are not. However, if the hotel has left that review untouched and the demands seem over the top, it may be that particular review is in the hands of the hotel’s attorney.
Hotel Staff Best Practices Regarding Online Reviews
The best hotels practice the following measures. They:
- DO respond ASAP.
According to Social Media Examiner, you should check at least five social channels for current news, PR and responses about a venue:
- Google the hotel and look under “News” for recent articles, blogs and videos.
- Check its Facebook page often — especially the reviews section — and read reviews and responses.
- Do a search on Twitter to see what others are writing about the venue and how quickly the hotel responded to questions or complaints.
- Look on Yelp for information and reviews of the facility.
- Review all TripAdvisor comments.
- DO use the first name of the reviewer and thank him or her for the feedback in the first sentence of the hotel’s response.
- DO take all complaints seriously and do not make light of any comment.
- DO share with the reviewer how things will change, but DON’T make any promises they cannot keep.
- DO move the conversation offline in a responsible manner.
Here is the conundrum with online reviews: If the hotel doesn’t respond to complete resolution online, you don’t really know if the issue was resolved or not; if the conversational thread is too long, you won’t read it. But a response like the one here can help move it offline, while showing the venue staff still cares:“Hi ____________________, my name is _____________________, and I want you to know we are looking into this concern and will get back to you soon. In the meantime, please call me at _____________________________ or email me at ____________________________ if I can be of further assistance.”
- DO return your emails and telephone calls promptly.
Many negative reviews started with a complaint to the front desk or a call or email to the management team. If you email or call the hotel, do they email and call you right back? Or at least within 24 hours?
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Is Very Responsive to Reviews
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