1 Sept 2011

Reputation Management should be a Team Effort

Everyone who works in a hotel has their particular job and sticks to what they do best. But everyone, at some point, touches the guest and has the ability to shape his or her experience. 

Therefore online reputation management has got to be a team sport—hotel managers should strive to get everyone involved, experts say.

That’s not to say the housekeepers should be on TripAdvisor posting responses to reviews. Larger properties should have a dedicated point person, said Daniel Edward Craig, former GM of the Opus Hotel Vancouver and now an independent hotel consultant.

Whether you have an actual reputation manager or you’re not there yet, you need a gatekeeper—someone responsible for monitoring reviews and feedback,” he said. “Then you need a champion to make sure you’re acting on that feedback and responding to it.

For most hotels, one person can oversee online feedback from the variety of different sites—TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few. Craig said, for one midsized hotel, he estimates it takes approximately 10 hours per week to monitor and respond to critical reviews.

It requires discipline and some streamlining, but if you’re spending more than that you should be getting some strong results,” he said.

Josiah Mackenzie, director of business development at ReviewPro, said for any major initiative there has to be a point person making sure it’s coordinated and set up.

Who should that be? Choose the position more based on the personality than the person’s role in the organization,” he suggested. “Are they trustworthy? Detail oriented?

Get everyone involved
But online reputation has moved beyond monitoring and responding to reviews. Guest feedback now is being used to modify operations and price hotels. And for that to occur, different team leaders need to stay informed on what’s being said online. The reputation manager, if you will, must get the information to the right people at the right time.

The first thing I always recommend is it not just fall to one person at a property but the properties that really do well at reputation management are the ones where everyone is aware what effect their own personal job has on the hotel’s reputation,” said Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/), which recently modified its Management Center tool.

TripAdvisor’s new Management Center, released last week, gives hotels more functionality and new educational content, such as a library of videos, resources for training new staff, tip sheets, in-depth how-to guides and a blog with updated sources of information. It is intended to work in tandem with third-party reputation management software that aggregates feedback from additional sources.

Properties where it’s really cultural—where positive reviews are seen as positive affirmation—are the ones who really do well,” Payea said. “Not just one person but multiple people sign up for alerts.

He said the volume of reviews a hotel is receiving will determine how much time needs to be spent disseminating and responding.

If you’re getting consistently great reviews you don’t need to be quite as obsessive, but I definitely recommend responding as quickly as possible,” Payea said.

Mackenzie said the hotels most successful in reputation management are delighting customers by making it a “team sport” from operations to revenue to sales.

Make it very visible—something that can be tracked—and let everyone know, especially the frontline staff, that your job and your interaction with guests plays a huge role in occupancy,” he suggested.

As an example, Mackenzie said CitizenM hotels share guest feedback with its teams by printing out reports and placing them in staff break rooms. Another group of hotels incentivized staff members that are mentioned by name on a review, he said.

It’s a flawed strategy to say you can assign one person to reputation management and put it all on that person’s shoulders,” Payea said.

New to the game
At ZMC Hotels, a management company with a portfolio of 33 branded and independent hotels in 12 states, Ellen Troeltzsch is responsible for monitoring feedback and relaying important topics to each of the 33 hotels. ZMC has been using a third-party aggregator since March and admittedly is only in the beginning stages of using feedback to shape operations.

We’re growing some sort of development plan,” she said.

Currently the plan is Troeltzsch will monitor the reviews, draft a response and send it to the respective GM at the property. The GM will change or approve, send it back to Troeltzsch, who will then submit it to the appropriate site. “It’s a little cumbersome, but I don’t want to keep the GMs out of the loop,” she said.

She said GMs are good at being in the lobby and talking to customers but often times don’t want to sit behind a desk. For that reason, ZMC is telling GMs if they feel comfortable delegating the reputation management responsibilities they can.

The ones that have embraced it, get it. We have a couple of properties that have ongoing conversations on Facebook,” Troeltzsch said. “It’s a new habit and it’s one of a lot of new habits they have to get. The pressure is to bring money down to the bottom line and keep their employees and guests happy … This isn’t always on the top of their list. Once they get it, it’s easy and fun.

Article Source: HotelNewsNow - Reputation management should be a team effort: