We've managed hundreds of days of hotel operations to get to this moment and it's here... 2020 has just about arrived!
Many of us will likely be distracted in the coming weeks by the endless emails that need to be sorted through, catching up on stories of holiday festivities with colleagues and team members, and closing out the revenues and financials for December and 2019. While dedicating time to each of these tasks must take priority, for many hotels, the beginning of the year will remain fairly slow and will provide you with an opportunity to reflect on the financial goals for the year ahead and give greater thought to how those targets can be achieved.
The Impact That Your Broader Team and Online Reputation Can Have on Your 2020 Goals
Through budgeting season, your Revenue Team likely studied recent segmentation trends and if you are anticipating growth, increases in segments affiliated with Business Travel, Consortia, Group, or Direct Web bookings. Your Sales Team might have been (or will be) hosting Business Review meetings with key accounts to discuss opportunities for increasing share and driving greater ADR and Revenues for your hotel. Your Marketing team has likely crafted robust, digital-focused marketing plans aimed at driving more volume to your property website while minimizing channels such as OTAs.
These strategies and efforts are appropriate for all stakeholders that are looking to streamline hotel operations, and are probably in place at dozens of hotels in your own backyard. But beyond forecasting changes in our sales channels, one might ask what more can be done to drive ADR, Revenues and overall Rev PAR for 2020?
What some leaders fail to realize is that increasing revenues at a hotel often starts with a cultural shift within the team on the ground floor of your hotel operations. Driving revenues can’t rest solely on the shoulders of sales and revenue teams. While they are the drivers, every other employee contributes to their ability to deliver. As leaders, we need to share our goals with every colleague and highlight how THEY too can contribute to the overall success of our hotel.
While Housekeepers and Bellmen don’t necessarily have much opportunity to directly produce added revenues for the hotel, they DO have the ability to impact the overall guest experience, and in time, an elevated guest experience will reveal itself through online reviews. With more positive experiences, average review ratings will climb on channels like Guest Satisfaction Surveys, TripAdvisor, and OTAs. Many may not consider .10 point increase on a platform like TripAdvisor as much of a change, but in saturated markets with dozens or hundreds of hotels, every fraction on a 5-point rating scale can generate great results, if held consistently.
Elevating online reputation, particularly on TripAdvisor, can be a tremendous asset for the Sales and Revenue teams to deliver budgeted segmentation goals. Corporate Travel Managers and Meeting Planners are looking at review platforms like TripAdvisor when sourcing new hotel partners or narrowing down Group Business RFPs to a short-list of hotels. For hotels with TripAdvisor Business Advantage listings, that subscription includes a weblink. A hotel that reaches new heights in Popularity Ranking will likely see an increase in Click-Through traffic from TripAdvisor, and as a result, an increase in direct web-bookings, which in turn might help achieve segmentation goals.
What Plans Does Your Hotel Have in Place to Elevate Your Online Reputation?
If you haven’t given your online reputation's relation to your hotel operations much strategic thought, you’re not alone. Many hotels still allow this process to happen very organically and simply respond to reviews as they come in with a typical management response. Others understand the value of a management response and have a dedicated colleague or partner who crafts unique, engaging and timely management responses to each online review, while other hotels invest in tools like Revinate or TrustYou to digest the trending topics and scores shared by guests and to use that feedback to improve guest experiences and hopefully future reviews.
Although these are great initiatives, if you truly wish to see your online reputation reach its maximum potential, you should develop a comprehensive strategy that starts with creating a culture that focuses on the guest experience, the value of guest engagement, and the power each guest has to share a public review. While our Opaque guest may have paid $59 for the same room our Corporate guest paid $229 for, both have the same power to share a stellar Five-Star review or an unfortunate One-Star review. As a team, we then need to ask ourselves if we take effort to ensure each guest has an exceptional experience, and assuming we do, how we can leverage those positive experiences and in turn drive MORE positive reviews!
If this is not a conversation you have had with your teams, we challenge you to do so in the days ahead.
Creating a Game-Changing Culture
Creating a culture among your broad hotel operations contributors often starts with facilitating an open dialogue about the values, attitudes and goals of the hotel. Cultures evolve when everyone, including senior leadership, walk the walk and talk the talk; if we want our team members to understand how important every guest experience is to us, we must lead by example! Cultures thrive with open communication, the measurement of goals and the celebration of results!
With our team members focused on guest experiences, as leaders, we must then monitor results and share them with the team. While we can likely recite details regarding our STR Report from last month, we must have the same skill and level of detail as it relates to our online performance with talking points which might include:
TripAdvisor average review score earned last month
Percentage of Management Response coverage to online reviews
Quantity and Percentage of negative reviews related to hotel operations achieved in the previous month, or month to date
Percentage of Five-Star Reviews; How that compares to the same month last year
Number or reviews achieved on TripAdvisor last month (remember, the TripAdvisor algorithm is impacted by Review Frequency)
All of these might contribute to benchmarks related to your Competitive Index and overall ranking!
Your Crucial Next Steps
Finding your way with an effective online reputation management strategy takes thought, patience, perseverance, consistency and the support of your full team. Before 2020 takes off with a vengeance and you get the new year's hotel operations underway, we would suggest you give thought to this entire process, develop your strategy and goals, and meet with your leadership team to discuss how these efforts can be achieved. As you craft your list of Action Items the next critical step is to ensure your team has the appropriate resources and bandwidth to handle this task in its entirety.
At The Reputation Lab, we work with hotels and restaurants to facilitate a reputation management strategy aimed at increasing online visibility, engaging your customers, and converting more shoppers to future guests and revenue producers. If you are interested in learning how a reputation management strategy can benefit your business, we invite you to email us via our secure contact form to set up a no pressure consultation or call us at 855-979-6800.