Hotel Reputation: put a stop to negative reviews

In an increasingly connected world, the online reputation of hotels can be jeopardized by any “permanent” judgment or comment posted by an unsatisfied guest. These reviews can be true sometimes, in case the staff or the property have not met the expectations of guests. Anyhow, looking for a low-cost solution and expecting a 5-star service, is the start of a negative experience. In some circumstances customers can really experience a bad service, while in other cases, events or complaints reported in negative reviews would have no reason to be published if management dealt with (unpredictable) situations correctly - situations that fall within daily business activities of hospitality professionals.

 

Nowadays, it is mandatory to maintain high standards and offer quality services in order to prevent that the guest, who is more and more inclined to externalize his experience on social media, negatively reviews his stay at your property.

Complaints are widespread in all hotels, even the most prestigious ones who must indeed be armed with patience to accommodate the bizarre requests and / or complaints of the most demanding guests. Some criticisms might be caused by events outside management’s control, while others instead, as in the case of those who complain because the ice is too cold, might be impossible to solve.

 

Perseverance, initiative and kindness are the elements that can save your online reputation.

Below are 7 tips on how to best manage guests’ complaints, regardless of your hotel type (resort, b&b or business) that can turn out to be handy whenever you and your staff have to solve unpleasant or difficult situations:

 

1. Take responsibility

You must reasonably face every complaint as genuine and not as a whim or an opportunity for the guest to create unnecessary problems. After all, the purpose of your property is to provide a satisfactory experience to your customer and if the latter complains, then something went wrong. Not giving weight to a complaint, even a small one, is the worst thing you can do because often this attitude worsens a situation that could have easily been solved with minimum efforts. You must not need to take the blame always, especially if the event was unpredictable, but apologizing sincerely to a guest is the first step to start a positive conversation and solve the problem together.

 

2. Reduce the stress level

Some guests may be unstable, difficult to predict, unreasonable or simply emotionally charged. Do your best to remain calm and professional, listen carefully to what they have to say, look at them in the eyes, call them by name and take notes of their problems: this will make it clear to your guests that you are taking the situation seriously and will help both to have a cooperate attitude. It is good practice to "separate" guests who complain from others, so that other people are not involved in the story. To avoid misunderstandings or incomplete information transfer, we also recommend you to narrow down the responsibility to solve the problem to the fewest people possible.

 

 

3. It is an unexpected event, not a war

Very often, unfortunately, both sides treat these events as a battle that must be won. This is undoubtedly the worst way to deal with the situation and certainly the one that will not lead to a friendly resolution and probably become the subject of a negative review online. In these cases, it is important not to get defensive and under no circumstances blame the guest or insult him. You should instead, handle the situation in the same way you deal with other tasks of the hotel, following procedures for a satisfactory conclusion. You and your guest must listen to each other, clear any doubts and make sure you are on the same page.

 

4. Understanding what the guest wants

Do not be afraid to face the problem by digging into the real motivation that pushes the guest to complain with your staff. Once the guest is more relaxed, ask a few questions to better understand how you can help him. Perhaps he is complaining about the slow internet connection, but only because he cannot speak with his loved one on Skype. Knowing the exact nature of the complaint makes you understand the core of the problem and gives you the opportunity to find alternative solutions, allowing you to solve the situation faster and in a more satisfactory way.

 

5. Shared satisfaction
Although the customer is always right, you cannot always accommodate all complaints. Guests will probably be annoyed if you and your staff can not solve the situation exactly as requested, but you cannot always satisfy all needs. For example, if a guest requests a refund but your company policy does not allow it, you can’t give him money back. However, you can find alternative solutions such as offering a non-financial compensation: an upgrade, extra services at no additional cost, free use of specific services, late check-out.
 
6. Speed
Of course, you want to solve the situation as soon as possible: the faster you face the problem, the less likely the guest will leave a negative review afterwards. Guests will surely appreciate an honest recognition and a quick action. Your goal is to make the complaint distant in their mind once their experience comes to an end.
 
7. Follow up
Once you have successfully achieved a positive outcome, you must follow up, specifically once the situation has calmed down, you should verify with the client that everything is really ok: ask him if he was happy with how the issue has been solved and if there is anything else you can do to help him. You can also do this after their stay by email or phone, follow up is important if you want to encourage the guest to come back and especially if you want to avoid negative reviews online.
In a world increasingly dominated by online reviews, the fact that the guest leaves your hotel satisfied must be the first of your thoughts.
 

 

Concluding
Ensuring an efficient service to your guests is undoubtedly at the basis of a positive stay experience. Often, most complaints arise from a lack of attention of the customer’s needs or lack of efficiency by staff in handling the interaction with the guest. Not only it’s important to prepare your staff to handle these situations correctly, but it fundamental to provide valid tools to your staff to be able to offer a precise and timely service to guests in a consistent way.
 
For example, Ericsoft's all-in-one PMS system, thanks to a centralized management, makes hotel operations belonging to the different departments automatic: from online sales, to guest management and email marketing activities. Below are some aspects and activities that positively affect the way guests are handled:
 
- reduction in waiting time at reception thanks to the online check in service (very important aspect especially for those customers traveling for work or with children);
 
- automatic processes that sustain staff in managing the guest and his reservation;
 
- single database containing all conversations between the hotel and the guest to have all information related to the customer’s preferences at hand;
 
- reduction in manual workload of staff, who can spend less time entering data in the PMS system and more time taking care of guests;

 

- extra attention to the customer before his arrival, by sending emails containing detailed information on how to reach the hotel or other useful information to enjoy their stay;

 

- evaluation questionnaires and safe trip home e-mails to verify guests’ satisfaction levels, to analyze which aspects of the stay are evaluated positively and which must be improved.

 

 

 

To find out how an all-in-one PMS can help your staff in guest management activities, call us at +39 0541 604894 or fill out the form below, we will be at your disposal to show you, without commitment, how to take advantage of our technology to satisfy your guests.

 

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