Responding to Reviews: Not the First, but the Last Step in Reputation Management
We talk a lot about reputation management as marketing. Someone in marketing, perhaps yourself, makes sure negative feedback is being addressed. Maybe there’s a quick overview of the feedback at the morning meeting, and others are asssigned property or service improvements. Then that line item is checked, and it’s time to go back to creating deals to keep weekday rooms full and pounding the pavement for group bookings.
I’m here today to suggest that reputation management should be elevated to a guiding principle of a property; it’s not simply an item on one marketing person’s checklist. I once suggested that reputation is equivalent to branding, but I believe it’s actually much more important than that. Reputation runs through every aspect of a property—from start to finish of every stay—then it follows the guest home and gets spread around to friends and family over coffee and shared with the rest of the world online.
In my last post about reputation management and the right hotel guest, I said it’s better to have fewer of the right guests than a house full of the wrong guests. This is reputation management. So is the greeting a guest gets when they post on Facebook before their visit. The turndown service. The length of time it takes to have room service delivered. The kindness of the housekeeping staff. The helpfulness of the concierge. The condition of the paint in the hallways. And whether or not your guest has a nice time in your city. Every single detail affects your hotel reputation, and reputation gets recycled over and over now every time someone sits down to share their experience on Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Instagram, and hundreds of other places.
A lot of people think of reputation management as sitting down to tell someone you appreciate their feedback and will address their concerns—or, conversely, that you’re so glad they enjoyed your property. In fact, this is the very last step. The first step is decided what you want your reputation to be, and then ensuring that’s a part of every initiative. I think you’ll find you’re responding to many more pieces of positive feedback with this approach.