Reputation Management for Lodging, Maine Innkeepers Association

This past week, Scott Thomas from Brewster House (http://www.brewsterhouse.com/) and I gave a seminar to the Maine Innkeepers Association (http://www.maineinns.com/) on reputation management. Following are the two powerpoints used, the handout and the page notes from my portion of the lecture.

The Handout sheet is at the bottom of this post and has some tips and links for managing your online reputation.

1. Reputation Management

2. Registering your name/business name on social media accounts. If someone registers as you, they could quickly ruin your business. Think about at least grabbing the names on major ones.

3. Snapshot of social media platforms, (please see handout notes) on registering your brand name.

4. If you advertise you have social media accounts, use them, both outdated examples are of inns that have find us on Facebook and follow us on twitter links right on their home page. From a guest perspective, if you advertise it and don’t update it, what does that say about your business.

5. Facebook messaging can be turned off. If you have a fan page but don’t visit it much, you may want to consider turning this feature off. From experience since the messaging feature comes out, people want responses pretty fast. Faster then a reply to a Facebook post apparently.

6. 75% of online travel buyers checking at least three reviews sites before booking online

7. All the logos of online places that people can leave reviews (please see handout notes for who you can respond/reply to and who you can’t)

8. A negative review or comment on the Twitter, Facebook or Youtube Web sites can lose companies as many as 30 customers (Convergys Corp)

9. Reputation Management is not just about online, it’s about offline too

10. Lovely romantic photos of guests enjoying themselves at your inn

11.-12.  Slight problem, not that person’s significant other , Slight problem, not that person’s spouse. This is why you need to get model releases and permission from people before using their photos. While they would probably be too embarrassed to say anything online about it, do you think they will EVER recommend your inn to anyone?

13. What is your local chamber saying about you?

If your restaurant or facility belongs to a chamber of commerce, do you even know if they are recommending you?

I gave two examples in my lecture on this topic. Last year an inn and restaurant I work with up inNew Hampshire, had recently seen his phone referrals drop significantly in the past months. He was curious to find out why. I ended up making about 7 calls to the chamber office during different times of the day and different days of the week and spoke to several different people. (I do great accents). None of them recommended either the inn or the restaurant, even when pushed on the matter. They recommended his direct competition (one a chamber member and one not) on all enquires.

It turns out the inn and restaurant in question had been kind of a pain in the tuckus to the executive director, asking about why the chamber doesn’t do this and why they should be doing this and why are they not. So the place got blackballed.

The other example I used, was an inn that somehow, a rumor got started that the couple running it was breaking up, and the inn would be going up for sale. Neither of which was true, but the local chamber office was telling people who called, “Oh lovely inn, great hosts, but I hear they are having some issues there and may not be around for long”.  Way to kill reservations methinks?

14. What are your employees saying about you?

15. For this lecture I found two employees on twitter making comments about their workplace and about guests, one identified directly where they worked. Imagine if a potential or repeat customer saw something online? Heaven help the restaurant where an employee posts something like, “Just saw rats in the basement at the Jane Doe Inn,” and then it gets picked up by someone and RTed (Retweeted or passed along) by someone with a bunch of followers. Or seen by the health inspector.

While you probably don’t want to directly follow employees on twitter, you can put them on private lists so they don’t know you are “following” them so to speak.

Facebook is another area where you should be monitoring, if possible, what is said online. While it’s definitely not kosher to ask for employee’s user names and passwords, the majority of people do not lock down their personal information, photos and wall.

Once you are logged into Facebook, you can see about 80% of what’s posted online. I am not suggesting you stalk your employees, but if you have a potential problem child in your employ, it doesn’t hurt to be careful.

What you don’t want is another Damian Cardone on your hands. If you have not ever heard of Damian, just Google him, not very hard to find out what the issue was. The sad after effects of this were that the restaurant he worked at suffered because of it, and ended up having dozens and dozens of negative reviews posted about the situation, many by people who had never even eaten there.

16. Bedbugs

17. Have you checked to see if you facility is listed? (please see handout notes on website addresses) bedbugs can ruin a reputation and there have been reports of guests holding the threat of a review mentioning bedbugs to get refunds.

18. Twitter

19. People do mention lodging on twitter quite a bit, complaints, compliments, referrals, and wanted to solve/fix issues with stays. Use tools to monitor mentions and sign up for an account even if you are not planning on using it, so you can reply if there is ever an issue.

20. Yelp (Tripadvisor’s little brother)

21. You can sign up for management listings and response, free but of course they will want to try to sell you something. Why is Yelp important? A few years ago there were no inns reviews on Yelp, now there are many. Yelp reviews get picked up by the search engines. More Gen Y age people use Yelp as a review platform then Tripadvisor, as they grow slightly older and become more of a B&B’s target age market, this will be important.

22. Note: The reviews (filtered) are not factored into the business’s overall star rating. Generally it’s the overly positive reviews that get filtered out. Too many “flagged” keywords.

23. Yelp reviews also get fed into Twitter

24. Yelp reviewers are generally even harder to please then Tripadvisor, statistically more comments lend toward including negative comments in with the postitives.

