Friday 28 September 2012

Scores rise on!

Dialogue works wonders for our hotel clients on

At HelpHound we monitor all our hotel clients’ performances on Since 1 January this year the results for our clients on have been truly outstanding: 93% of our clients have seen their scores rise or remain stable, with the 'risers' at 71%!

We don't take all the credit for these results, after all, a typical HelpHound client is dedicated to improving service and standards, but Dialogue's success in managing negatives before guests are tempted to post (remember - we see them all!) can rightfully take a bow.

But there's still room for improvement...

So let's look at those whose scores have drifted. In almost every case it transpires that they have been late in sending their emails out. The temptation to ‘hoard’ email addresses and send emails all at once on a particular day of the week is understandable, until the consequences are understood. send an automatic email to guests on the day they check out. So, to enable the guest to respond direct to the hotel through Dialogue, rather than posting publicly (and possibly affecting the hotel’s vital score) the Dialogue email must arrive first. Speed is of the essence.

In summary:

Send the emails immediately (some clients send them on the morning of departure and mention the 'invitation to review' on checkout - best practice). Your guest will then respond to you in private, giving you the chance to resolve any issues they may raise, in private, and your score stands an excellent chance of improving.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Well done Castles!

A fantastic start for Castles - joining in August, they already have 19 great reviews on their website (and counting), across all four disciplines. Really convincing testimonials especially from their prospective client's point-of-view. 

Words like 'professional', 'helpful', 'courteous', 'reassuring' and 'effective'; phrases like 'took a genuine interest', 'honest opinions', 'kept us well informed' and most frequent of all 'would have no hesitation in recommending'.

To see this review in full just click on the red 'Castles' link in the first paragraph (above). This will take you to Castles' website where you will see their Dialogue module with all their client reviews across all their services (buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants).

The secret of their success? Nothing unusual, but total commitment to the concept of building reviews into the customer service process. Castles' clients are expecting the email inviting them to post a review, so they do just that.

How is Dialogue being used by estate agents?

This has been a learning curve for us at HelpHound since we launched Dialogue to estate agents at Property Drum in the spring. Our hotel clients use Dialogue to (a) drive direct bookings through their websites and (b) manage complaints before they are posted on sites like TripAdvisor for all to see.

Estate agents like both these aspects – encouraging enquiries and neutralizing complaints - but are also specifically using Dialogue to drive up their 'valuation to instruction' success rates. By showing prospective clients relevant reviews to address specific issues and questions (an iPad helps here). 

Karen Hutchings, our Head of Client Administration (who will be familiar to many readers of this blog!) spoke to Duncan Pate, MD of Castles, and asked him what he considered the core benefits of Dialogue. His answer:

"Independence and credibility; it's not something we could have done ourselves." She went on to ask him if he thought Dialogue aided conversion. His response was candid: "We wouldn't be paying for it if it didn't."

We think that says it all!

The key to getting reviews

Agents are unanimous: the invitation must be sent by the member of staff the client has dealt with, and it should be followed up with a call explaining why the review is so important. Then the reviews will flow.

Misunderstanding the behaviour of potential guests?

Best Western in the US have embarked on a ‘brave’ venture. They have embedded TripAdvisor reviews on their hotels’ websites:

The first review for the first Best Western we searched for - click to read
 This is from their press release:

“Now our guests can read TripAdvisor traveler reviews without leaving our site, which not only saves time but also helps each guest choose the right Best Western hotel for their needs.”

We speak to hundreds of hoteliers every year, in private and in depth. We also analyse all our clients’ rankings on sites like TripAdvisor and So what have we learned?

1.     That hotels are vulnerable to negative reviews

For two reasons: first because that single negative will impact their ranking – it may not be read (we hear a lot of comments like “They can read between the lines”) - but that ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ rating will drive that hotel down the rankings against their competitors.

Second: a single ‘poor’ or terrible shown on page 1 will directly impact bookings. We have anecdotal evidence from hotels that this can be by as much as 15-20% while the review in question remains on page 1.

2.     That rankings on TripAdvisor and scores on matter

If we had a penny for the number of times we have heard travellers say “I will only book a hotel in the top 10.” (top 5, top 20 etc.). On “I will only book a hotel with a score of 8.5 or better.”

So: is it a good idea to show reviews (or even link to reviews) from an external site?

The key to the answer is ‘control’. You cannot control which reviews will be shown. On the face of it this sounds like a case of ‘honesty being the best policy’. In reality the hotel runs the risk of actively discouraging bookings.

There is another way!

You were expecting this:

Dialogue gives you all the positive benefits of the TripAdvisor embedded review system – and credibility (and bear in mind that our reviews are verified) – without the risk of exposing unmoderated negatives.

Control your reputation – get Dialogue!