There’s gold in them thar reviews – make the most of it

The new TripAdvisor Management Dashboard described on Tnooz.com is a free service to hoteliers which will give them a deeper insight into their property’s profile on TripAdvisor; and just as importantly, to that of their competitors.

As I wrote in Take back control from TripAdvisor – Part Two TripAdvisor is not going away any time soon so it makes sense to engage with it and with its veritable army of reviewers. The information in your property’s reviews and that of your competitors is gold and you really need to make sure you are panning it; and then using the information collected.

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I decided to go on an exploratory mission by diving into a review on TripAdvisor to check what was there. I chose a destination that I know quite well and, since I did not want to look at extremes, I sorted for a hotel scoring 3 out of the possible 5 marks within the site.

I did not need to look beyond the first hotel to find what I was seeking.

Below are some comments made about the property: I have slightly amended the wording so that the actual hotel cannot be identified to avoid causing embarrassment:

Having paid extra for a sea view our room was tiny with a small window.

Food was edible but not enjoyable.

Carpets worn, windows filthy, chairs stained.

There are many other reviews, some quite comprehensive that echo these and similar negative sentiments. In fairness there were also some 5 star reviews but these were outweighed heavily by the 3s and less.

To the hotel’s credit, a manager has replied to many of the reviews that I read but on the downside it has been done in a formulaic fashion. You know the type of thing: “Thank you for your comments your feedback is important to us and we will do what we can to make improvements where necessary”.

This is not rocket science

Now aside from the fact that such bland responses will be disregarded by most  website visitor, it would be acceptable if the manager had then taken positive action to rectify the issues raised. Unfortunately reading further I discovered that such negative sentiments have been expressed before, in fact they span more than 8 years!

This really is not rocket science. Change the room description, improve the food, upgrade the décor and apply higher cleaning standards.

Now the more hard-nosed might say if the hotel can continue for 8 years without changing and still attract customers, what’s the problem? Well since neither you nor I own the business perhaps there is no problem but then how about the customers who are not getting value for money? And how is it for the employees? Especially the hapless manager who probably has to fight a relentless ‘battle’ with his customers day in and day out? Indeed according to one guest it has got to the point where: “The manager refused to speak to us and we were told to put our complaint in writing.”

What Good Is Average?

In short then guests are giving the hotel information that can be easily used to make improvements but for whatever reason no action appears to have been taken. This hotel is surely then doomed to be no better than average. Does anyone notice average? Does anyone go out of their way for average?  No they don’t. So for this hotel to stand out from the crowd they have only price as a potential differentiator. And in reality that is no differentiator when a competitor can go as cheap if not cheaper?

It is essential then, if an hotel owner is serious about creating a profitable business, that they pay attention to what their customers are telling them.  You should use all the tools available, get digging into those reviews, find the nuggets and take positive action!

Image credit Parahamsa

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