The Art of Listening: One Hotelier’s Secret to Perfect Reviews

Several years ago when I was doing research for a trip to Tuscany, I was surprised to find that the hotel with an impeccable, full-five-circle rating was a four-room bed and breakfast. Seriously, there wasn’t a single disparaging comment. Sure, the views were amazing and the rooms were spacious and well decorated, but what stood out was that almost every review mentioned the owner by first name. Her name was Cinzia. You’re probably thinking, “Of course everyone knows her name, it’s just four rooms,” but it was more than that. This hotelier seemed to have mastered the art of being present and pleasant without being intrusive or smarmy.


Forgive the cliché, but it’s true: the hospitality business has become so business that it has forgotten the hospitality. GMs are suited up in STAR reports and meeting schedules, while the front desk is decked out in software glitches and key card problems.


When I think of the average three-star hotel and the people I see there, I picture cleaning staff. What I mean is, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t a manager of any sort. The cleaning staff are far more present than management. (Admittedly, they far outnumber management, too.) And when I think of my luxury hotel experiences, management is generally more present but not always in the sincerest way. There’s a stiffness, as though guests who can afford to stay at these properties have lost their humanity. What I’m getting at is that our impressions of hotel management aren’t generally as positive as they could be, because so often management either isn’t present or isn’t genuine.


I find myself coming back to the idea of authenticity over and over when I’m talking about social media, but it also applies to our day-to-day lives. What people want most in this ever disconnected world is true human interaction. They don’t want you there all the time, but when you are, they’d like for you to be real with them. Ask them about their trip because you care, not because you’re supposed to. And take their response to heart. Slow down and hear what they have to say and notice when they’re ready to be done and on their way. It’s an art, an art that will bring more full-five-circle reviews like Cinzia’s.

Tony Ciccarone

Tony Ciccarone is a web developer who is experienced in making high-quality professional websites, writing clean & reusable code, and creating data-driven web applications.

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