Today we talk to Thomas Landen, who has worked for more than ten years in international marketing and sales within the hospitality industry. He is currently head of marketing for EMEA at Revinate in Amsterdam.
Does reputation management make sense for hotels of every size?
In today’s online world, reputation management is something every hotel should prioritize, regardless of their size. When asked by TripAdvisor, 93% of travelers said that online reviews impact their booking decisions, and that 53% of travelers say they won’t book a hotel that doesn’t have any online reviews. Guests also trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. So, every hotel should actively manage its online reputation.
How active hotels are in managing their reputations is something that varies by hotel. At a minimum, I suggest monitoring the major review channels like TripAdvisor and responding to negative reviews. Small hotels in particular can benefit tremendously from responding to online reviews. It is an easy and cost-effective way to stand out against your competition and showcase your hotel’s unique offerings and services.
How should a hotel react to negative reviews?
The first thing to do is respond in a personal way. Every response should be tailored to the reviewer’s specific complaint, rather than copying and pasting a standard response. This can make the unhappy guest, and prospective guests who may read the response online, feel that the hotel does not care about the poor experience.
Secondly, when responding to a negative review, the hotel should research the details of the issue and address it directly. This can mean apologizing for the poor experience, giving testament to why the experience was atypical, and providing specific ways the hotel will ensure an improved experience in the future
Finally, it’s important not to take a bad review personally. Hoteliers are very passionate about their hotels and service, and sometimes they can take feedback very personally, which can lead to angry or defensive responses. This is the worst thing you can do. There are plenty of examples of hotels that responded poorly to negative reviews and received a lot of bad publicity as a result. It’s also worth noting that, according to a Phocuswright survey, 64% of TripAdvisor users agree that an aggressive or defensive management response to a bad hotel review “makes me less likely to book that hotel.”
Overall, it’s important to remember that feedback is not a personal attack, but more of a reflection on how guests experience your service. Accept the feedback and learn from the key points. For more tips and tricks, I would suggest reading this guide on how to respond to negative reviews, written by our team.
What can hotels do to offer their guests a great personal guest experience?
Together with Anna de Visser from Hotelschool, The Hague, I recently wrote an article about guest experiences. One of the takeaways is that experiences are created by small things. Guests should be the center of hotel management’s thinking when services and experiences are designed. For me personally, service is more about the human interaction then the physical hotel. I have stayed in hotels with less than perfect rooms but had a fantastic experience because of the staff. And for hotel managers, the most direct impact they have is on their own staff.
What is your opinion of cloud-based PMS systems?
Cloud is the future for all hotel systems, and I believe it is a good idea for hoteliers to move their PMS data into the Cloud. Cloud-based PMS offers a much more flexible solution in terms of access to your data and API connections to other technology. It shocks me when I hear that hoteliers have challenges analyzing and exporting their own data from their PMS systems.
One of our mutual customers, Village Hotel Club, switched to the hetras cloud PMS, and, as a result, set up Revinate Surveys™ with a direct data integration. With this integration, they were able to automatically collect over 25,000 completed surveys. The surveys also included the option for guests to write a review on TripAdvisor, which drastically increased the hotel group’s review volume and resulted in improved TripAdvisor Popularity Index rankings for twenty-one of their properties.
What does the future of reputation management look like?
Reputation will become more detailed and personal in the future. Consumers are already starting to read recommendations based on their profiles and what kind of trip they are planning. On sites like TripAdvisor, there are filters that users can select in order to see the reviews that are most relevant to them, like reviews written by someone traveling with children versus someone traveling alone on business. This will continue to improve, and, over time, will be linked to personal profiles, so individuals automatically get relevant reviews.
Furthermore, reviews will become increasingly more social. The divide between traditional social media and reviews is already shrinking, especially with TripAdvisor’s integration with Facebook, and will continue to do so in the future. This is important for hotels, because now hotels that are reviewed on Facebook show up higher in the rankings seen by those Facebook users’ friends. This is a change from the traditional way of displaying the number one hotel in a region at the top of a page. For hoteliers, it is now even more crucial to generate more reviews to improve ranking and, therefore, appear closer to the top of the page.
Thomas Landen lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and is the head of marketing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Revinate. Within his position, he is responsible for extending Revinate’s thought leadership, driving overall marketing operations, and building and maintaining relations with hoteliers in his region. Prior joining Revinate, He speaks regularly at conferences, such as HSMAI, ITB, Digi.Travel, and is a visiting lecturer at Hotelschool Maastricht on the topic ‘hotel technology and marketing.’ Thomas serves as an advisory board member for the Academy of International Hospitality Research (AIHR) and TIO University. In his spare time like to run and cycle or travel together with his family.