In the hospitality and travel industry, a property lives and dies by their reputation. In order to boost guest loyalty, get more referrals, and continue growing your business year after year, you have to spend time proactively managing your reputation.
Thanks to the popularity and transparency of online review tools found on Yelp, Google Places, and Facebook Pages, your ability to monitor and influence the opinions of your guests has never been more important.
Consider the following statistics:
- 58% of Americans perform online research about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. — via Help Scout
- Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, and tell 16 (nearly two times more) people about poor experiences. — via Help Scout
- 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. — via Help Scout
- People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. — via Referral Saasquatch
- A little more than half (53%) of 18- to 29-year-olds and 47% of 30- to 49-year-olds say they always or almost always read online reviews when buying something for the first time. — via Pew Research Center
For some property managers, reputation management might involve working to fix a damaged reputation, and for others, it might simply mean doing what you can to improve the already-good reputation that you’ve worked hard to establish and maintain as a business over the years.
Regardless of what kind of reputation you currently have among past guests and interested travelers, more work can and should be done in order to ensure the future success of your business.
Here are 6 actionable tips for repairing a damaged reputation, and 6 tips for strengthening a good reputation:
How to Repair a Damaged Reputation
A bad reputation can creep up slowly over a number of years, or it can happen over night. If, for whatever reasons, you’ve been struggling with reputation issues lately at your property, put yourself, your team, and your business on the road to recovery by following these 6 tips:
Tip # 1: Identify the Problem
The first step you need to take when working to repair a bad reputation is to identify the problem. You’ve already accepted the fact that you’ve damaged the perception and trust that travelers have of your property. In order to start making improvements, you have to dig deeper and try to find the root of the problem.
To identify what’s causing reputation issues for your property, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Is this a recent problem, or have I heard this feedback from people before?
- Is there a specific event or series of events that took place that have impacted our reputation?
- What do I think is the real root of the problem? Is it the way our employees communicate with guests? Does it have to do with our accommodations? The food we serve? Are we making any sort of false promises to the people who book reservations with us?
- Have I taken time to read through online reviews about our property in order to identify similarities in the feedback that is being provided?
- Have guests talked to me or my employees about specific issues, and if so, were they resolved?
Thinking more intentionally about these questions and trying to come up with answers will help you develop a plan for addressing the issues that are ultimately affecting your reputation.
Tip # 2: Commit to Transparency
In order to repair your reputation, you need to commit to being transparent with your team, your guests, and your social media followers. People are already going online to talk about their experiences staying at your property and interacting with your employees, so as a property manager, the best thing you can do when you’re trying to fix the issues and make amends with people is to engage and participate in the discussion.
As long as there are no potential legal ramifications or confidentiality concerns associated with the issue you’re trying to address, be honest with people about it. Respond to negative reviews and tell reviewers that you’ve identified some problem areas, you’re working on fixing them, and you appreciate any support they can give. Continue giving progress updates to your followers as you work to fix the problems that negatively impacted your reputation. The more transparent you can be with people, the more likely they will be to forgive you and give you a second chance.
Tip # 3: Meet with Your Team
The third step in the process is to meet with your team and formulate a repair plan. Who you bring into the discussion will ultimately depend on what you think the issues affecting your reputation are. If it’s one employee who has been providing bad customer service to guests, for example, it’s best to keep the conversation confidential and between you and that employee. If it’s a larger issue however, it might be beneficial to meet with your entire team and talk about how to address and repair the issues affecting your ability to convert travelers into guests.
Your goal during this meeting is to come up with a specific, realistic, and time-sensitive game plan for fixing the issues that are affecting your business. By the end of the meeting, you should have clear takeaways, tasks, and deadlines for all stakeholders involved.
Tip # 4: Execute Your Plan
When you’ve got all the pieces in place, your next step is to execute on the plan you designed with your team members. Remember that in order to be successful in ultimately repairing your reputation, you need to be transparent with everyone involved—your leadership team, your employees, your past and current guests, and possibly even your social media followers. To effectively execute your plan and start making progress, you need buy-in from your team, and you need to reestablish the trust you once had with your audience.
Tip # 5: Get Feedback
As you work to execute your plan, make sure to get feedback along the way to ensure that you’re actually taking the right steps.
For example, if you had a bad reputation because of your food, hire new chefs, introduce new menus, and see what your guests think. Offer incentives and discounts to get people to come back to your property and see what’s changed.
