Check In Online for a Healthier Bottom Line: Embracing the Value of Ratings and Reviews
By Gareth Gaston Senior Vice President Global eCommerce, Wyndham Hotel Group | February 17, 2013
Social media. It's everywhere – in our personal lives, in our professional lives. But what does it really mean? As a business owner, "social media" can be scary, too big or irrelevant. But it's not. Its impact is growing by leaps and bounds each year. Through social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor, we share our experiences with friends, strangers, brands and companies. In the past, customers would talk to ten people about their experiences; now, thanks to the plethora of social media networks available to us, those same individuals have the ability to tell hundreds, if not thousands, of people about those same experiences. And this is especially true for travel experiences. Guests are apt to share the good, the bad and the ugly. The question is, "What's an hotelier to do?"
Today, many travelers use online ratings and reviews to rate their travel experiences and air their grievances. Rich Barton, the former Microsoft executive who founded Expedia, once said, "If it can be reviewed, it will be reviewed." Ratings and reviews posted by travelers are critical in a consumer's decision-making process: Forrester research tells us that half of consumers will not book a hotel before reading an online review and market research firm Opinion Research Corporation reports 84 percent of Americans say their buying decisions are highly influenced by online ratings and reviews. For the hotel industry, ratings and reviews are one of the top priorities in the world of social media, as transparency is becoming increasingly important to travelers.
The hotel industry, while making strides, has not yet fully embraced the vital importance of ratings and reviews. But by engaging with and responding to online customer feedback in the right ways, hoteliers are able to improve their products and service, drive more online traffic and shape their hotels' reputation – all of which can make for a much healthier bottom line. By not engaging appropriately in this space, hoteliers and brands alike risk missing out on huge opportunities to gain market share, drive rates and build customer loyalty.
Improve Customer Satisfaction
A business can't be successful without happy customers and we don't know if they're happy if we don't listen to them. Paying attention to ratings and reviews is one of the best and most impactful ways to do this. Guests are talking and we need to both listen and respond to them.
If a guest came to the front desk of your hotel and complained about poor service or a dirty room, what would you do? Would you ignore the guest? Ask the guest to file a formal complaint? Or would you try to find a way to fix the problem and do everything possible to win back that customer? Of course, any quality hotelier would take the necessary steps to address the situation head on. It's critical that we handle online ratings and reviews in the same way.
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