No matter how much you are on top of your game, and how hard you try, sometimes things simply do not go as planned. No worries, it is natural that mistakes or mishaps happen from time to time.
The question is what are you doing about it? How are you handling the situation to avoid getting a negative review online. You need a good hotel reputation management plan to deal with such situations. Do you stick to just the basics or do take it to another level?
Let's be realistic we work in an industry where we are 'on stage' 24/7. We can't be perfect all the time, however hard we try. Guests are willing to accept this as well. It just comes down to how we handle the situation.
Let's start with the basics ...
First and foremost, the guest wants to be heard. He needs to vent. Take your time and show that you are really interested in what he has to say. So let him talk, and get his frustration out. He needs to feel taken serious.
Besides simply listening you need to show the guest you understand his frustration. It is always good to mention you would be upset as well if the same happened to you. Empathizing is one of the golden rules of complaint handling of course.
So let's make sure our hotel staff is well trained in handling guest complaints, and is empowered to resolve problems. We need to create a culture of openness to guest feedback.
Make sure complaints are logged as well. It will help with preventing problems from repeating itself. As well the team on the next shift needs to be informed on what happened with the guest to avoid situations of ignorance.
Ok nice, a bunch of basics ... I am sure you already know all of this ...
But how do we really turn this guest around? How do we ensure that we turn the unsatisfied guest into a client for life and a great ambassador for our hotel.
Yes, how do we truly make him happy again (and avoid that negative review) ?
Simple, by doing something unexpected. Yes, its that easy. The guests expects you to listen, empathize and make right. The consumer of nowadays is highly educated and expects to be treated professionally in case of a problem.
So how do we exceed these expectations?
Last week I was at one of our client hotels, the Townhouse Hotel in Maastricht, and in our annual strategic session the topic reputation management was of course discussed. I was really impressed with their mentality to handling guest complaints.
All the basics I mentioned above are in place of course, and they also went the extra mile to make the guest feel truly appreciated.
At the judgement of the staff (not the managers) a 'apology package' is placed in the room of the guest. A little token of appreciation with a handwritten not ... Take a look at the images below;
They are sending a clear message to guests: 'We truly care about you!'
I love it!
The handwritten note from the staff member that dealt with the guest handling the complaint makes it really personal.
Really smart ...
And the guests' response is tremendous. They love it ... The complaint is usually quickly forgotten after this token of sincerity.
Not for nothing that this 3 star hotel is number 2 on TripAdvisor for their destination. They really get what guest service is all about.
So when we are talking about hotel marketing, social media and reputation management, we should go back to our operations and service and review how we handle guest complaints. Because negative reviews can easily be avoided, with simple gestures.
If you have any other creative examples or best practices please share them in the comments section below.
Patrick Landman @ Xotels