This month, Daniel Edward Craig and I launched a Webinar series called the Review Clinic. You can see the recording from our first event in the previous blog post. The next free, online event will be Thursday, July 28th at 9am pacific/12pm eastern. Please sign up here.
We created the event because we know that many hotel professionals are still not comfortable responding publicly to reviews and we wanted to help. We invited hoteliers to submit reviews that they wanted us to discuss during the live event. Since we aren't able to cover every review that was submitted, I thought I would share some runners-up in the blog. Here is one review, copied exactly as it was submitted but with hotel names removed. (In other words, the spelling and grammar errors are not mine.)
"We arrived in the late afternoon. it was nice since the girl behind the desk had our info ready to it was a breeze....they gave us the gov rate - even though it was more expensive then their normal rate...which they changed when asked. We found out at check in that parking was 12 dollar and it was valet. Left the car and grabbed my bags...went to my room to have a shower. Room is nice, nothing special....nothing special....no Flat screen....looks like 1980's happend yesterday....the decor is dated.....and I think we were the only ones in the hotel. When I came back downstairs, my car was still in the drive way..with door open.....the valet being also the bell boy and the concierge....when asked about the car, he said he was busy - talking to the blonde girl behind the front desk. Finally parked the car. When we came back at 21:45 at night, we found the front ready for breakfeast, the staff giglling with some type of a husky dog in front...and we the only people in the hotel. For 175$ a night...and 12$ for parking...200$....WTF!!! .....the X Hotel, which is next door, and is far above this hotel was only 120$......seriously ....what a joke..."
Here is how I would go about writing a response:
First, there are a lot of topics mentioned in the review and you don't need to (and shouldn't) address all of them. Why? If you responded to each critique you would have to explain your policy on rates, parking fees, decor, occupancy, staffing, pets etc. Your response should be brief and to the point. Think of your response as signing a guest book with a thoughtful, genuine note. You want to send the message that you were there and you care, but you don't need to share your whole life story there. Likewise, you don't need to get into a debate on every point mentioned in the review. My advice is to pick one item and address it, without being defensive so it's clear you are not writing a form letter.
Second, this guest is upset and whether or not you did anything wrong, you need to apologize. He chose to spend his money at your hotel and your goal is to meet or exceed his expectations. If he's not happy, you should be sorry. You should also thank him for taking the time to write a review, even if it's not a positive one.
Third, you want to make sure that people that see this review know that you are reading them and using them to improve your operations so let them know that you use reviews to retrain employees, or as a basis for future operational changes.
Finally, let him know that you are in charge and you want to do better next time.
So here is how I would respond:
"Thank you for taking the time to write a review, and I am so sorry that your experience with us in June was disappointing. We take all guest feedback very seriously, and we're constantly improving all aspects of our service and facilities. We even use online reviews to retrain employees, so rest assured that your valet trouble won't happen in the future. I hope you will consider staying with us again so that we can demonstrate the level of service that we are known for. If you do plan to be in the area again, please contact me directly by asking for the general manager and I will personally oversee your stay. Thank you. Jane Doe, General Manager"
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments section.