The power of online reviews
Imagine reading this about your hotel or restaurant: “Worst hotel in the world!” “Yours is a very bad hotel.” “Probably the worst restaurant in the world.” These genuine reviews reveal how easily word can spread of a bad hospitality experience, and are highly influential in determining travellers’ accommodation or dining choices. In a study commissioned by popular review site TripAdvisor, 93 per cent of respondents feel that a hotel stay is very important to the overall trip experience, and 77 per cent usually or always reference TripAdvisor reviews before selecting a hotel. Fifty per cent usually or always reference TripAdvisor reviews before selecting a restaurant.1
Frequent or platinum guests must be front of mind for hotels in particular. As someone who lives in hotels, I personally experience how businesses look after such guests: some hotel chains do it well while others do not. The hotels that communicate seamlessly — almost secretively — between check-in and concierge, for example, offer a service well above the others, and the process is always facilitated by superior communications. The direct result is that I go back to the same hotels as the overall experience is just better – even for just one night.
The top six tips:
To avoid bad customer experiences, these are my top tips for ensuring that your business delivers exceptional service – using excellent communications:
- Think about the communication needs of your entire premises, not just public areas. Staff need to be contactable at the other end of the golf course or deep in the basement! Sprawling resorts can have numerous facilities, making it difficult to keep track of staff and security personnel. By using in-built GPS capability in (digital mobile radio) DMR technology, management can quickly determine where everyone is located and respond immediately as required.
- Improve your response times: Handling guest requests more quickly, efficiently and with greater accountability leads to less complaints, better guest relations and fewer queues at the front desk, which ensures a positive first impression every time. Even a disgruntled customer can be appeased if they feel their complaint has being heard and acted upon without delay. With effective communications, any staff member can immediately contact the concierge, housekeeping, maintenance or management from anywhere on the premises, enabling the right person to quickly step in and answer the query or resolve the issue.
- Remember that one size does not fit all: Every department has its own way of working and a device which is not fit for purpose hinders superior guest service. Investigate your mix of devices and determine whether each device is suited for the task, and what else might be available. Managers may need smart phones, while wait staff and maintenance teams need different styles of two-way radio with different functionality.
- Ensure interoperability between all staff, irrespective of device: It’s all about helping your staff collaborate better, which in turn helps keep your facilities in good working order and assists in lowering your costs through efficiencies such as time-savings, multi-tasking and better job allocation. Applications (apps) such as WAVE Work Group Communications, an interoperability and broadband push-to-talk (PTT) solution, employ your existing and various devices and networks to enable effective collaboration between workers of every level. For example, a hotel executive can use a mobile phone to communicate with the concierge, who is using a two-way radio.
- Consider how to get more out of your communications system: Many apps can free staff and automate tasks for better efficiency. Job ticket management apps allocate jobs to the appropriate worker, who indicates job completion with the push of a button. Other apps track people and vehicles, remotely manage equipment such as intercom or access and ensure worker safety via lone worker apps. Indoor positioning apps track cleaner movements, ensuring tracking and accountability. Even management analysis tools can provide insights into work processes, giving rise to potential improvements.
- Remember that guests do not want to hear or see the effort it takes to deliver first class service. Train your staff to behave like swans: calm on the surface, paddling like mad out of sight! Discreet communications equipment such as slimline two-way radios, vibrating belt clips (noiselessly indicating the arrival of calls or messages) and earpieces all support seamless and discreet operations. Two-way radios can also send and receive texts to minimise disruption to guests or diners.
My bonus tip addresses communications from a different angle, but is just as important.
- Always respond to negative reviews via online sites in a positive and helpful way! TripAdvisor’s study found that 87 per cent of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel”, and 70 per cent of users say an aggressive or defensive management response to a bad review makes them less likely to book that hotel.
The right communications system can help reinforce that all-important great impression, by ensuring all staff can be contacted seamlessly and quickly regardless of device or location. Tasks can be allocated and completed quickly, enquiries answered without delay and efficiencies improved with the appropriate device.
1. Hotel guests read 6-12 reviews before booking, says new TripAdvisor survey, 12 Feb 2014, Hotelmarketing.com