Monday, 25 March 2013

Reputations aren't built (or repaired) in a day

As all hoteliers know - a great reputation isn't built overnight. Ironically almost the opposite can be true of online reputations (TripAdvisor rankings and Booking.com scores). Let us explain...

All OTA ranking and scoring systems are essentially pretty simple. Scores and ranks are the product of simple mathematical equations (often called 'algorithms'): they amalgamate the individual guests' scores and calculate these over a period of time. And it's this 'period of time' that can work in favour or against a hotel's online reputation.

In favour?

A new property starts from scratch, and these days, when most hoteliers know the issues, effective CRM can encourage guests to post positive reviews and some negatives can be managed. But the single greatest advantage is that there shouldn't be any reason for guests to complain about the physical structure of the hotel - no 'tired rooms'. 'worn carpets' or 'ancient plumbing'.

Against?

It has taken a while for some hoteliers to understand just how important their TripAdvisor ranking or Booking.com score is to their ability to maintain RevPAR. When they do, they often face an uphill struggle to mend the historic damage and don't completely understand why it takes so long.

The answer?

All OTA ranking and scoring algorithms include an historical element. While they (TripAdvisor and the OTAs) don't publish the full extent of this, logic dictates that it has to be about 18 months. This means that even if a hotel addresses its ranking (on, say, TripAdvisor) immediately and totally effectively, it will take about 18 months for any historical negatives to work their way through and be excluded from the algorithm (and thus their ranking or score).

So, with this knowledge you can see how urgent it is to adopt a positive strategy if rankings and scores are to be addressed. A month's delay simply means 19 months before the hotel's online reputation is completely 'clean'.

Some notes with special reference to Dialogue™...

Our clients know just how effective Dialogue can be in achieving this. But it is critical to note that for Dialogue to be truly effective it must be given a chance to work - and that means (a) harvesting the maximum number of email addresses and (b) sending those emails as soon as possible after the guest checks out. 

If 10 guests check out and one is unhappy enough to resort to posting a negative on TripAdvisor or an OTA and the hotel has all 10 email addresses there's a great chance that the dissatisfied guest will respond to the hotel, and not post a public review (thus damaging rankings and scores). If only 5 email addresses have been harvested, then there's a 50% chance that 'Mr or Mrs Dissatisfied' will post in public. If the guest receives the email days after check-out it may be too late. It's as simple as that.





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