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Should hotels respond to online reviews (part 1)?

by Rajul on December 7, 2009

Are online guest reviews a threat or an opportunity for hotels?

Are online guest reviews a threat or an opportunity for hotels?

Hoteliers in London often ask me how to deal with TripAdvisor comments.  A recent survey by TripAdvisor/Market Metrix found that 85% of hotels have no guidelines on how to handle negative guest reviews published online.

In this two-part article, we focus on London hotels that appear to do this well.  We hope this will encourage others to follow suit in the knowledge that complaint recovery is one of the best ways to build customer loyalty.

We all love to use TripAdvisor, but it does have faults.  It’s not surprising that this blog’s TripAdvisor User Guide is one of our most popular posts.

Occasionally, people do also use TripAdvisor malevolently.

I know one very solid London hotel for which someone posted a lot of negative comments when they returned home and asked friends and family (who had of course never stayed at the hotel) to do the same.

These negative comments went against the grain of most other reviews in a hotel where I personally know the management to be very diligent.

If the hotel can prove foul play in such cases, management should contact TripAdvisor directly to see if invalid comments can be removed.  TripAdvisor is usually understanding and even-handed in these situations.

It's not about whether a hotel gets complaints but how it responds to them

It's not about whether a hotel gets complaints but how well - and how personally - it responds to them

But back to the original question: assuming a negative comment is genuine, how should hotel management respond to it, if at all?

Some hotels put in standard responses – the worst possible solution.

By entering some “blah blah” about how you value their feedback, etc. (without addressing the specific underlying issue) a hotel’s management is simply being arrogant.  It’s better not to bother responding at all.

Other hotels respond to negative comments by thanking the guest (a good start) and mentioning some specific steps they may have taken.

Better still, they may actually give ownership of the issue to the hotel department head responsible for that area, who responds in person.

That for me underlines that complaints are a genuine improvement opportunity – if the hotel in question is fundamentally well-run of course.

One hotel that does this well is the Lanesborough.  We’ve featured this hotel several times on the blog and admire its management , the staff training, its hi-tech amenities (including free WiFi) and the ethos of transparent pricing which is so unusual in super-luxury hotels.

Check the best rate for The Lanesborough from 30+ hotel booking sites

The Lanesborough takes a very diligent and personal approach towards online guest reviews

The Lanesborough takes a diligent, personal approach towards online guest reviews

Whenever a comment appears on TripAdvisor, the relevant department head at the Lanesborough actually follows up on the specific experience that led to the comment.  The response is then personal, written by the person directly responsible and acknowledges the issue raised.

Do check some recent TripAdvisor reviews for the Lanesborough yourself.

The Lanesborough is by no means a cheap hotel – in fact it houses one of London’s four most expensive hotel rooms within its distinguished walls.

But I’m impressed that it is not too snooty to respond to TripAdvisor reviews (when several of its top-end competitors in London do not seem to bother acknowledging online guest comments at all).

Check the best rate for The Lanesborough from 30+ hotel booking sites

In part two of this feature, we identify a hotel that goes even further than the Lanesborough in responding to online guest complaints.

Get the best-value London hotel deal from 30+ booking sites in 1 click

Photo credits: The Lanesborough.

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{ 6 trackbacks }

Tips for hotel management responding to guest reviews
December 15, 2009 at 8:38 am
Should hotels respond to online reviews (part 1) « TripSourcing Blog
December 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm
Los negocios de TripAdvisor « tourism2.0andnews.es
December 22, 2009 at 4:56 am
Hotels responses to reviews: what’s appropriate?
December 23, 2009 at 10:51 am
Can you trust TripAdvisor London hotel reviews? | London Hotel News | Official daily news on London hotels |
December 2, 2010 at 7:10 am
Tips on dealing with bad hotel reviews | London Hotel News | Official daily news on London hotels |
January 13, 2011 at 5:36 am

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