5 Hospitality Experts: Online Reputation Strategy 2023
The year 2022 will always go down as the year hospitality recovered, but it also helped us to devise a better online reputation strategy in 2023. For this article, we asked five senior leaders from brands such as Silken Hoteles, Radisson Hotel Group, Minor Hotels, Claremont Hotels group, and Shiji:
What three lessons from 2022 would you choose to guide your online reputation strategy in 2023?
The full results can be found below, and if you would like to read our 2022 Global Hotel Review Benchmark, where they are quoted along with a wealth of free reputation data, download it here.
Group Director Operational Excellence, Minor Hotels
One key takeaway from the past year is that introducing digital solutions in place of face-to-face encounters no longer comes with the perception that our industry is dehumanising guest experiences. In fact, guests value the opportunity to interact with brands on their preferred platforms. Online reputation strategy in 2023 should consider emerging technology and data capture opportunities to help improve and personalise guest experiences, both on and offline.
Data is at the heart of Minor Hotels’ initiatives as we work on solutions to some of the key questions that arose during the past year. 1. What data/technology can our front-line teams leverage to quickly, easily and meaningfully enhance guest experience? 2. What channels for sharing sentiment would be more convenient for our guests (SMS, voice, video, in-app) and how can we integrate these with our current data analytical tools? 3. How can we access and organise operational and behavioural data to identify trends, predict changes, support decision making and ensure our guests feel valued at every step of their journey?
These questions are inspired by lessons we learned in 2022. But as always, simple ORM practices are often the most effective. Reply to guests when they write to us or about us, reply quickly, and reply with compassion and gratitude
Global Distribution & ORM Assistant Manager, Silken Hoteles
Lesson 1: focus on balancing guest expectations and reality to protect online reputation. Guest experience starts before guest’s arrival to the hotel.
Lesson 2: focus on balancing revenue and operations on high season to protect “value for money”.
Lesson 3: Communication and Technology are best friends. There is so much we can do to improve guest satisfaction and technology is a good pillar to lean on to improve communication with our guests.
Chief Commerical Officer, Clermont Hotel Management Ltd
In 2022, as the world began to recover from the pandemic, we saw significant changes in our customers’ behaviours and expectations at Clermont Hotel Group. Quickly understanding these changing expectations, and how our teams delivered against them, was vital for developing our brand offering and improving our customer experience. These learnings have formed the foundation for our continuous improvement plans for 2023.
Key to these learning was the understanding of cultural bias our different customers have when rating and providing feedback. For some customers 7/10 may indicate a quite disappointing experience, while at the same time, for others, it may be high praise. Using the semantics analysis allowed us to move beyond simply measuring by scores and gave us greater insight into where improvements could be made.
Our last key learning is that authenticity trumps ticking a box. Responding to all our feedback is important, however if the feedback is not genuine and is formulaic, then there is no engagement with the customer. In some instances, a generic response may do more harm than no response at all. We make sure that if questions are asked, then we answer them; if critical feedback is given, then it is acknowledged and taken onboard. Responding authentically, and consistently has more positive impact than simply setting and measuring targets to respond to 100% of reviews.
Director, Global Brand Experience & Quality, Radisson Hotel Group
At Radisson Hotel Group our vision is to become the brand of choice for guests, owners & talent. To this effect, our quality and brand experience strategy puts the guest at the forefront of everything we do. We aim to deliver unique experiences across the entire guest journey and use semantic analysis, as well as consumer insights, to modify existing experiences or create relevant ones. This ensures we deliver Memorable Moments to our guests every day.
Continuous monitoring and reporting of performance against targets enables us to detect drops in online reputation and react quickly. Anticipating the effects that elements which are outside our control (such as the energy shortages or supply chain issues we faced in 2022) have on our quality scores and setting-up corrective actions before they arise helps us mitigate the negative impact on online reputation.
Lastly, our goal for 2023 is to continue to empower and educate our team members and owners on the importance of online reputation, to foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Senior Director Account Management APAC, Shiji
- Hoteliers need to manage the fact that they are facing an ever-changing labour landscape. With a shortage in labour, the established SOPs may not be followed as closely and may result in a drop in the usual standards which guests are expecting. The impact may be much more obvious in the 4-star and 5-star luxury establishments. In order to manage the shortfall in staff strength, some hotels opt to operate at a certain percentage of their usual maximum occupancy, to cater to their in-house guests more efficiently without having to compromise their service standards considerably. It is also key to manage this impact on the reputation across the organization, from operations such as front desk, service staff, housekeeping to reservations and marketing.
- Automating some tasks may yet be another strategy to stay agile. Implementing automation such as a chatbot will help to relieve pressure on the operations staff and provide guests with an effective platform to get the simple answers they require. This in turn helps to improve the overall guest experience, in areas that typically create a lot of frustration due to the waiting time.
- One important lesson out of many others learnt from COVID would have been to invest in employees and to retain your best talents. Hiring the right people and retaining them may not have always been a priority for most organizations. There is always a mindset that employees can be easily displaced and replaced. A shift in that mindset needs to take place. For organizations that did manage to keep their talents, they were able to react better when the market recovered.
- React fast and adapt to the changes. We have witnessed organizations recover quickly from a drop in the GRI when they are agile. They accept changes and react to them to cope with the situation. Visibility can provide organizations with the possibility to be agile. Make full use of your data, make informed decisions to quickly understand what needs to be improved – quickly and confidently. Managing the rates and expectations from the Sales & Marketing aspect will also be key to ensuring the guests leave the hotel satisfied.
- Reviews remain key to consumers’ buying decisions and should be key when considering online reputation strategy 2023. It is more critical than ever to have a good online reputation. Consumers are going to travel more and sooner than before since COVID taught us all a lesson to not take the possibility of travel for granted. Broader and quicker adoption of e-commerce since COVID modified the consumers’ shopping patterns during the lockdowns may equate to a shift to more online bookings. A good online reputation, positive comments on the hotel’s offerings, and how hoteliers are reacting to their positive and negative reviews will have a huge impact on the consumer’s decision-making process.