Managing your independent hotel for the future #4: Guest Insights & Data-Driven Decisions

Social media communities and travel review sites double as customer service channels for lots of travelers and independent hotels.  Of course, this comes with its pros and cons.  Issues that were once discussed privately are now posted for public consumption.  Additionally, satisfied guests can share their memorable experiences with the hotel and other curious travelers.  Not only does online feedback help provide a snapshot of the guest experience, it delivers invaluable insights that hotels can use to improve operations.  But are independent hotels taking full advantage of this useful and free information?

Every guest comment isn’t going to provide groundbreaking insight, but some will alert hoteliers to issues that need to be addressed, like drafty windows or loose tiles.  Individually, these may seem like one-off occurrences, but in some cases they are clues to larger issues.  How guest feedback is handled will determine its value, so here are a few tips for leveraging guest insights and using them make important decisions:

Track comments

Tracking important guest feedback is the first step toward identifying and maximizing its value.  By placing items into categories, like “building issues” and “service issues,” noting when they were mentioned and how quickly solutions are needed, operators will collect a sizeable amount of data that can be used as a roadmap to support important operational decisions, including guest check-in and check-out procedures, team member training scheduling, building repair and renovation planning, online booking process improvement and more.

Regularly analyze feedback

As feedback is collected, hoteliers should regularly analyze comments to see what type of trends, if any, are developing.  For example, repetitive complaints about spotty housekeeping may highlight a need for updated team member training or mentions about water-stained ceilings may signal an immediate need for a roof inspection.  Regularly collecting and analyzing guest feedback is a useful and inexpensive way for independent hoteliers to monitor their property and take early notice of issues so they don’t become major problems later.

Take action

After the data has been collected and analyzed, there’s only one step left – take action.  Whether it’s an easy, one-time fix or a larger, more challenging issue that requires multi-phase planning, independent hotel operators can use their guest feedback data to make decisions that are highly informed and supported by reliable data.  As a result, future travelers will benefit from the hotel’s improvements and past guests will know that their feedback was valued and taken seriously.

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