Consumer Reviews in the Digital Age: How to Drive Incremental Revenue From Your Guest's Feedback
By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | October 2013
Adapted from content provided by Kelly A. McGuire, PhD., Executive Director, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS and Natalie Osborn Senior Industry Consultant, Hospitality & Travel Global Practice for SAS.
All good hoteliers understand the value of listening to their guests. From hearing what they think of new promotions, to decor and interaction with key customer-facing staff members – opinions of guests are powerful tools and can help align a hotel's offering with its target customers. In the digital age guest feedback is becoming even more important, as recent research suggests that not only does social media have a relationship with lodging performance, but that it also impacts the behavior of consumers. Hoteliers need to make sure they are not only asking their guests for feedback in the traditional manner, though guest surveys to help improve a properties offering, services, but they also need to monitor social media for unsolicited feedback through reviews and ratings so that they can help determine their property's pricing power and pricing strategies in the future.
The Importance of Traditional Guest Feedback
It's easy to get excited about the huge potential social media offers; however, traditional guest survey mechanisms are still important. This is because they ask guests questions about specific items they may not think to mention in tweets, Facebook posts, ratings and reviews. For example, a hotel may want to gain specific feedback on a newly launched service experience, such as a new day spa, to gain insights into how this can be improved and how well it is being received by customers. Or it may want to assess whether specific service experiences, such as speed of service or customer service, are improving or declining, or gain feedback on how current service experiences are being interpreted by the guests to help shape ideas for new service experiences. For example, gauging the satisfaction of the current room service offering, and whether it needs to be improved. To gain these kinds of insights, hotels must ask specific questions, to gain this invaluable feedback.
But as well as making sure the right questions are being asked, it's also important they are asked at the right time. For timely and accurate feedback, it is important to solicit feedback from guests at the point of experience. Generally hotels will get a better range and quality of feedback if they ask for feedback during the guests service experience or immediately after, such as at the end of the meal in the restaurant, or by placing a feedback form on the room service tray for return with the tray, or during the spa treatment, versus waiting for a few days after the guest checks-out before sending them a survey. Often the only guests who respond to the two days later survey are those that are "extremely satisfied" or "extremely dissatisfied". Asking for feedback at the point of experience will give you a better range of feedback between these two extremes.
The Rise of Unsolicited Guest Feedback through Social Media, Ratings and Reviews