Posts

USA Today and ABC News Report Guest Satisfaction Lowest in Seven Years

A recent article in USA Today reports that hotel guest satisfaction has dropped to its lowest level in seven years, noting that check-in and check-out, guestrooms, food, Internet/WiFi fees, and facilities such as pools and business centers top the list of travelers' dislikes. ABC News also reported that how a person books their hotel stay may also be related to their satisfaction. In Hotels with Highest, Lowest Guest Satisfaction, Travel & Lifestyle Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown wrote that "guests who book their hotel stay with online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia and competitors) tend to be less satisfied with their stay then those who book directly with the hotel web site or over the phone. These travelers tend to be more price-sensitive, have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay, are less loyal to hotel brands and tend to report more problems."

The underlying message for hoteliers is twofold: 1) If you don't take direct control of your guest reviews NOW, chances are the comments they post will not only turn travelers off, it could keep them away.  2) It's time to refresh your websites because enticing travelers to book directly on your website will improve your chances of having satisfied customers, thereby increasing your chances of receiving positive reviews.

"It only takes one unhappy guest to post a bad review, then the company's reputation is damaged, which in turn effects their sales," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive, an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. "Today travelers have no problem telling the world what they like — and more importantly, don't like — about their hotel experience. Knowing how easy the Web and social media has made it for consumers to find their voices, hoteliers should be fearful to create an atmosphere whereby a negative review can even occur. Those hotel companies that have been identified in recent reports by travelers as providing below average service need to act — and quickly — to salvage their reputations and restore faith in their patrons."

Lodging Interactive has established a Guest Review System for hotels that alerts management in real time when reviews are posted to their web sites. This ensures there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property or has the opportunity to post negative reviews on third-party websites. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website.

"Negative reviews will happen; no matter how stellar the hotel's reputation, someone will find something to complain about — even if it's a competitor posting a fraudulent review," Vallauri said. "The key to containment comes with responding immediately to the post and flipping the negative experience into a positive — preferably before the guest has even left the property. Equally important is responding in an appropriate manner. Be thankful, polite, and respectful of guests, even if the complaint is not warranted. Remain calm and always be courteous. Tell the guest how the situation will be addressed and what the next steps are. Tell the guest that you deem the complaint to be serious, and that there is a plan in place to resolve the matter. More importantly, give him or her a way to stay in touch with management, and invite further feedback."

Hotels can quickly and cost-effectively add Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System in about 10 minutes. All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code inserted on the hotel's Website. Once initiated, managers can immediately begin collecting real-time reviews on their own websites and respond to customer concerns in real time. In addition, the company is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf if staffing is an issue.

But wait, there's more . . .
Hotels needing to update their websites to provide fresh content and simplify the direct booking process can actually receive the Guest Review System absolutely FREE!

"Adding guest reviews to a hotel's website is critical for business success today, but if the website isn't fresh — featuring new, visually appealing photos and links to social media channels to ensure more chatter — owners and operators are just compounding the problem," Vallauri said. "Lodging Interactive's Hotel Website Solutions program enables hoteliers to refresh their web site every two years, at no additional cost, and we'll throw the Guest Review System in at no additional cost."

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions package is:

• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• Online analytical reporting
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting and Server Management
• Robust Content Management, and
• Guest Review System at no additional cost.

"It's important for hoteliers to know that they can easily and affordably take control of their reputations by simply and affordably updating their Web sites and adding a Guest Review through Lodging Interactive," Vallauri said. "Hotel companies that have been ranked as providing below average satisfaction to guests can easily boost their credibility, restore consumer confidence, and regain lost business from third-party review sites."

Lodging Interactive has identified the following five ways for hoteliers to interact with their guests and prospects and better grow and manage their use of online marketing and social media channels for 2013 and beyond:

1. Keep Your Hotel’s Website "Fresh" by updating websites at least every two years
2. Take Control Of Your Hotel’s Guest Reviews by adding review functionality to your web site
3. Invest in Mobile Marketing
4. Enhance your presence on all social media channels
5. Manage our online reputation by monitoring chatter

 

Does Guest Review Management Really Pay Off?

Does posting guest reviews and using social media to air travel grievances really make a difference? Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry for the past 10 years, knows that it does. Together with its subsidiary CoMMingle, a social-media marketing consultancy, the two companies have spent the last five years helping hoteliers grow and better manage their use of social media channels for hotel marketing, of which monitoring and managing guest reviews is a big part.

