TripAdvisor continues to be a dominant source of referral traffic and revenue for top ranking hotels. The algorithm that determines the ranking is a secret. However, we know that frequency, recency and quality of reviews have a big impact on a hotels placement.
The Four Seasons hotel in Austin has developed a strategy which allows them to be one of the top hotels in the city of Austin. Their General Manager Rob Hagelberg says, engaging reviewers is a major factor keeping the Austin hotel on top.
Here is the framework they follow when engaging the TripAdvisor audience.
- Monitor Social Activity to identify new customer reviews.
It is important to monitor comment activity on TripAdvisor. So if there is an issue you can quickly resolve it by presenting a solution. It also shows other readers of the comment that you care and are actively listening. You can get notifications of new comments via TripAdvisor directly or by subscribing to any of the widely available social review monitoring tools. In this case they used Revinate as their tool of choice.
- Give staff a deadline for responding to negative reviews
Four Seasons encourages managers to respond to reviews within 24 hours if they are 3 stars or less. Kerri Holden, senior director of public relations, every morning receives a report of new reviews from TripAdvisor or Revinate. She then takes these reviews and consults with Rob Hagelberg, General Manager, and tracks down the department and the individual who would be responsible for that area to completely understand the issue.
Some of the reviews give great detail of the issue but it is also important to look into it further. The more detail you can guest about the guest and the situation the better you can respond to the review. Gathering these details also allows the hotel to evaluate and improve operational procedures. This leads to better experience for future guests and likelihood of more positive reviews.
- Use a standard template to respond to all negative reviews
Hagelberg is an industry veteran and has worked in various roles. He has responded to reviews before when they were not on public platforms. And, since they are public acknowledging feedback is more important than ever.
He has come up with a structure for responding to these reviews and this builds a framework and consistency in responses.
This structure includes the following elements:
- Thank the customer for their time writing a review
- Acknowledge any positive comments
- Apologize for the specific complaint or issue
- Explain a specific, forward-looking plan of how the hotel will fix the problem
- Invite the customer to come back
- Leave a personalized message to thank people for their positive review.
Four Seasons does not ask for managers to respond to positive reviews but Hagelberg chooses to do so. Studies have shown they’re more likely to stay at a hotel with managerial responses.
When determining which positive review to reply to, he picks one that compliments his employees or simply one that makes him smile.
In his response to positive reviews, Hagelberg takes a similar approach as with the negative review. He thanks the guest for the review and reiterates the value he finds in feedback. Next, he provides a personal touch which he says is the key to a great hotel experience.
Create a memorable experiences from the beginning.
Great reviews do not come without hard work. The best reviews are the ones that mention an emotional connection with the staff.