Industry Update
Opinion Article14 October 2016

The One Thing You Control When It Comes To TripAdvisor Reviews

By Alex Shashou, President & co-founder of ALICE

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The influence of reviews on traveler's booking behaviors is well established. Some 95% of travelers consult reviews before making a purchase. And data from TripAdvisor reveals almost all of their visitors consult some 6-12 reviews before purchasing a trip.

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Review sites' also have a direct impact on a hotel's bottom line.. One recent study by Cornell University found that if a hotel increased its review score by 1 point on a 5-point scale, it could increase its prices by 11.2 percent without sacrificing occupancy or market share.

Despite hotels' preoccupation with their rankings, less attention is focused on the exact dynamics of these reviews and the practical and immediate ways in which hoteliers can positively influence guest feedback.

What are the three primary components of a TripAdvisor review?

TripAdvisor ratings are comprised of ratings, from one to five, along three lines: service, location, and value.

For hotels, improving their location score is a relative non-starter - there's little a hotelier can do to change that.

Making appreciable differences to value is doable, but potentially expensive.

Service, however, is where hotels can directly control improvements in their online ratings. And service happens to also be the foundation of online feedback.

A 2016 study by the Revenue Strategy Summit (RSS) found service was the top guest issue revealed through online reviews, and by quite some margin.

What is "service" when it comes to reviews?

The "service" component of a review is actually a giant opportunity for hotels looking to improve their position on TripAdvisor.

Let's dig into what service really means when it comes to reviews. "Service" in hotels has many forms, but when it comes to reviews, most guest frustrations typically hinge on holes in communication. Specifically, guests express dissatisfaction in reviews over instances in which they made requests that were not (or poorly) fulfilled, or not fulfilled within an expected amount of time.

The main reason why request management is so complicated for hotels is because of a hotel's organizational structure. Hotel departments typically work in silos to manage their workflows. Shift changes also complicate things. With this communication structure, it can be very challenging, if not impossible, to understand what is being asked for or complained about in real time.

Without a dedicated request management solution, executing on requests requires a multi-person chain of communication. Analog or offline systems (in person, radio, pen and paper, and post-it notes) have obvious pitfalls due to their lack of traceability. Request management is challenging to hotels that rely on technology too, because staff technology is typically fragmented and disconnected across departments. Requests can be dropped, accountability can be skirted, and service ultimately suffers.

Today's guests can request services in person, over the phone, by email, via mobile app, by text, or through social media, and this proliferation of guest communication channels has also complicated request management. Spreading guest requests across all these channels without a dedicated request management solution means hotel staff must spend their time monitoring these channels and then dispatching these requests by hand to the appropriate employees. When your staff is unable to keep up with these channels, service suffers. Guest satisfaction is again compromised.

Improving your hotel's service through exceptional guest request management is the most direct way to increase your TripAdvisor rating. Guest request fulfillment is the lynchpin of customer service, and "service" is the component of the review that is the most directly in your control ("location" is all but impossible to change, and changing "value" is expensive).

Fortunately, technology today can make guest request management a whole lot easier. Dedicated guest request management software can centralize all digital and analog requests. Mobile software tools can let hotel staff enter requests made by guests in person, on the phone, or through any digital channel. The software can then seamlessly dispatch these requests to the appropriate departments and individuals. Real-time notifications let staff know when new requests are made and let other team members know when tasks are incomplete or overdue. This provides accountability and transparency to the processing of all requests.

As Niki Leondakis, Two Roads Hospitality's CEO of hotels and resorts put it recently, hotel staff are the ones that make the difference when it comes to delivering exceptional hospitality, and technology should be used to support them. "If we can enable our employees more effectively, that's where we stand a chance of differentiating and stand a chance of enhancing the guest experience."

Alex Shashou

Alexander Shashou is the co-founder and President of ALICE, the hospitality industry's first fully integrated operations platform, uniting back of house service optimization with front of house guest experience management and messaging. ALICE’s technology suite brings together the hotel front desk, concierge, housekeeping, and maintenance teams, and connects hotel guests to their hotel with a mobile app and SMS.

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    About ALICE

    ALICE is a hotel operations platform that empowers operational excellence and meaningful guest experiences. By bringing all hotel departments together with a single operations platform for internal communication and task management, ALICE helps hotel staff act as a team to provide consistently excellent service. Since the company was founded in 2013, ALICE has gained significant traction in the industry, working with more than 2,500 hotels and tens of thousands of hotel staff across many of the world's leading brands, including Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Viceroy Hotel Group, Firmdale Hotels, Dream Hotel Group, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and The Leading Hotels of the World. The company acquired concierge technology provider GoConcierge in 2017. ALICE is the Forbes Travel Guide Brand Official Staff Technology Platform, an Inc. Best Workplaces of 2019, and winner of Best Place to Work in Hotel Technology, Best Concierge Software, Best Engineering & Facilities Management, Best Guest App and Top Staff Task Management & Collaboration Platform at the 2019 HotelTechAwards.

    For more information, visit https://www.aliceplatform.com.

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