7 Best Practices to Ensure Positive Hotel Guest Reviews During Peak Season
16th August 2019
Peak season is full of potential and opportunity. The thing that makes this time of year so busy? Guests. Obviously, right? New people are arriving every day, excited for their vacation and everything that comes with seeing a new destination. You have full occupancy, a busy lobby, and countless check-ins to get through each day. With peak season comes an increased workload and more chances (and pressure) to ensure that guests have a fantastic experience.
What is the best way to elevate this season and make it even better than the last… all at the same time? Look at past reviews while also getting current ones. Ultimately, reviews from guests will help make this season a success as you implement peak season best practices. They’ll leave feedback on comment cards at the front desk. They’ll tell you how much they enjoyed their stay in person. And, most importantly, they’ll leave online reviews that detail everything they loved (and didn’t love) about their stay with you. It’s real-time feedback on your service and their experience, delivered by the people who matter most. The guests.
Online feedback can make or break your peak season because 95% of potential guests read online reviews before choosing a hotel. It’s clear that guests won’t book a stay without the social proof that comes from reading online reviews. As they conduct research for their upcoming trip, they’re proactively looking to read about the experiences that other people have had. The more positive reviews, the more trustworthy your hotel will look and more people will book. It’s as simple as that, but there is also more to it.
Past feedback = future success
Building a strong online reputation is crucial as guests become more informed (and discerning) than ever. 84% of people trust online views just as much as a recommendation from a friend, which means that increasing both the quality and quantity of reviews is vital to getting a competitive edge. Need more motivation to step up your online review strategy? A recent study found that review stars can boost click-through rates by up to 35%.
But reviews matter for more than just click-through rates and occupancy levels. They’re a great indication of how your hotel is operating on a day-to-day level in the eyes of your guests. The feedback they give, both positive and negative, can help shape the next guest’s experience. Used correctly, the reviews from this year’s peak season can help things run even more smoothly next season.
Since positive reviews lead to more bookings, and more bookings lead to increased revenue, taking a proactive approach to managing your guest’s experience is vital. However, that can be a challenge during peak season, as more guests can mean more potential for mishap. But just because the build up to peak season can feel intimidating doesn’t mean it needs to be overwhelming. We have compiled six best practices to follow that will help you streamline your service, provide the best guest experience possible, and ensure that you get those positive reviews in the bag.
1. Provide Outstanding Service
The first, and best, place to start when it comes to giving your guests a positive experience during peak season is by continuing to provide the same outstanding service that you’re known for during the rest of the year. Special experiences that stand out for guests, like a great conversation during check-in, or suggestions for local attractions, make them feel prioritized even during the busiest of days.
Maintaining the human element of hospitality is crucial during peak season - and it’s something that every hotel has complete control over. Not only can the guests see how busy it is, but they’re likely feeling stressed from their travel too. Each staff member has the power to create positive interactions with guests, especially because they’re usually the first and last impressions of a hotel.
Genuine conversations, friendly staff, and special touches all help create moments that make guests remember their experiences with you - and it gives them something they’d want to write a review about.
2. Focus on Your Guest Experience
Outstanding service doesn’t just happen during those noteworthy interpersonal moments. Improving guest experience gets easier every day as technology, and mobile apps, become more integrated into our lives. It’s so integrated, in fact, that 70% of guests want to use their smartphone to speed up check in and services. By capitalizing on this opportunity and using custom-branded mobile apps, hotels can offer elevated services like mobile check-in, self-service, in-app room keys, and ask for feedback. All in one.
By allowing every guest to choose their preferred experience, you’re giving them complete control over their stay - and their interactions with your property and staff. If they just want to arrive, go to their room, and shut the door, then a mobile app is perfect for the efficient kind of stay they’re after. But if they’d rather a high touch experience, they can have that too. Especially when the little details (like digital room keys) can still be handled within an app, making their stay even more convenient.
