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GMs – How User Generated Review Sites
Can Make you a Better Manager!
 

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September 2007

User generated review sites are the ultimate mystery shopping experience – only they are free!  This is the guest speaking directly to you and the staff – this is better than a comment card.    It is easy to be critical of the review sites just as the industry has had a love/hate relationship with the online travel agencies.   

It all began with Trip Advisor that engendered the same reaction from many hoteliers as the online travel agencies did when they first arrived – platforms that many loved to hate.  Neither Trip Advisor, the online travel agencies or Web 2.0 are going away – they will only become more dominant in how our customers find us, research us and ultimately select their travel and hotel arrangements.    

If one has followed the studies beginning primarily at the beginning of the year, they confirm this trend.  In a recent survey, Yahoo Travel found that 61 percent of people now go online for vacation recommendations.  In addition,  the study suggested that a property’s reviews replaced price as the deciding factor in hotel selection. Travelers are no longer just searching for a hotel based on price; they are now making decisions based on user reviews, user ratings and photos.

The line between review sites and Online Travel Agencies is now totally blurred – review sites are becoming OTAs and the OTAs are (and have been for a while) user generated review sites!  The industry just didn’t pay a lot of attention to the reviews on Travelocity, et al, until Trip Advisor came to the conclusion that since people were selecting hotels based on the reviews, it may as well let them book hotels while they were there.

How can user generated reviews make you a better GM?

  • Guest Service.   Print and discuss all service related issues at staff meetings.  Use the reviews to coach and mentor department heads and employees.  Use positive reviews as a recommendation to potential associates that you are interviewing for employment – everyone wants to work for a winner! When you post responses to a review, print those out to indicate that you are responsive to what guests are saying about your hotel and that you take guest comments seriously.  
  • Monitor Operational Deficiencies.    If an issue is recurring in several reviews across several sites, that constitutes a trend – take action!  Rooms that are perceived as less than clean, persistent maintenance issues,   front desk processes – engage the staff in brainstorming solutions.  If a video is posted of an area with a deficiency, show it at staff meeting.  This way it isn’t personal coming from you – it is coming straight from the guest who recorded it.  Set an incentive for reviews that are good and fail to mention previous operational issues.  
  • Revenue Management.  Don’t’ just monitor your reviews, have your Revenue Manager monitor the reviews of your competition!   This is a window as to how your competitors are perceived by their and potentially your customers.   If your reviews are consistently better than those of your competitors, is it an opportunity to enhance your standing in the competitive set and even increase your rates?  When you are positioning your hotel in the competitive set, don’t forget to include the reviews of each of them in your positioning exercise.   TravelClick has a new tool called SearchView debuting in October that allows you to see not only your reviews but ranking with your competitors and it sorts the types of reviews by operational areas.
  • Sales and Marketing.    The GM is still the CMO -- Chief Marketing Officer of the hotel.   Use the status of good reviews on Trip Advisor et al, in promotional emails to your customers.   Incorporate your standing on the review sites as a third party recommendation to close the business.   This can be your trump card to beat out the competition when rate and offering are similar to a competitor whose reviews are not as good as yours.    Get up to speed on how your hotel is positioned on the small group booking sites as well as the meeting planner sites. 
  • Recommendations to Owners.    If a capital expense issue is consistently mentioned in reviews and illustrated by photos and videos posted about your property, you have a good third party reference as to why you need to make physical changes.  Justify your Capital Expenditure request with the videos and photos.   Quote and/or show them the studies of the influence of these sites and estimate how much revenue this issue is costing them.
Don’t fear the influence of these sites – make these sites a management tool to assist you in making your operation better --- and the best news is, they’re FREE!    



At Carol Verret and Associates we are leading by example.  Stay tuned for the Hotel Sales Blog coming in early September – we want to engage in a conversation with you about your hotel sales training issues.  We will also be featuring seminars and web casts that deal with how you can use Web 2.0 to your advantage. 

Carol Verret And Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on www.carolverret.com. To contact Carol send her an email at carol@carolverret.com or she can be reached by cell phone (303) 618-4065.

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004 -2005 - 2006 - 2007


 
Contact:
Carol Verret, Consulting and Training
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
carol@carolverret.com
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.com/
Email: carol@carolverret.com
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Also See: Web 2.0 and Hotel Sales Strategies for '08; What Are Your Clients Saying About You? / Carol Verret / August 2007
“It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow” -- Five Revenue Management Tactics for Independent Hotels / Carol Verett / June 2007
Developing New Hotel Business Using Client DNA / Carol Verret / May 2007
The Jigsaw Puzzle – The Fit of the Revenue Management and Internet Group Sales Pieces / Carol Verret / April 2007
Client DNA - The Gold Standard for New Business Development / Carol Verret / March 2007
The 'I Hate Cold Calls' Web Cast - The New Paradigm of Sales! / Carol Verret / February 2007
Hate Cold Calls? - Discover the New Paradigm of Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2007
Issues in Hotel Sales Training - Metics for Success / Carol Verret / December 2006
Is the Party Over?; The Challenge of Decreasing Hotel Room Demand / Carol Verret / October 2006
The Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People Ramp Up for 2006! / Carol Verret / September 2006
Identifying the WIIFM Factor – The Essential of Hotel Sales Success / Carol Verret / August 2006
Revenue Management for Hotel GMs – What You Don’t Know Can Jump Up and Bite You! / Carol Verret / July 2006
Feeding the Revenue Elephant; Hotel Revenue Management / Summer 2006 
The "Tipping Point" - Identifying the Touch Points in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / May 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Touch Points Make a Difference in Customer Service Training / Carol Verret / April 2006
Selling Up! Taking Group Room Revenue to a New Level / Carol Verret / February 2006
Revenue Management 2006; The Risks and Rewards / Carol Verret /January 2006 
Revenue Management and Group Sales - The Partnership Not the Disconnect / Carol Verret / November 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005
Triple Witching Hour - The Marketing Plan, Revenue Management Strategy and RFPs for '06 / Carol Verret / August 2005
"Smile" is a Learned Behavior - Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret / July 2005
Revenue Management Systems -- Considerations for Evaluation / Carol Verret / June 2005
Disconnect -- Aligning the Revenue Management and Sales Strategies / Carol Verret / May 2005
Independent Hotels & Resorts; Ride the Wave or Float with the Tide? / Carol Verret / March 2005
Hospitality Sales Training Companies Reach Across the Competitive Playing Field to Combine Live Seminar Expertise with  the Convenience of the Internet / Carol Verret / January 2005
Revenue Management - The Challenge for Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2005
Hotel Sales Departments -- Issues in Processes and Functionality / Carol Verret / November 2004
The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Mar 2003
Revenue Recovery - Building The ‘A’ Team in Sales / Carol Verret / January 2003
Contingency Marketing Plan – War In Iraq! / Carol Verret / November 2002
Playing the Rate Game - Positioning -- Positioning -- Positioning! / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Rate Game - Playing to Win / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Challenge of Marketing Independent Boutique Hotels / Carol Verett / August 2002
Hotel Sales in a Limited Service Environment - The Rules Have Changed / Carol Verett / August 2002
The General Manager’s Role in Sales -Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel / Carol Verret / April 2002
100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000



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