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December 19, 2019

Hotel Expert Q&A – Are Morch

Expert Q&A Blog - Are Morch

It’s no secret that we live in a fully transparent world when it comes to how guests feel about businesses they deal with. With popular reviews sites like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and many others, it’s now impossible for businesses to ignore unhappy guests.

This is no different in the hospitality industry, where online reviews are a key factor in how guests choose one hotel over another.

As a proof point, a recent infographic from Aremorch.com, revealed some compelling stats from TripAdvisor that shows not only the importance of online reviews for hotels, but the opportunity hotels have to get ahead of those negative reviews.

Some of the stats from the infographic include:

  • 95% of travelers trust online reviews
  • 85% of travelers read up to 10 reviews
  • 78% say reviews help them feel more confident in their decisions

When compared to a startling data point from Zingle’s recent Guest Service Report 75% of guests don’t report all issues that impact their experience to a hotel — it shows that by losing touch with the majority of their guests, hotels risk more negative online reviews that jeopardize future business.

To get more insights into how hotels can better communicate with guests and provide a better experience to improve their online reviews, we asked Are Morch, a hospitality industry veteran and hotel marketing / customer experience expert several questions.

ZINGLE: I loved your recent infographic on responding to social reviews, but do hotels have an opportunity to identify those potential negative issues and reviews before guests leave when they can still turn around the experience and avoid being put on blast?

ARE MORCH: Most definitely. Tools like social media listening and other strategies enable hotels to be more proactive. In the past, from a hotel perspective, traditional surveys — whether it’s through email or a physical feedback cards or even letters — got us behind because the experience has ended. If there was a concern, there was no time to fix it. Guests today have the tools to share their experience in the moment, so hotels need to be there and listen and respond to them in real time.

Hotels need to also provide educational information for guests. Identify the sweet spot — key micro moments and connect with guests so you build a relationship and a sense of community. Not only with guests, but also with employees. The front-line employees are the ones that will have the information needed to improve the guest experience.

ZINGLE: We recently surveyed 1,100 consumers and our research showed that only 25% of guests report every issue that impacts the guest experience. Does the industry as a whole do a good job of service recovery or is this a large area for improvement?

ARE: It’s definitely an area that needs improvement because what I have seen over the years is that the hotel industry was considered a service industry, and now it has become an experience industry. This is where we see a huge opportunity for hotels, to gather information and leverage employees to listen and connect with guests to show them you care.

And what’s been lacking in the industry are the operational tools that the guest-facing employees need to better communicate with their guests. So instead of having to call the manager every time there is a concern, we can now provide them with tablets, mobile applications, mobile messaging or voice devices that they can pull up to see hotel or concierge information and communicate with managers, housekeepers, or whomever they need to contact in an easy way.

If a guest gets passed around to different employees and then finally gets to talk to a manager, the level of frustration becomes much higher and the ability for the manager to fix the issue becomes more difficult. So there is a huge potential for hotels to improve communication and provide a better experience.

ZINGLE: It’s hard to fix problems if you don’t know you have them. How can hotels encourage more feedback and increase engagement?

ARE: It starts with having the right tools to listen to your guests and get the right information. You will often see that most guest concerns are easily fixable, but sometimes people don’t take the time to listen to the guest and identify the source of the issue so they don’t actually fix the problem.

So when the guest goes home angry, it will be reflected in their review because it negatively affected their overall experience. It goes back to being able to provide your front-line employees with the proper tools, dedication and knowledge so they have the ability to bring out that important information from guests, as your survey states.

Hotels need to better train their staff to engage with guests and build a relationship with them so they feel comfortable sharing any concerns.

ZINGLE: How can technology help with improving guest engagement and the overall experience?

ARE: What I’ve seen is that the hotels that use technology are becoming more cost effective from both front of house as well as the backend operational side. Hotels are now using more technology to understand guest needs and wants and being able to show the guests everything that the hotel offers because most of the time, guests don’t know everything about a hotel.

We’re starting to see more hotels use video technology to show guests details about the hotel from an employee perspective. Highlighting what each department does can expand that knowledge to let guests know they are more than just a hotel by showing the local community, and letting people know that they care about their experience.

Example below shows how Cosmopolitan Casino & Resort uses video to bring the guest experience to life.

For example, I’ve seen hotels use drone cameras to showcase their property and highlight specific areas of interest to excite guests. It’s more than pictures on a website, but really showcasing the experience in an engaging way.

I’ve also seen hotel collaborate with local restaurants and event venues to integrate the guest experience by partnering with loyalty programs so guests can use points at local businesses, make a reservation at a local restaurant and even charge their meals to the hotel bill.

With social media and mobile messaging, there is a lot more ways for hotels to reach their guests. Immediate communication is extremely important today and the good thing is that there are tools to support it.

ZINGLE: But at the same time, you can’t automate guest service and hospitality. Any tips or advice on how to balance high tech with the personal touch?

ARE: It’s definitely important for hotels to have that balance between technology and human interaction. Technology is just a tool, and we can rely on it too much and use it as an excuse to not talk with guests.

For example, if the power goes out at a hotel, it shouldn’t prevent staff from communicating with guests personally and still provide them with whatever they need. So it goes back to equipping the employees with the training, knowledge and tools to handle any situation. Even if technology is not in the picture, that should not prevent employees from providing a great experience.

About Are Morch

I am a Hotel Marketing Coach driven by my passion and love for Hotels.

Are Morch – Hotel Marketing Coach provides dedicated high-value Social Media marketing services for the Hotel Industry.

Together with our Social Media management team, our mission is to help Hotel brands achieve rapid growth and dominant presence in the ever-changing digital landscape.

For more insightful articles from Are, VISIT THE ARE MORCH BLOG!

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