Adele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM
Why Reputation Management Doesn’t Work
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
Revolutionize your positive results when you start with an aspirational vision of the kind of reviews you want to inspire.
Stop Managing. Start Inspiring.
I cringe every time I hear the term ‘reputation management’. This may surprise you considering I’ve spent the better part of 20 years at Library Hotel Collection (LHC) honing my skills in this arena and, over time, becoming the recognized authority on hospitality reputation management. But when I hear someone say these two words, they are often reducing their thinking to the unpleasant task of trying to control an unruly onslaught of negative reviews that does not align with the brand’s desired messaging.
This is a self-limiting mindset that I would like to help business leaders liberate themselves from. That practice is frustrating and time-consuming, but above all it fails to produce significant and satisfying results. Instead of solely providing service recovery for a past transgression, guest feedback should instead be embraced by savvy managers as the best path to improve your hotel – a proactive rather than reactive outlook.
To win powerful and lasting positive results, you need to first focus your mindset. Think of this discipline as reputation marketing where the vision is to create tomorrow’s outstanding brand reputation and the goal is to optimize long-term revenue.
This shift in approach has been highly effective, as proven many times over by the results I have observed at LHC. Using the system that I coached them on, our team devoted themselves to the vision and achieved spectacular increases in demand for all the hotels. The top guest satisfaction ratings for every hotel in our portfolio were recognized with an overall 96.1% Global Review Index™ (GRI), an industry-standard metric facilitated by ReviewPro.
Imagine how proud our entire team was knowing that all the extra kindness that they gave to guests everyday was able to help our company surpass every luxury brand in the world – all far more famous than ours – by taking the number one ranking for guest satisfaction.
When you stop reading reviews as though they are a chore – and solely with the aim of quickly responding then moving on – and start listening to your guests with the earnest intent of being helpful, solving problems and making travelers happy, everything will start to change. Reputation marketing empowers teams, optimizes performance and enhances the results of every initiative you undertake.
When you have an abundance of enthusiastic social proof where guest reviews not only support your brand promises but surpass them, you will inevitably achieve:
· Elevated consumer confidence and perceived value
· Ability to increase ADR
· Increased ranking on review sites for a stronger billboard effect
· Heightened organic traffic to your website
· Greater conversion rate for your sales team
· Ability for sales managers to negotiate rates from a position of strength
· Increased loyalty and return guests, with many becoming brand advocates
Most importantly, your teams will feel pride knowing that they are valued, that their actions are appreciated by guests and that their success is making a powerful contribution to the financial goals of the business. Not only will this help with employee retention, but it will also help transform your property or company into an aspirational organization to therefore allow you to capture talent with passion and grow your business with true believers in the brand’s vision.
In this sense, great reviews can be highly addictive. Once your team sees their efforts reflected in the enthusiastic five-star reviews being generated, they will enjoy the feeling so much that they will continue to surpass their efforts with each passing day. It’s a virtuous circle. The caveat is that this will only happen as long as leadership keeps supporting and encouraging the team on this mission of hospitality every day.
So, while many hotel managers and owners may be looking for specific tips to mitigate online reputational snafus, the first step to success is to aim higher.
To help you get started, I’ll offer five tips to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement:
1. Listen to your guests with a humble heart, always looking for ways to improve.
2. Collaborate with your team to find the root cause of issues, not the proximate cause.
3. Collaborate with your team on creative solutions to diminish friction points, celebrating the successful problem solving every time.
4. Implement the planned solutions and communicate them to the team.
5. Encourage the team to continue looking for problems to solve before they become bad reviews then communicate insights to upper management who greatly appreciate the feedback.
You can indeed start building a healthier reputation for your hotel brand’s future today. It’s fun and far more rewarding to reach for the stars than to spend your life settling for the ordinary, and this all starts with a fundamental shift in mindset.
Consumer trust has never been so important as it is now for hotels. No matter what you did before or what your current reputation is, today is always the perfect time to begin to build your future reputation, one guest experience at a time. Adele Gutman Milne has been honored as one of the Top 25 Outstanding Minds in Hospitality Sales & Marketing for her many award-winning achievements in reputation Marketing from HSMAI. Adele was the VP of Sales, Marketing, and Revenue at Library Hotel Collection for over two decades, where she lead the team that earned some of the top guest satisfaction ratings in the world and exemplified Tripadvisor success. Adele recently established her own consultancy focused on leadership, culture, and getting great reviews. She is a speaker, executive coach, and host of the Hospitality Reputation Marketing podcast: Get Great Guest Reviews, devoted to helping hoteliers around the world achieve their optimal reputation and revenue success.
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