In the age of technology, there is no better marketing than the kind word. For anyone in the hotel business – and I spent years as a General Manager myself – generating good reviews has become essential, not just as a tool for driving custom but as a way of holding up a window to the work that we do.
They also act as a form of motivation. An underlying truth I’ve found is that the better the reviews are, the more focus there is on trying to maintain high service standards. They become almost self-fulfilling.
And positive reviews online can work wonders. They represent your property in a way that shows you care about each individual guest – which is precisely how it should be. Below are my tips for garnering more positive reviews.
Don’t just meet your guests’ expectations – go beyond them
Different groups of guests have their own specific needs and requirements. Perhaps your hotel receives a lot of millennials, or baby boomers, or family groups – in each case, they all have different expectations when it comes to accommodation, facilities and service.
So what does it actually mean, to meet a guest’s expectations? Firstly, it’s crucial that what you offer on your website, or another sales portal, matches what you’re going to provide. The room pictures you upload should reflect what guests will see when they open their door for the first time. And if you offer free breakfast, parking or Wi-Fi, make absolutely sure this is what your guests get.
When you match your promise, that generates positive feedback. But you should always strive to go above the expectations of the guests – and the best part about the hotel industry is that ideas and creativity have no limits. You can always do something better.
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Offer a complimentary room upgrade
Guests will know the room type they’ve booked, so their expectations have been set. If they’re then told at check-in that they’re being given a room upgrade, their reaction becomes easy to predict – and will, more often than not, bring a positive review. It won’t always be possible to offer an upgrade, of course, but if you can, do.
The approach works especially well with guests who might be visiting your hotel for the second time. And if they ask what they’ve done to deserve an upgrade? A well-trained receptionist knows the answer: we just want this stay to be memorable for you.
Write a welcome letter
In the hotel world, the small things are fundamental. A little attention to detail can make a big difference. Leave a welcome letter in each room, addressed by name to the guest who’s staying there. If the guest is a first-time visitor to your hotel, give them a warm welcome and an overview of the amenities on offer, including when and where breakfast is served.
If it’s a repeat guest, welcome them back. Show them that they’re not just recognised from their earlier visit but highly valued, too. This means a lot. If you write from the heart, and feel what you write, the guest will take notice.
Leaving a small gift for guests can also be an effective idea. This might be anything from a bottle of water to a plate of fruit or cookies. If a guest arrives in their room to find a welcome letter and something complimentary, it can work magic for the reviews you earn.
Encourage your guests to leave a review
So how can you maximise your chances of a guest writing a review? One tip is to have a stack of business-card sized notes at reception. On check-out, the receptionist should – as always – ask about the guest’s stay, and whether they’ve been satisfied with the service they’ve received. If the guest responds positively, hand over a note card, thanking the guest for their stay on one side and politely asking them to leave a review on the other.
Alternatively, drop them a quick email, thanking them for their stay, expressing your hope that they might stay with you again and, finally, requesting that they might find the time to leave a quick review.
You don’t have to spend a fortune implementing any of the steps above. The bottom line is that a small amount of investment and effort can result in greater reputation and greater revenue. Start tomorrow, and within two months you’ll see the difference in your reviews.
Aim not just to meet your guests’ expectations, but exceed them
Simple steps like writing a welcome letter or offering a room upgrade can work wonders
Without being pushy, be sure to encourage guests to leave a review