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You Love Our Hotel? So What.

Why Selective Hospitality is Not Okay

By Carla Caccavale, hospitality consultant & brand strategist

Imagine a guest walks up to the front desk of your property and says, “I absolutely love your hotel! It has the most comfortable beds ever, your staff could not be any nicer and the meal I had last night in your restaurant was the best I’ve had in ages. Outstanding!” The person behind the front desk just looks at them and says nothing.  Not a word.  Complete silence and a blank stare.  You would be appalled.  That’s the opposite of hospitality and, in fact, it’s just downright rude.

So tell me why is it okay when guests write glowing online hotel reviews that they go unanswered?  No reply, no thank you, not a management response in sight.  I must have missed the memo that it’s okay to opt out of being nice to guests online.  Silly me.

Quite frankly, it’s silly you if you are letting positive feedback fall on deaf ears.  It’s not okay to practice selective hospitality.  Thanking people for their praise and feedback is not optional, whether it happens online or in person.  In fact, it has been proven that hotels that respond to guest reviews see the return:

  1. Hotels that respond to online guest reviews, whether positive or negative, average 6% higher review scores than those who don’t.

  2. Management responses are so important that 68% of people say they would choose a hotel with management responses over a comparable hotel without them.

  3. Even negative reviews that have responses have a positive impact with 79% of travelers saying they feel reassured by the seeing the hotel is listening.

Facts and stats and numbers aside, we should be responding to our guests because it’s the right thing to do; it’s common courtesy.  We’re in the hospitality business and that means we have to be hospitable in person and online.  Ignoring a glowing review is really no different than a staffer giving a guest the silent treatment in person.

We want our guests to go and tell their friends, tell TripAdvisor, tell the world if humanly possible, how much they love us.  Yet when a guest goes home, posts an awesome review and they hear crickets you are sending a message: Out of sight, out of mind.  We don’t care what you have to say when you leave here.  You love our hotel? So what.

Imagine how different it would be if this were the management response seen underneath the review:I can’t begin to tell you how happy it made me to read about your experience at our hotel. The team here strives to make each guest experience as close to perfect as humanly possible.  When we accomplish that goal we’ve done our job.  I am so honored that you choose NAME OF HOTEL while you were in NAME OF CITY.  And we’re extremely grateful that you took the time out of your busy schedule to share this wonderful feedback.  I really appreciate it and know the team will as well when I share it with them.  We look forward to welcoming you back again the next time you are in town. If I can do anything for you during your next visit to our hotel, please do not hesitate to call me. The front desk would be happy to connect you to my office.

The guest who wrote that review just fell in love all over again. They are thinking: “Just when I thought this hotel couldn’t get any better, I get this thoughtful reply.” Not only do they want to come and stay with you again, they want to shake your hand.  Class act.

In a recent chat with an industry colleague who works with a global hotel brand she shared that the goal set for responding to reviews is 80% of the negative and 20% of positive.  Wow.  I know what you are thinking though; it is time consuming.  Well, I can tell you that it takes less time to thank a past satisfied guest than it does to court a new one.

The next time you think of letting a glowing review go unanswered, you might as well tell your staff to put the phone on mute when they answer.  You can’t afford to ignore those who love you.

Takeaway lessons:

  1. Common courtesy needs to be carried over online.

  2. Don’t take guests’ feedback for granted.

  3. Selective hospitality is the anti-hospitality.

  4. Online reputation management done right leads to more revenue in repeat guests and new guests who read and appreciate your thoughtful responses.

She is on a continuous mission: seek out excellence in customer service. Carla’s passion for the online review space stems from a belief in shaping the best possible guest experience. Making a stay memorable translates into great things for a hotel or brand; personalization and attention to detail are paramount. Done right this translates into praise in the form of reviews, comments across social media platforms and word of mouth. Carla’s passion is contagious. Her opinions are strong. Her posts are widely read and commented on across sites such as Tnooz, HOTELS magazine and HotelChatter. From why hotels should not practice selective hospitality, how to redefine SEO and a reminder to stay high-touch in this hi-tech world, Carla is a believer in building brand advocates in a meaningful way.

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