How to address negative reviews on social media

SMreviewAs many independent hoteliers know well, social media provides an efficient and inexpensive tool for marketing their property to new customers and staying in touch with loyal guests.  Equally, it allows consumers to communicate directly with operators to rave about their wonderful experience or, unfortunately, share their reasons for never wanting to return.  Accepting praise is the easy and enjoyable part of using social media, but properly handling negative feedback can actually help hotel operators build trust with their online community.  Additionally, comments from guests can provide valuable information about areas that need improvement, as well as service touch points that should be enhanced.

To help operators maximize their returns on their social media interactions, here are a few tips on how to properly address negative reviews:

1)    Always respond to negative feedback.
When guests leave negative feedback about their experience, it is critical to address their concerns quickly and directly.  Responding within 24-48 hours is the general rule of thumb for social media, but it is also important to have a strategy for navigating various types of online interactions.

A great way for managers to take control of online conversations is to sympathize with the guest, provide their contact information and politely ask the guest to call or email them directly.  By moving the conversation out of a public forum, it lets the guest know their concern is being taken very seriously, as well eliminates the possibility for a messy public dialogue.  However, if the guest declines to move the conversation offline, be prepared to exchange messages until the issue is completely resolved.

2)    Offer solutions, not confrontation.
When responding to guest complaints on social media, it’s important for hoteliers to offer solutions rather than look for confrontations.  While some guests may look to agitate, most simply want their issue resolved quickly.  For example, if a guest contacts a hotel about an issue with their bill, rather than assuming the guest is mistaken or incorrect, offer to check your records and explain every charge in detail via phone or email.  Not only does this resolve the guest’s issue, it shows potential guests and other travelers that you take feedback seriously and make every effort to find a resolution.

3)    Keep your promises.
In a recent Tnooz article, it’s reported that travelers mention hotel service, room condition and location, in both positive and negative reviews, more often than any other part of their experience.  In responding to negative comments, some hoteliers make promises to enhance their service, provide cleaner rooms and improve signage in an effort to appease guests online.  Many guests will not return to the hotel soon after their last visit, so they have to trust that hoteliers will make the improvements that were promised.

For hoteliers, keeping promises made online about improving the guest experience is critical for maintaining credibility, as well as ensuing future profits.  The guest who complained about the condition of their room may not return soon, but there are other travelers with upcoming reservations who are reading these reviews and responses and will surely look to see if the promises made online were implemented on-site.  If not, owners and operators will have to deal with explaining why they did not hold true to their word and, ultimately, deal with the potential loss in revenue when guests take their business to other hotels.

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