WTM Africa is one of the highlights of the continent’s hospitality calendar, bringing together thought leaders in the African hospitality industry for three days of networking, talks and exhibitions in Cape Town, South Africa.
GuestRevu representatives not only attended the event, mingling with leading minds in the industry, but GuestRevu CEO and Founder, Chris Alexandre, was also selected to talk to attendees about how guest reviews can help maximise hotel revenue.
With nearly every traveller reading a review before making a booking decision, it’s not only essential for hotels to analyse and manage their feedback online, but also to accept the impact they can have on revenue. If you missed his talk, here are some highlights:
1. People use guest reviews to help them make travel decisions
Before making a decision about where to stay, many, if not most travellers, consult online reviews. A recent study by Deloitte found that 42% of British holidaymakers used review sites to plan their last holiday, 40% of travellers told Hotelmarketing that they would not stay in an accommodation with more than three negative reviews, and BrightLocal found that 88% of travellers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. “Guest behaviour and booking patterns have changed dramatically” says Chris. “It’s not about price anymore as the main influencer [of booking decisions], it’s about the reviews and the recommendations”.
2. The online space presents a new way to connect with guests
“New opportunities are opening up all the time for hotels to connect with their guests and engage with their guests and therefore influence online reviews and drive traffic,” says Chris. These opportunities exist throughout the guest journey, including the pre-stay period (before guests have arrived but after they have booked), during their stays, after their stays (in the form of guest satisfaction questionnaires and online reviews), and further into the future in the form of ongoing marketing, loyalty programmes and community building.
3. Hoteliers are getting busier all the time, but the guest remains at the centre
The average hotelier’s to-do list is getting longer and longer, and guest relations is just one thing on that list (although it is a very important task). “It’s our job to provide tools that help hotel GMs and the staff at the hotel to manage their relationships with their guests as much as possible,” Chris told WTM Africa. “What we constantly keep at the centre of all of the chaos is the guest, their impact, and their opinions and feedback in terms of the property, the service, and their whole experience – at GuestRevu our mission is to listen to, learn from and earn from guests.”
4. Reviews have a direct impact on revenue
Better review scores mean more bookings, and more demand for your hotel means you can increase prices up without losing out on occupancy. Furthermore, guests are generally willing to spend more for a hotel with good reviews, while even discounted pricing can’t make up for bad reviews in the eyes of guests. “The online reputation of a property and its guest feedback directly impacts the bottom line, and it happens very quickly,” says Chris. “A better online reputation means you’re going to get more bookings, an improved occupancy and improved revenue for your property.”
5. Guest intelligence can inform marginal gains
As a sporting term, “marginal gains” was coined by British Cycling director Dave Brailsford, who claimed, “If you break down everything you can think of that goes into your sport, and then improve it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together”. This theory can be applied to hospitality as well, and is an excellent way to improve guest experience and management strategies at hotels.
“When we’re looking for the 1% in hospitality we look across multiple different areas;” says Chris, “the reservations process, housekeeping, communications, distributions – in all of the different ‘service drivers’ of that property, if we can improve each one of those areas marginally, when they all work together the resulting effect is significant.”
The biggest impact on revenue will come from action, and seeking those marginal gains
“Hoteliers need to proactively address the guest feedback that is coming in, and use it to make operational decisions to drive and maximise revenue,” says Chris, “There are very few areas of a hotel that are not affected by guest feedback.” By managing and monitoring your feedback, you will gain ground over competitors who are not doing so, but to truly make the most of your feedback to positively impact your revenue, you need to instil a culture of valuing guest feedback in your hotel, empower staff to provide a better service to guests, and action the insights collected via feedback in real and tangible ways.
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