Consider this scenario. In a recent USA Today column titled "Airing your hotel problem on Twitter can pay off," Travel Columnist Barbara DeLollis recaps a story shared with her by one of her "Hotel Check-In" readers:

"About 18 months ago, I checked into the [hotel] for staycation when a friend was visiting from Seattle. When I opened the mini-fridge, to my horror and disgust, there was a leftover box frozen solid into the freezer section, with strong odor of what may have been a lovely Mexican meal gone bad. I immediately took a picture with my iPhone and Tweeted [the hotel] before heading out to dinner with my friend. In the middle of our appetizer, I received a Tweet apologizing for the mishap and an offer of free breakfast for two the next morning. When I arrived back in my room, a bottle of wine and a hand-written note were waiting for us. Needless to say, the frozen dinner was gone. Since then, I have used [the Twitter handle for the hotel] for everything from confirming early check-in to ordering room service. The consistent, immediate and non-intrusive service of [the hotel's Twitter handle] is probably the No. 1 reason I've remained loyal to the chain. Since the above-mentioned incident, btw, I have made Diamond status with [the brand] and will probably be a customer for life."
Lin told USA Today's DeLollis that he believes "Twitter is almost always faster than calling the front desk or corporate to get results." The biggest bonus, he said, is that "he can just type a quick message while on the go instead of taking the time to get someone on the phone and talk."

While this situation was resolved via Twitter, Lodging Interactive professes that using a hotel's own website to enable guests to post reviews works equally as well, and it helps to better manage channel shift from third-party sites to the brand or property site. In addition, for hotel managers who may not be as social media savvy, being able to reply to guest reviews via a laptop or desktop onto the hotel website makes the response process that much quicker and easier.

"Social media is more about psychology than marketing," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "When guests take the time to post a review on Twitter or the hotel's Facebook page, for example, someone needs to be monitoring the channel ready to post a response. It's a way to take online marketing to the next level. Frequent traveler Lin who corresponded with USA Today was fortunate that he stayed at a hotel that had social media monitoring tools in place. Most hotels don't; but that's where Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle come in."

Lodging Interactive has developed an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System that enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website.

With Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System, hotels can be up and running in 10 minutes. If finding the time to respond is an issue, Lodging Interactive is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf.

"It's important for hoteliers to know that they can easily and affordably compete with brand guest review programs and take control of their online reputations today through Lodging Interactive," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Those that want to go the extra step and also monitor the various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs can benefit by partnering with CoMMingle. This group is designed to assist hotels with social media engagement via strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization."

The challenge for hoteliers is not just being visible via the various social channels, but being interactive and engaging, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going, Vallauri said.

"If a hotel does not have a dedicated staff member serving as its social media watch dog, it's easy for the plan to fall apart," he said. "That's where CoMMingle comes in. We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired. So the next time your hotel gets a Tweet from a disgruntled guest like Mr. Lin, management will have a team in place to Tweet a reply and turn the negative situation into a positive one. Easier yet, by adding the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System to the hotel website, management can monitor reviews and respond to complements or concerns in a format that they are more comfortable with."

FREE OFFER!
Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. For more information, visit http://www.guestreviewsystem.com. The offer is being made available now through June 28 at the conclusion of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC).

Online Guest Reviews Gaining Momentum; Good News for Independent Hoteliers

Think guest reviews aren't that important to your ongoing web strategy? Think again. In a recent USA Today article titled "Hotel giants embracing guest reviews — good or bad," author Barbara DeLollis reports that some of the world's biggest hotel companies are adding customer reviews of their hotels to their own websites "betting that their best customers will put more faith in reviews that are on their websites because they — unlike TripAdvisor — have the ability to confirm whether a review writer really checked into that particular hotel." The good news for independent hoteliers is that an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System is available from Lodging Interactive that enables them to mirror — and even surpass — these brand initiatives.

In the article, DeLollis reports that Starwood, Marriott and Four Seasons already have their own customer review-posting portals, and Hilton, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and Radisson are in the processes of evaluating or launching programs later this year. IHG Marketing Vice President Michael Menis was referenced as saying . . . "reviews are important because they play 'an important role in helping a customer make their ultimate booking decision.'" Likewise, Hilton Senior VP of Global Online Services Chuck Sullivan, was quoted as saying: "Consumer reviews are a very positive thing. They help provide customers with a real understanding of a property. We believe that direct channels — specifically, our Web brand hotel pages — have to be seen by the guest as the ultimate source of truth."

Truth in Advertising
With so many brands either leaning towards a proprietary web-based guest review program, or already implementing one, Vallauri said consumers will soon expect it to be a standard part of every hotel's website. Lodging Interactive’s Guest Review System is leveling the playing field for independent hotels by giving them a tool that is quick to implement today and enables them to compete with the big boys while also enhancing their web strategy.

"Recent studies confirm that more than 60 percent of online shoppers and travel planners visit and seriously consider peer-written reviews prior to making their online purchase," Vallauri said. "Being able to monitor what people are saying about their individual property 24/7 is important, but enabling guest reviews to reside on your website gives hoteliers the opportunity to respond in real time to posted reviews — good or bad — thereby keeping potential problems in check.

"Through the Lodging interactive Guest Review System, any independent hotel that wants to validate and respond to reviews today can do so on their own website, and with no capital investment," he said. "Our Guest Review System makes it easy for travelers to share their reviews on Facebook with their network of friends. It's a tool that independent hoteliers need for their properties, but without the cost of development."