Technology also helps ease the pressure for staff during peak season. Travellers expect immediate access to information, and branded mobile apps allow staff to quickly respond to requests on a 24/7 basis. Tech is now so critical to guests that 67% of travelers are more likely to choose a hotel that allows guests to check in and open doors with a smartphone than one that doesn’t. With their own app, hotels can provide personalised, real-time service in a much more efficient way. Custom apps can also:
- Welcome guests before their arrival and send them useful information, like directions to the hotel
- Share local knowledge and recommendations
- Speed up the check-in process
- Provide a digital room key and in-room services
- Allow early bookings or request late check-outs
- Send reminders to leave an online review or feedback
While location is an important aspect, guest experience is the gold standard that matters when it comes to the overall quality of a hotel. When you can provide exactly the kind of stay they want, no matter their preferences, they’ll become the kind of loyal customer that keeps coming back for more. Which is handy, because mobile apps also help encourage direct, repeat bookings.
3. Ask for a Review
Check-in is the first chance you’ll have to interact with a guest in person. It also happens to be a great time to ask them to tag their location in a post on social media. Of course, a complimentary snack, discount at the bar, or free WiFi are also a great incentive for them as well. Signs in the lobby or in each room are another subtle reminder to post on social media, and tend to be less ‘in-your-face’ than staff members bringing it up throughout their stay.
Another way to ask for a review, while also providing a memorable moment for your guest, is to offer a parting gift when they check out. It can be anything from a postcard with a scenic view of the area to something with a local touch, like a specialty candy. Whatever it is, adding a simple reminder message with a personal touch is a great way to make each guest feel special during a busy peak season, and leaves them with a positive last impression. And that, coincidentally, helps increase the chance that your hotel will have another positive review online.
A guest's opinion of their stay is the best way to help improve the overall hospitality experience because it is direct feedback. It’s also usually what they’ll mention to their friends, family, colleagues, and write about in their online reviews. Before you ask a guest for a review of their stay, it’s important to consider the kind of experience they had. If they had a smooth, pleasant stay, then they’ll probably be happy to leave a review for your hotel. But if they became well-known at the front desk for the amount of times they called down for ice, or any less-than-positive reason, this would be a good opportunity to try to remedy the situation before making your request (which we’ll get to in a moment).
4. Respond to Feedback
Continually seeking reviews from guests, especially during peak season, are the best way to improve both future experiences and current management practices. Best case scenario: a guest had a fantastic time, loved the personal touches and ability to use tech to improve their experience, and left a five-star review on TripAdvisor. Worst case scenario? Someone leaves a bad review.
Both scenarios need a careful and thoughtful response, especially if it’s on an online forum. Whether the feedback is positive, negative, or something completely outside of the hotel’s control, every response is a reflection of your brand. Positive reviews take time to write, and a grateful response can continue to make a guest feel valued - even after they’ve left.
On the other hand, negative reviews can be mitigated with a considerate response that empathises with the guest and the issue(s) they faced during their stay. They’ll also help you gain insight and improve because you’ll learn about and be able to fix problems before they get worse.
Need extra reassurance? Research shows that negative reviews are actually better for business than no reviews. And, really, it’s not all bad either because writing a thoughtful response to a negative review helps build authenticity with potential guests because you’re taking a proactive approach to fixing whatever might have gone wrong during someone’s stay. Credibility is another positive result of a negative review when you consider the fact that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when there’s both criticism and praise. And we know how much weight potential guests place on reviews (see above if you’ve forgotten already).
Back to the positives, though. A great review is also the perfect opportunity to lay the foundation for business in the future. Someone who loved their stay is happy to recommend it to their friends, and is more likely to sign up to a newsletter for special offers or join a loyalty program. Especially after you’ve used your hotel app to prompt them for feedback or connected with them to say thank you for a great review.
