Guest conflict is quite a challenging situation. Hotel management faces this every now and then. It can start with a little complaint and can intensify into a negative online review. Negative reviews can push potential guests away. It can place an enduring scar on your hotel’s reputation and revenue. However, you can avoid negative reviews from getting generated in the first place.
As (hotel) management, you should appreciate it when guests take the bold step to bring an issue bothering them to your attention. Guests who do this, help you indirectly or directly – since they are offering a platform to make things right. And knowing this, you need to respond to them in the right way, as your reaction will determine the outcome.
Below are strategic ways you can employ to avoid negative reviews.
1. Learn to Manage Expectations
What drives guests to approach you with what matters to them? We can say it can be related to the quality and level of service. When guests approach you with anything that is bothering them, be prepared to take proactive steps to make things right. If you ignore this, conflict is bound to arise. And it can lead to a negative online review.
Avoiding conflicts begin with setting realistic expectations for the experience you offer. Ensure that your service descriptions and other vital details are properly listed on your website and on OTAs. Highlighting all of these creatively – will reflect your business and keep it in a better position.
With regards to promotional materials centered on your property, minimize using phrases such as “best value”, or “uncompromising service” or “ultra-luxurious” or even “first-rate services” as this can work against you if you fall short of the promise. Only do so when you are fully confident that you can deliver on such promises at all times. Your hotel can be called out in reviews over such claims; so it is much better for you to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver to avoid negative reviews.
2. Take Note of Triggers
Most guests’ complaints (online reviews) center on how the staff handled a particular issue when it was brought to their attention. An inexperienced employee can arouse a guest’s anger through the things he says or does in response to the guest. Know that if your guest gets irate over a matter, it will be harder to come to terms with him or her.
Understand the following 3 kinds of triggers and work well with them if you are to avoid negative reviews:
Triggers that are Visual: This comprises those gestures that send signals, body language, personal presentation, posture and facial expressions, among others. If a guest comes to you, and you communicate while yet avoiding eye contact, having your jaw clamped together, or arms folded; he or she might quickly read the wrong signal and interpret your action as aggressive, lethargic, or inflexible. This means that you have to avoid visual expressions and triggers’ that reveal a lack of concern on your part.
Triggers that are Verbal: This has to do with things you say. If you interrupt or tell a guest that he or she is wrong or even simply refusing to accept responsibility & citing your hotel policy; can pass the wrong signal to them. So do as much as possible to avoid using words such as “I can’t”, or “You should have”, or anything around that context, as it is much better to tell the guest how you are willing to resolve the matter amicably for mutual benefit.
Triggers that are Vocal: This has to do with the tone of your voice. Avoid speaking too quickly as this can irritate the guest, instead try to speak slowly, clearly and objectively, and with an assuring tone.
Know that your choice of words is very vital to be on the right side with your guests.
3. Find out what really must have irritated the guest and be empathetic with them
Put yourself in the guest’s shoes. Keep the guests at ease by reassuring them that you understand and you are there to help. Offer an apology where required – as this can help appease a guest that’s upset.
Follow-up with your guests on the promises made and take vital steps to ensure the problem doesn’t persist.
4. Always maintain a positive attitude even if you are right and they are wrong
Don’t take offense or be angered by your guest and try much to control your triggers. It’s always your responsibility as a hotel representative to keep your guests satisfied with the services. To avoid negative reviews, attitude is the key – so portray a positive one.
5. Lastly, perform regular checks
Don’t wait until the guests stay expires to fix an issue. Perform regular checks which can include something as simple as asking guests ‘How is your stay in our hotel going so far?’ This can open up a discussion that will alert you to signs of trouble or satisfaction. This shows some good level of concern and this can appease an upset guest.
When you handle situations strategically, you’ll directly be averting negative reviews, and in the process, you are more likely generate positive ones. However, having taken all the steps in right direction, you could still get some negative reviews. In that case, refer to our guide on replying to negative reviews to minimize their impact on potential guests.