Or, if it becomes apparent that some of your employees lack skills in the areas of communication and customer service, spend time training them, then ask your guests for feedback about specific employees. You could also invite people you know to come stay at your property as “mystery guests” in order to see whether improvements are actually being made.
This feedback will help you understand what’s working and what still needs work in order to bring more guests through your doors again.
Tip # 6: Track & Share Progress
As you get feedback and start to experience changes at your property, make sure to track and share progress all along the way. It’s important to do this for two reasons: first, it allows you praise those among your team who are taking the task seriously and working to help you save your business. When you praise your employees, you show them that you care. When they know you care and appreciate their hard work, they are happier, more loyal, more productive, and more invested in helping you succeed. Second, it allows you to engage with your followers and past guests and build up trust with them again.
A poor reputation is not going to magically improve overnight, but it will happen in time if you stay committed to the task at hand. If you’re in a situation like this right now at your property, don’t give up! Implement the 6 tips outlined above, and if you don’t see improvements in one area that you fix, go through the process again in order to identify and fix other issues that could also be affecting your reputation and ability to get people to convert.
How to Continue Improving a Good Reputation
Even during times when business is good, it’s still important that you work proactively to continue maintaining and improving your reputation. If you’re in a situation like this at your property, consider utilizing these 6 tips:
Tip # 7: Talk with Guests
As a property manager, you should always be making time to talk with guests, even when everything seems to be going great. It only takes one bad experience and one bad review to damage your reputation and the perception that people have of your business and team.
To be proactive about talking to guests, you could:
- Check in with guests at least once during their stay to ensure that they have everything they need.
- Check in with guests at checkout to learn more about their experience at your property.
- Send a follow-up email a few days after your guests leave asking them to fill out a short survey about their experience staying with you.
- Always encourage guests to contact you about any concerns they have while staying at your property. You could either give them your personal email, direct them to an online form, or have them talk to a designated individual on your leadership or management team.
The feedback you get will allow you to give praise to your employees, and address any concerns that could evolve into bigger problems if they continue to go unchecked.
Tip # 8: Collect and Leverage Testimonials
If your guests are happy with the experience and customer service you’re providing to them, make sure to use it to your advantage! Ask guests to leave testimonials at the front desk before they check out, or invite them to leave a review on your website, Facebook page, or online listing directory page.
You can use the kind words you get from happy guests to build trust with new leads by including it blog posts, Facebook ads, email marketing campaigns, website landing pages, videos, and anywhere else you think it could make an impact.
Tip # 9: Standardize Training and Processes
When things are going well, you want to make sure to take the time to standardize training and processes for your team. As your business scales and ages, employees will come and go. As a property manager, it’s your job to ensure that new employees understand how to keep the machine running and your reputation intact. That means working with your current employees to document expectations, job duties, and guest interaction best practices.
Standardizing training in this way will allow you to onboard new employees much faster, and will help prevent any reputation degradation from happening as a result of inexperience on your team.
Tip # 10: Don’t Get Too Comfortable
When business is good, it’s crucial that you don’t let yourself or your employees get too comfortable. Remember: your reputation can be destroyed overnight. When you’re too comfortable, you let things slide that you didn’t used to, and you don’t pay as close attention to the details. To ensure that you’re proactively thinking about your reputation, keep your expectations high, set audacious goals for your team to work toward, and be obsessed with the idea that there is always room for improvement.
Tip # 11: Take Time to Appreciate Your Team
If you’re lucky enough to have a good reputation among your guests and followers, it likely means you have a strong, supportive, and passionate team behind you. To keep your reputation intact going forward, you have to keep your employees motivated and happy. Take time to appreciate them and give them praise for their hard work. Here are a few ways you can show your employees that you care:
- Cater in lunch for the team once a month.
- Plan a fun off-site outing to strengthen the bond that exists between your team members.
- Offer annual bonuses to show your appreciation for a year’s worth of hard work.
- Occasionally write and hand-deliver personalized thank you cards for each of your employees that explain why you’re grateful to have them on the team.
Simple acts of kindness like the examples outlined above can go a long way when you’re trying to show your team that you care. As I mentioned earlier, when your employees are happy and feel appreciated by you, they are more loyal, more productive, and more committed to helping you make your business a success.
Tip # 12: Serve and Delight Your Guests
Finally, make sure to always focus on serving and delighting your customers. If you and your employees are constantly going out of your way to wow your guests and create amazing experiences for them, you’ll never have to worry about having to fix a damaged reputation.
Over to You
What other tips would you add to this list based on your experience? Tell me in the comments below.