In recent years, social media and guest reviews have made a profound impact on the hotel industry. Savvy hotel operators who are willing and able to use guest feedback to improve their service can boost satisfaction and increase bookings, especially if they’re equipped with the right guest engagement software.
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In our annual look at the Megatrends that will shape travel in the year ahead, Skift reported that today’s hotel guests no longer rely on traditional brand messaging as the decisive reason to choose a hotel. Thanks to the spread of digital information and the proliferation of smartphones, guest reviews and social recommendations carry more weight.
“In the past, hotels were able to control what information was shared with prospective guests,” said Juan Abello, vice president of product management for hotel operations at Sabre Hospitality. “Now nearly all hotel information — the good, the bad, and the ugly — is freely available online via review sites, online travel agency (OTA) booking sites, and social media.”
According to Skift Research, 95 percent of travelers read reviews before booking a hotel, and 85 percent of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Good reviews and ratings consequently translate into higher sales volumes. That’s why guest satisfaction is closely monitored by many hotels as a key performance indicator (KPI) to guide strategic efforts to increase bookings and drive revenue.
“Hotel guests have more power than ever. A negative experience, expressed as a negative review, can adversely impact future bookings, while a hotel with positive reviews and a strong social media presence will experience an increase in bookings,” Abello said.
To maximize the potential of guest reviews, hotels need to encourage positive reviews, streamline communication, and invest in the right technology.
Encourage Positive Guest Reviews
It may sound obvious, but the most important factor in generating positive reviews is the quality of service experienced by a guest throughout their stay. Paying close attention to important details such as cleanliness and comfort will greatly increase a hotel’s chances of scoring positive reviews.
“An in-house concierge can make a guest’s stay more enjoyable by providing little extras that result in big guest satisfaction impacts, such as complimentary snacks or drinks and personalized welcome notes that make the guest feel special,” Abello said. “They can also recommend local activities or restaurants based on their knowledge of the area and guests’ personal tastes. While not every hotel can afford a concierge, a well-organized front desk team can accomplish many of the little extras listed above.”
Once hotels are confident in their quality of service, they should encourage guests to leave feedback and reviews, both during the guest’s stay and after checkout. Then, even when the feedback is negative, hotels should respond promptly and professionally.
“Responding to feedback and taking action on guest concerns demonstrates that the hotel values guests’ opinions and is committed to providing a high-quality experience,” Abello said.
Streamline Communication to Fuel Guest Satisfaction
Delivering stand-out service that inspires guests to write positive reviews requires a hotel operations platform that connects departments so communication can flow between them efficiently, ensuring critical information and tasks are addressed in a timely manner.
The availability of instant feedback through reviews and social media has made it possible for hotels to quickly understand the operational issues that negatively impact the guest experience.
“Operational efficiency, guest and staff communication, task completion, and guest engagement solutions are all interconnected and essential for creating an exceptional guest experience,” Abello said. “When operations are streamlined and efficient, guests are more likely to have a positive experience.”
Invest in the Right Technology
Hotels can better connect with guests and maximize positive reviews by investing in the right technology solution. A recent report by Revinate, a popular hospitality tech vendor, suggests that hotels using reputation and review management software observed a 15 percent increase in Tripadvisor ranking and a 409 percent increase in review volume.
In addition to using review management software, Abello explained that “hotels should consider implementing technology that makes the guest experience more convenient and streamlined. For example, make it easier for guests to request services and connect with hotel staff using a guest chat solution that increases staff efficiency and speeds up the completion of the request.”
With labor shortages continuing to plague the travel industry, chat tools like text messaging and guest-facing mobile applications can also help ease the pressure from short-staffed teams by anticipating guest needs through personalized offers and recommendations, making it easy for guests to communicate without having to walk to the front desk, and providing real-time updates when their room or food order is ready.
“Guests can make a request from the mobile app, which then flows directly into a task management solution where it is assigned to the correct staff member or department, speeding up the completion of tasks and ensuring that guests are served promptly,” Abello said.
An All-In-One Solution
Sabre Hospitality’s Nuvola solution ties everything together by streamlining communication between front-of-house and back-of-house teams and helping hotels react promptly to guest needs, thereby boosting guest satisfaction.
“The improved visibility and communication make it simple to assign and track tasks, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks,” Abello said. “Nuvola also helps hotels anticipate guest needs and react promptly, which drives satisfaction scores and property ratings. Plus, Nuvola provides a single platform to connect teams, tasks, and guests, ensuring consistency and a quality stay every time.”
According to Abello, one of the most useful features of Nuvola is the ability to track and manage room assignments for daily cleaning tasks based on guest preferences and labor productivity.
“We recently had a hotel adopt Nuvola that was previously managing guest messaging on a standalone solution and then transferring the activity to their housekeeping system manually,” Abello said. “This was a very cumbersome process and worked against their ultimate goal of streamlining activities at a time when staff shortages were adding a level of complexity to the hotel operations. Once they activated Nuvola, their guest messaging was automatically synced with the guest’s housekeeping preferences and all guest preferences were available to other teams to ensure guest needs were met according to brand standards.”
In addition to streamlining communication, driving operational efficiency, and ensuring positive guest experiences, Nuvola goes one step further by encouraging guests to leave reviews. For example, hotels can schedule an automated message to be sent to all guests upon checkout to motivate them to review their experience while it’s still fresh in their minds.
This approach is proving successful: According to a recent survey conducted by Sabre, 43 percent of Nuvola customers have seen their travel rating on TripAdvisor or similar websites improve since implementing Nuvola.
It all comes down to fostering a culture of continuous improvement, said Abello: “By encouraging continuous improvement and embracing new tools, hotels will more easily adapt to the changing expectations and needs of their guests to create an exceptional guest experience and receive positive reviews.”
For more information about how Nuvola can help hotels boost guest satisfaction and encourage positive reviews, click here.
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