5. Make It Easy for Your Guests
You’ve given them outstanding service. You’ve elevated their experience with technology that gave them exactly what they’re looking for during their stay with you. You’ve asked them for a review. Now it’s time to make it as easy as you possibly can to leave a positive review about their trip.
Before you ask your guest for a review, make sure your property is listed on as many online platforms as possible. That way they can write a glowing review of their stay on whatever platform they like to use most (without being limited to posting somewhere that they might not already be registered with). Your presence on as several sites also helps legitimising your business to potential guests because they’ll be able to find you, and read reviews, no matter where they look.
Criton offers an integration with GuestRevu, which makes it easy for guests to leave a review on Tripadvisor or Google from your own hotel app. TripAdvisor and Google are the most popular sites, but the more online review platforms your property is listed on, the better. This helps build authority and ranking in search engine optimisation. And, while you’re checking to make sure your hotel is listed anywhere and everywhere, make sure the details are accurate and consistent across platforms. You wouldn’t want someone to go to the wrong address because they happened to look on Yelp.
6. Remember to Follow Up with Them
Since 71% of people will leave a review if asked, you really have nothing to lose by making the request. Luckily, technology makes it easy to follow up with guests through app notifications, automated email reminders, or by providing links on various touch points.
Guests are busy. After all, they have just finished a trip. It’s safe to say that they might have forgotten to leave a review, haven’t made time for it yet, or didn’t realize that it would be valuable. A simple follow-up email with a polite request, including links to a review page, can be the difference between no reviews and pages of positive feedback.
Internet booking engines, PMS integrations, or app-embedded review software can help make automatic email requests for reviews easier than using a digital door key (read: incredibly simple). A genuine email thanking guests for their stay, while inviting them to share their experience, can help ensure that you have a steady stream of current, relevant reviews being posted online by happy guests.
Ready to send that follow-up reminder? Make sure your timing is right. The two best times to ask a guest for a review are between 2-3 PM and 6-7 PM, since that’s when they’re most likely to have time to spend on the internet.
7. Valuing Guest Experience is Always in Season
One of the biggest challenges during a busy peak season is making each guest feel valued and appreciated during their stay. But when your focus stays on the guest, and not simply surviving a busy season, it becomes infinitely easier to make sure that memorable moments turn into a remarkable trip… and a great review.
Consistently asking guests how their stay is, or if there is anything you can do to improve their trip, are the types of interactions that let guests know you care. Especially during busy days. When every staff member makes engaging with guests a core part of their day, and takes every opportunity they can to do it, people will be more likely to write positive reviews.
But positive reviews during peak season are more than the result of great guest interactions and fantastic experiences. We know that people are much more likely to leave a review when they’re asked, so taking a broad strategy in getting those reviews is key. Quality and quantity are both important, just like making sure your hotel is listed on as many platforms as possible. It makes it easier for your guest to leave a great review on the platform of their choice and simultaneously reaching a larger audience.
As travel evolves, so should your experience
While building authority and trust online is crucial, reviews during peak season also help contribute to improvements in the hotel and for future guests. And, even better, quality feedback helps nurture guest loyalty because it helps them feel engaged. Especially when they have an app on their phone that rewards them for repeat visits while giving you insight on their habits.
As guests continue to share the moments that have made their stay memorable, especially because you’ve asked and reminded them to do so, you’ll gain a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and what gives them something to talk about. Whether you’re a small establishment or a multinational chain, peak season is a great time to incorporate technology that makes your guest’s stay as seamless as possible while letting them take control of their experience. They’ll become more engaged, happier with their visit, and have great memories from their trip. All of which are critical factors in a positive guest review.
How Criton can help you?
At Criton, we give independent hotels and serviced apartment operators access to the same technology that big chains already adopt. We have created mobile apps with a wide range of functionalities (including push notifications, messaging, ordering, PMS integration, digital key) for clients including luxury boutique hotels and national chains of serviced apartments. Get in touch today to find out how we can help your business.