How Technology Can Help Hotels Protect Their Online Reputations as They Grapple with Staffing Challenges |

 How Technology Can Help Hotels Protect Their Online Reputations as They Grapple with Staffing Challenges |

Guests don’t care what happens in a hotel; they just want a great experience, with all their needs met quickly and effectively. If they’re not satisfied, they’ll notify the hotel – and the rest of the world, too. (Image credit: ReviewPro.)

By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky – 5.16.2022

Our fingers crossed that this summer is playing out as predicted, with a real travel recovery scenario bringing in a lot of occupancy growth for properties large and small, urban and resort , and in all countries where it is considered safe to travel. But there is a reputational risk of this whiplash going back to higher occupancy numbers that can cause lasting damage to a brand if not addressed properly.

Michael Kessler, CEO of ReviewPro

It depends on the ability of a hotel to serve guests. The lack of staff is a major failure in operations and revenue maximization, and unfortunately it will not disappear any time soon. For the rest of 2022, this means a lot of future visitors and a small team member. Together, some requests and SOPs should not be overlooked; as we know, service errors are likely to come into your online reviews sooner or later.

To better understand this challenge and what hotels can do to reduce it while maintaining a strong team, we teamed up again with Michael Kessler, CEO of ReviewPro, for further insights.

“This layer of pent-up travel demand will come and go until we get some similarity to normal, but those bad reviews on TripAdvisor and other OTAs are there for everyone to see,” he said. Kessler. “Today, customers are more focused on post-pandemic than pre-pandemic hotel reviews, and that means reputation management-and it’s best to automate this task so as not to damage productivity. on the team – deserves to be seriously reconsidered as we move on to … this next season of travel. ”

From the Visitor’s Perspective

It is always enlightening to listen to a different angle on the labor crisis; Kessler suggested that all hoteliers first step back and put themselves in the guest’s shoes. We were so caught up on a daily basis and trying to juggle staffing schedules or room cleaning orders that we forgot to look at the 2022 travel recovery from the customer’s point of view.

Frankly speaking, guests don’t care what happens in the operation of a hotel; they just want a great experience, with all their needs met quickly and effectively. This is especially true for those who have not traveled through the past two years of bans. Add to this that room prices can inevitably go up due to supply chain issues etc., and you have a guest with higher service expectations and a need for smooth, peaceful stay at your hotel, regardless of back-of-house staffing.

Often dubbed Revenge Travel 2.0, the upcoming recovery period may also see such travelers come out ‘with revenge’ through more personal healing, more extravagance, a high demand for recreational experiences or activities and , in the end for you, we earn more per hotel guest. As a classic “good problem to be acquired,” this excess of service requests and increasing the number of upsell further increases the load your team has to implement, in turn increasing the likelihood of errors resulting from deficiencies. to frontline staff.

To help prevent negative reviews, we need to learn to do “a little with more,” and that means using technology to cover certain parts of the work. Far from deploying a front desk robot, what we mean is automation and AI tools for repetitive tasks to free up available staff to cover the visitor’s face and the more complex part of the solution. in the work problem. This can be done throughout the customer journey – for example, by speeding up response times and opening up communication channels.

Think of the Entire Visitor Journey

What to look for in upgrading your hotel tech stack? This automation of visitor travel needs to be addressed systematically.

This may include any or all of the following, with each aspect working to address staff shortages by freeing up work for other tasks:

  1. Programming in-stay surveys and setting team notifications, so hoteliers can act quickly to provide onsite service recovery when needed.
  2. Consolidate requests from any digital platform-whether it’s email, texting app or social media-so nothing goes wrong and the team isn’t burdened with checking each channel.
  3. Bringing all online reviews into a platform for managers to effectively respond with thanks and acknowledgments, and to let future guests see that the hotel is responsive and caring.
  4. Perfecting prearrival and post-departure automated communications to set the tone for a great onsite experience and maintain brand relationships after check-out.
  5. Using a hospitality-specific chatbot to help automate more repetitive aspects of inbound inquiries, for guests currently in the area or those who have not yet booked a room.
  6. Offering comp set review benchmarks to provide an understanding of where a property should improve compared to other brands.
  7. Analyze the specific words of each review, using AI-driven tools to evaluate performance not only on star rating changes but on visitor sentiments and ‘soft’ suggestions.

Automation Finally Makes For Happier Staff and Visitors

Your knee reacts to all the different automation of tasks from above so that it can scare colleagues into creative disruption. The exact opposite is what really happens, as Kessler demonstrates by the example of the Aquaria Natal Hotel in Ponte Negra, Brazil, where happier staff inevitably results in happier guests.

Achieving a significant ranking improvement for Aquaria Natal requires daily monitoring of reviews, feedback analysis and performance benchmarking.

In this case, deploying a review management platform is part of a joint effort to truly care for employees-one that also involves better staff diets, it continues. professional advancement, gym discounts, medical coverage and onsite wellness counseling. Prior to the pandemic, the property was rated 59th out of 116 hotels in the area; now has the highest ranking.

Achieving such a significant ranking improvement for Aquaria Natal requires daily monitoring of reviews, feedback analysis and performance benchmarking. Critical, however, is follow-up, including:

  • Automatic notifications to encourage staff to communicate with certain visitors each day
  • Set a KPI for managers to respond to all reviews within 48 hours
  • Specific to COVID-19, clear communications before and throughout the stay so guests understand what services are available during rolling mandates
  • Weekly meetings to maintain assets above 95% of ReviewPro’s Global Review Index ™
  • Appointed reporters in each department to carry out tasks based on audits
  • Personal phone call from management to each guest who leaves a complaint

For your own property, consider a staff retention bonus from these tools, which they can also set up to notify managers when a better review is posted or if a specific team member is praised by name. These celebration pieces can then be printed and pinned to the staff lounge for everyone to see how great a job they did.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, simple recognition acts like these can increase morale and prevent turnover, absenteeism or presenteeism (when employees are present but unemployed). Especially during a job crisis where automation is already needed in many other ways, it is reassuring to find these subtle but creative ways to use existing technologies to retain staff and develop a good organizational culture.

Taken together, the seven functions from above along with some other morale improvement features on these platforms present a strong case of why hotel review management needs a lot more. intensive study of post-pandemic healing. Staff shortages will be an omnipresent issue for next year (at least!), Making automation essential to maintain quality service delivery. And as you can see from the example, even some of such insignificant use cases can go a long way in creating a healthy culture that then promotes a steady flow. in many online reviews.

Larry and Adam Mogelonsky represent one of the world’s most published hospitality writing teams, with over a decade’s worth of material online. As partners at Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto -based consulting practice, Larry focuses on asset management, sales and operations while Adam specializes in hotel technology and sales. Their experience spans properties around the world, both branded and independent, and from luxury and boutique to select service. Their work includes six books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017), “The Hotel Mogel” (2018) and “More Hotel Mogel” (2020). You can reach Larry at [email protected] or Adam at [email protected] to discuss hotel business challenges or book speaking sessions.

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