Don’t take knee-jerk attitude to reviews
Don’t take knee-jerk attitude to reviews
26 JUNE 2014 6:31 AM

It’s important to pay attention to TripAdvisor reviews, but don’t let them be the sole guide of how you run your hotel.

I couldn’t help last week but be reminded of a quote from Three Wall Capital’s Tim Dick after reading my colleague and comma-splice-fighter extraordinaire Alicia Hoisington’s blog about how not to respond to TripAdvisor reviews.
Our hotel lives and dies by their position on TripAdvisor,” Dick said during the 26th annual Hunter Hotel Investment Conference earlier this year.
Before I go off on too much of a rant here, let me just say that being responsive to TripAdvisor reviews, and guest comments and suggestions in general, is an incredibly good idea. That said, Hoisington in her blog raises an excellent point:
“I know there are some guests out there who, no matter what you do for them, are going to give you a bad review,” she wrote. “I understand that sometimes what people say about a hotel experience simply isn’t true and could be written out of spite. There are also the guests who are willing to go so far as to blackmail hoteliers with bad reviews if not given what they want.”
And therein lies the quandary. You need to be reactive, but hoteliers can spend a lot of precious money chasing after the one guy who was having an awful day and decided to let loose on Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor or another social platform. 
It seems to me that hotel operators too-often react to negative comments in a knee-jerk fashion that ends up hurting the brand or the property. Maybe it’s not to the degree that Hoisington details in her blog, but perhaps an owner reads a few reviews about how the pool area needs to be renovated (if you know me, you know I am extra sensitive about hotel pools) and commits to spending tens of thousands of dollars toward a refurbishment of the area. 
But did the pool actually need it? This is where I am going to differ slightly in my interpretation than my colleague proposed. She suggested looking for trends in the TripAdvisor comments. If you keep seeing the same issues brought forward, you know you have a problem that needs to be fixed.
TripAdvisor reviews and rankings are important, but I believe you need to take it further and bring in other data sources, such as putting as much stock in the staff you have on property as you do strangers taking pot shots on TripAdvisor. Dick also alluded to this during the Hunter Conference panel.
“You can’t just walk through the lobby and ask someone, ‘How was your stay?’” he said. “You have to have a formalized process for collecting information and organizing everything.”
Incorporating a well-rounded stockpile of data seems to me to be a more prudent way of determining what needs to be done on property, with TripAdvisor playing just one role in the equation.
Tweet of the week
While it might be smart to not rush to judgment about TripAdvisor rants, it’s pretty clear you can judge Airbnb as a significant player in the hotel industry. And for those of you who are still doubters, Mr. Conley has a tweet for you.
Email Shawn A. Turner or find him on Twitter or Facebook
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