Being engaged with an audience on social media, and particularly on review websites, can be a winning public relations strategy for a company, but doing it properly can make the difference between gaining public support and ruining a company’s reputation. This is especially true when hotels respond to customer reviews online. Josiah Mackenzie, an author at reviewpro.com, has even published A Hotel’s Guide to Responding to Online Guest Reviews. In it, he lists a few basic tips for hotels to keep in mind when replying to customer feedback:
- Thank the reviewer for the feedback
- Respond to any positive comments
- Apologize for any legitimate negative experience
- Explain the steps you’ll take to prevent that from happening again
- Allow the guest to contact you offline if follow‐up discussion is needed
- Take it personally. Avoid angry, abusive responses—or any type of personal attack
- Question the reviewer’s legitimacy.
- Reply with a discount or coupon
- Use corporate‐speak that contains no meaningful information
In fact, knowing how to properly respond to online reviews (along with the obvious exceptional guest service, location, and overall room cleanliness) can earn a hotel a coveted TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award. ReviewTrackers.com recently published a case study that examines how some hotels put these and similar tips into practice in order to keep their clients satisfied and coming back.
For example, one guest who stayed at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, California, took to TripAdvisor and wrote they were:
“Very disappointed in the service, food quality and experience overall. In fact the only reason I didn’t give it only 1 star is because I visited on Memorial Day weekend so I am trying to cut them some slack. Don’t bother eating anything from one of their hotel restaurants. Beyond bad, although I should mention that the Addison restaurant which is on their grounds was closed so I am not talking that place in particular.”
The hotel responded and apologized in a very professional manner:
“Thank you for taking the time to share your valuable review. The experiences you described are not characteristic of the level of service our colleagues strive to provide, and we apologize your stay was unsatisfactory. Your feedback was shared with our team, and we look forward to the opportunity to welcome you back and exceed your expectations.”
The hotel addressed the issue the guest raised in their review, and relayed their feedback to those concerned in an attempt to make things right.This type of practice earned the Grand Del Mar a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award in 2012, and is an excellent example of great public relations.
On the flipside, hotels also need to know how to respond to positive feedback in order to further increase their reputation. ReviewTrackers.com also published a second case study about The Landmark London, a luxury hotel in London, England, and how they deal with both positive and negative reviews.
One guest who stayed at the hotel while attending the 2012 Summer Olympics wrote on TripAdvisor: “The service and staff could not have been more accommodating, especially the concierge. The location was excellent. Close to the tube and walking distance to Baker Street, Bond Street and The Marble Arch area. Have stayed at other 5 star hotels in London and would stay at The Landmark again.”
The hotel manager at The Landmark replied: “Thank you for selecting The Landmark during the London 2012 Olympics and we were delighted to read you enjoyed our location. It was very pleasing to read your comments, particularly, concerning our concierge team and we hope you enjoyed a very memorable time in London. It will be our pleasure to welcome you back.”
This kind of personal touch (addressing a specific compliment left by the reviewer) would make any guest feel welcome, and would keep them coming back. It also has the added benefit of solidifying a hotel’s positive image, and in the case of The Landmark, it earned them a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award in 2012 in the luxury hotels category.
As we can see, hotels that make use of the public relations strategy of addressing online reviews in a positive, constructive, and professional manner can have tremendous benefits for them. Keeping guests happy and coming back, and sharing their experiences can certainly help a hotel keep their image and reputation worthy of a guest’s stay.
Have you ever had either a positive or negative experience at a hotel and written a review online about it? What did the hotel say or do about it? Leave a comment on this post. We’d love to hear your story.