25. 35% of social media userschanged their hotel after browsing a social platform (source: World Travel Market, November 2010, reported by Tnooz)75% of customers now cite reviews as being influential when booking and making travel plans

26. Tripadvisor (the 800 lb. Gorilla)

27. Dashboard for management in Tripadvisor, pay attention to what goes on in the public TA forums as well.

28.-29. Business verification now requires a credit card number or

You can also complete your registration by faxing or emailing us any ONE of the legal documents listed below. Once we receive your document, we’ll review it and let you know we’ve registered you. If there’s a problem, we’ll contact you to let you know. With any document you send to TripAdvisor, please include the email address you provided while registering and the name of your business. Due to the volume of emails/faxes we receive, the average processing time using email or fax is 5 business days (processing times may vary). If you use a credit card, processing time is immediate!

Email: verify@tripadvisor.com

Fax: 1-800-853-8205

Acceptable Documents

Acceptable documents provide a clear connection between the owner/manager and a business. All documents must include the name of the requestor, the name and address of the business, and state a financial connection to the business. We accept ONLY these forms of documentation:

  • Property Tax document *
  • Bill of Sale for the business *
  • Utility Bill (dated within the last 3 months) *
  • Pay Stub

If your documentation does not meet the above requirements, please include a copy of your driver’s license or passport as well.

30. More then ½ of negative online reviews either mention or are prompted by issues with a lodging properties deposit and/or cancellation policies.

31. Calling someone out on a review only hurts your business. As you can see they posted this last November and it’s still online.

32. Take to heart things mentioned in reviews, you can learn things and improve upon them. This particular inn had dozens of reviews and just about every single one mentioned the “little notes”, even the very positive reviews. Feedback is key. In this case, do you think those annoy people?

33. Over reacting is common in a review, the first thought is to defend oneself. In this case the management response is basically saying well everyone else thinks we are great, what the heck is wrong with you?

34. This review was placed on a fairly positive review. Why?

35. Know when to stop engaging and back away & Don’t Feed the Trolls. Don’t encourage the ones that are nasty, they just get nastier. And the reviews written by the nuts will read to other people like the are written by nuts. A 3 page rant about a rodent, i.e. a chipmunk who they left the door open and it came in a cabin, is pretty obvious to others reading it that they reviewer is a little loopy as a loon.

36. Out of every review, positive, negative and in the middle, improvements can be gleaned if you step back and don’t take it personally. Especially if you have multiple people commenting about something, in this case, there were 3 other comments about the water pressure. This is a bad review but in combination with the others, maybe if you worked on getting low flow shower heads the water pressure would be better and people wouldn’t complain about it………………

37. Example of a response that is good but can be improved upon. Note half way the management response gets defensive.

38. Examples of redone response.

——————————————————————————————-Worksheet Handout:

Reputation Management Tips for Bed and Breakfasts

Check to see if your business name is taken on social networks:

Social Media Monitoring:

*Suggested

Real Time Search (twitter)

Other Sites besides Tripadvisor and Yelp that have reviews on them:

http://www.patch.com/

If you have one already or claim your business account, it lets you respond to reviews, there is no email notification system.

http://www.merchantcircle.com/merchant (paid and unpaid business listings)

In the Dashboard you do have the ability to remove or hide a review.

http://www.hotelchatter.com/

Ties in with 4square check-ins

You can’t claim a listing or post a response. But you can leave a comment on a review.

Yahoo Local Business Reviews

http://local.yahoo.com/

While there is no business response, you can write a comment on a review. (You must have a Yahoo account or login with Facebook or Google)

http://www.independenttraveler.com

Pulls reviews from Tripadvisor, but allows users to write a review on the site itself

Bed Bug Reports

Other places to check for reviews (and to make sure address, phone and website are correct)

Tips:

Don’t let guests review your inn on yourInn’s WiFi, Tripadvisor flags the IP address

Don’t offer incentives for reviews

Don’t offer reimbursement until you are sure of all the facts, as well as don’t state it publicly.

Steps for responding to a negative review

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Open Microsoft word or any other word processing application you like to use.
  3. Copy the review and paste it into the document.
  4. Take another deep breath.
  5. Read the review carefully, glean from it does the reviewer actually have a point that could have been fixed/avoided or is it something that can be fixed/avoided in the future.
  6. Take another deep breath
  7. Deconstruct the review. Are there positive things in it? What are the negatives?
  8. Take another deep breath.
  9. Write your response (don’t write your response right into the review site, even though some sites let you edit after the fact, the initial one usually gets emailed to the reviewer, so you are only playing catch-up to future readers.
  10. Re-read your response, re-read it again and then re-read until your sick of reading it.
  11. Deconstruct the response. Are there positive things in it? Are there negatives? If there are negatives, delete!
  12. If this is a review that really sticks in your craw, ask others that don’t have anything vested personally in it, to read it for feedback. This is very important for the bad ones. Once it hits the web, its there for all to see.
  13. In a file save the review and your response and date it. If a review is handled properly you might get the customer back in the door. Remembering who and what they had an issue with later on can turn a unhappy customer into a life long loyal one.
  14. Take another deep breath and move on.

If you are ever at a loss for how to respond, just apologize and let it go. The customer is always right in this case (even if they don’t know what a medium rare steak is supposed to look like, or thinks a certain brand of shampoo is better then the one in your amenities basket.) You are not looking to change their mind and you won’t, so think beyond that. You don’t argue with a drunk person, this is similar in philosophy. Acknowledgment is key.

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About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials https://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/marketing-for-lodging-resources/
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