Building a Culture of Feedback and Turning Reviews into Insights

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | October 02, 2016

Every hotel manager has a fear that wakes him or her up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. It isn't a standard fear that most people have; hotel leaders aren't in the throes of the dream where they showed up to a presentation naked. This particular fear has to do with the ink that's being spilled on the internet. It's the fear of a negative review on a major review site or social network.

To put context around the world we live in today, there are more than 3 million hotel reviews written each week. That's 18,000 reviews per hour. Needless to say, not all of them will be from guests who loved every moment of their stay.

Whether it was an employee having a bad day, a cleaning crew that hadn't gotten through their daily routine quickly enough, or something completely outside a hotel manager's control (guests who had an airline lose their luggage may not be in a terrific mood at arrival), the chances of a negative review popping up online are actually pretty good. It's how hotels handle things from there that will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Engaging With Guests on Their Own Territory

Smart hotel leadership today has come to realize that reviews are going to be written online, no matter what. And they've also come to realize that most customers who write a negative review might actually be asking for help, as opposed to engaging in some sort of virtual shaming.

In many cases, hotels that are willing to respond to guest concerns will find that their guests are willing to listen. And in many cases, they are willing to give a property another chance.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.