There’s a local hotel not far from where I live which is a favourite venue for business meetings given it’s only about 60 seconds from a motorway junction. It’s a fairly large hotel which is part of a group of 5. This hotel also has a gym and a pool, conference facilities etc. as you would expect. I’ve used it a number of times and the lounge/bar service has always been ok – nothing great but not poor. Average you could say.
After a recent meeting at the hotel and following a conversation with a business colleague, I thought out of interest (and for the basis of a potential conversation with the General Manager) I’d see what the reviews were like on Trip Advisor.
As a social media site, I’ve only had a fleeting relationship with Trip Advisor. I’ve never used it to plan a trip but I know friends who have and who also link it to their Facebook pages to post trips and reviews of hotels, restaurants or places in general. There’s even a Facebook ‘Friends’ tab on the site which for me showed 199 friends that have visited 6 continents, 80 countries and 1179 cities!
I found the hotel in question and initially, the stats looked ok. 306 ratings in total distributed below;
However when you group the percentages as a subset of the total, the data is much less flattering;
58% of ratings were positive – very good or excellent. 42% though were not positive – average or below.
That’s nearly 1 out of every two guests that leave less than satisfied probably never to return. In addition, the hotel ranked 10th out of 12 local hotels and overall had a rating of 61%. The first place hotel has an overall rating of 97% based on 277 reviews.
The reviews themselves made for interesting reading. Two recent reviews had the titles ‘Like the gunfight at the OK Corral’ and ‘Never again’ and another was titled “If Ryanair had hotels than it would be the XXXX” In fairness there were also positive comments around the hotel as a wedding venue and “Very good and very helpful and friendly staff” by a number of reviewers. However by human nature we’re negatively biased and you can’t but help being drawn to some of the less than ‘rave’ reviews.
There were also another couple of observations I made. Firstly the General Manager had replied to some of the reviews, both negative and positive but only some.
Secondly, reviewers had indicated that they had complained in person whilst at the hotel and had either little or no response. One reviewer had even waited two weeks before posting their review to give the hotel a chance to respond. For whatever reason the hotel hadn’t and so the review was posted which as you can imagine wasn’t great.
Some of the hotel’s responses included actions taken to remedy issues including refunds to guests that were over charged but most were along the lines of “I would like to apologise for any mis-understanding. Rest assured this matter will be looked into and relevant training put into place to ensure this does not happen again.”
A sincere apology should always be standard in response to a complaint and an action already taken is always more credible than the promise of something in the future. Call me a cynic but reading between the lines this says, ‘we don’t know or understand what went wrong, and so we won’t fix anything or do anything different!’
Apart from the obvious customer experience clangers here about inconsistent service delivery, not addressing all customer feedback good or otherwise and not responding to customer complaints there are wider and more serious implications for the hotel through customers’ use of social media and the hotel’s lack of brand management.
Clearly the hotel is engaging with social media. They monitor Trip Advisor and have a Facebook page which is fairly active with over 1600 ‘likes and over 8000 page visits. They also have an active twitter account with over 4,300 followers. They’re definitely socially active, but from Trip Advisor alone, it could be argued that they’re not proactively managing social media very well. That inevitably leads to brand and reputational damage unless corrected and that brings financial loss with it.
Let’s revisit the earlier stat of ‘nearly 1 in 2 customers leaves less than satisfied’ and let’s project some more numbers;
Average hotel room £70
Half of 306 reviewers don’t return = 153
Lost room revenue = £10,710
153 people tell at least 3 others (a very conservative figure) =459
Potential additional lost revenue = £32,130
Running total £42,840
Loss of bar and food sales – say £20 per head per person
(153×20) + (459x£20) = £12,240
Running total £55,080
That’s another 786 room bookings needed at £70 per room to make back all the above losses which I’m assuming could have been avoided in the first place or at least managed better either at the hotel or on Trip Advisor. This doesn’t take into account guests who stayed at the hotel who didn’t leave a review or complain.
So as a takeaway for the 153 guests who were less than satisfied and who we’ve assumed won’t return and have told at least 3 others not to stay at the hotel, those 153 guests have cost the hotel £360 each in lost revenue! That’s probably around 5 times greater than the revenue they actually generate in the first place.
This hotel has a massive opportunity both in correcting its customer experience and managing its online presence smarter. It’s estimated that it takes 10 positive experiences to redress 1 negative experience and if it was me, I’d be over that 1 negative experience or review like a rash immediately.
So if you’re a business and your deciding whether to ‘dabble’ with social media or not, then my advice would be to jump in with both feet. You might not ‘get it’ or ‘understand it’ immediately but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening and to avoid damage to your brand, your reputation and all your hard work, you need to be a part of it. Chances are customers are already talking about you somewhere online right now. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of that?