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By RJ Friedlander

Many forward-thinking hoteliers have already realized the importance of customer feedback in creating a more positive guest experience to improve operations, service and revenue. But like many hotel professionals, you might be confused about how to actually collect and analyze the abundance of Guest Intelligence that is available about your property. One of the best ways to discover how your guests feel about their stay is to do an online survey - either during the guest's stay or after they checkout (post-stay).  

Guest surveys are a key way of soliciting the specific, structured, verified feedback necessary to measure if service and operational standards are being met during each guest's stay. Addressing these operational issues to ensure greater guest satisfaction can positively impact your property's ranking on TripAdvisor, as well as other online review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs). An increased online reputation score can also positively impact your property's ADR and RevPAR (as evidenced in a Cornell University study). 

Last week, you read Part One of the article, which outlined the first three tips for developing the best possible guest survey. In Part One, we covered: 

Online works better than offline.

Less is more (when it comes to survey questions).

Use question logic to filter and personalize the questions that each guest is asked about their stay, based on the elements of the hotel that they experienced firsthand. 

Read more about these three tips in Part One. And now, here are the remaining three tips on how to create a highly effective guest survey: 

Mobile surveys for on-the-go guests

Today, "53% of total email opens occur on mobile devices - either smartphones or tablets"[1]. This includes your property's guest surveys. The guests who do read the email on their mobile device are also more likely to want to complete the survey on the same device; however, if your survey is not responsive (meaning that it will adjust based on the device on which it is being viewed to ensure "easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling[2]"), then the customer is much less likely to complete the survey at all. 

Participate in the TripAdvisor Review Collection Program

The TripAdvisor Review Collection Program helps hotels to gather valuable feedback data, while increasing review volume and ranking on TripAdvisor. When participating, hotels can embed the TripAdvisor review form into their survey. When the guest completes all of the survey questions, the answers will be sent to the hotel and posted on your hotel's TripAdvisor page as a guest review. Not only does this increase your review volume and freshness (both of which are important to boosting your ranking), it also facilitates the process of writing reviews for consumers, making it more likely that they will do so. 

Respond, Respond, Respond

Whether positive or negative, you should respond to as many guest surveys as resources allow. A prompt reply builds trust and a closer connection between the guest and the hotel, which is the first step in developing brand loyalty and repeat customers (direct bookings!).  

However, it is not always practical to respond to every survey so at the very least, you should reply to any that provide negative feedback, as well as any that require an apology. You should also respond if the survey response requires clarification, a personal 'thank you' or if the guest asks a specific question. Responses should come from a manager or other senior level executive to show that you consider the guest's feedback to be important.  

Responding to guest surveys is a four-step process:  

1.     Thank the person for the feedback. Let them know how much you appreciate that they took the time to share their thoughts and experience.

2.     Acknowledge mentions of any positives. Apologize for the issue (if any). If there was a serious problem, ask for a private number to communicate directly and consider offering the guest a small reimbursement or coupons for future stays at the property.

3.     Explain to the guest what you have done to ensure that the issue never happens again. Go into as much detail as necessary to illustrate how the issue has been resolved. 

4.     Thank them once again for their time and feedback, and invite them back for another stay.  

By implementing these six tips, you will see that guest surveys are a valuable tool that can proactively increase your property's occupancy, ADR and RevPAR. So what are you waiting for?  

If you have any questions on any of these guest survey best practices please contact us at marketing@reviewpro.com.

_________________

[1] Experian "Quarterly email benchmark report" (Q3 2014): http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design

About RJ Friedlander

RJ Friedlander is the co-founder and CEO of ReviewPro, the leading provider of guest intelligence solutions to independent hotel brands worldwide. RJ is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the company, as well as leading a team of more than 70 employees. He is a frequent speaker at hotel industry events, including PhoCusWright, ITB Berlin, World Travel Market London, The Hotel Investment Conference and the exclusive DLD Conference in Munich. Widely recognized as an expert in hotel technology and online reputation management has also taught classes at the Cornell University of Hotel Management, IESE, ESADE and the Instituto de Empresa (IE).

Contact: Jennifer Nagy

jenn@reviewpro.com / +1.786.420.1160

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