EP #27 – Effectively Using Online Feedback and Reviews, with Daniel Craig

Daniel Edward Craig of Reknown joins Susan Pannozzo on this episode of Hospitality Academy to talk about online reviews, digital marketing and effectively using guest feedback with hospitality and travel industry staff.Thanks to social media, reviews are available to anyone almost anywhere at the touch of a button. But many hoteliers and management staff in the travel industry don’t know how to handle both negative and positive online guest feedback.

Our guest today, Daniel Craig, has the answers!

Daniel spent most of his career in the hotel industry until he left his role as general manager to found Reknown. Reknown is a digital marketing and online reputation management consultancy for the travel industry.

On this episode of Hospitality Academy, he joins us to share how and why he founded his company, how to handle sharing negative and positive feedback as well as the four main steps to managing your online reputation.


Essential Learning Points From This Episode:

  • How guests are like private investigators.
  • What are the best ways to gather online guest feedback?
  • How often and when should you share feedback?
  • Why the guest is and isn’t always right.
  • The most important voice at staff meetings, and why it is absent so often.
  • And so much more!

Like so many others, Daniel’s hospitality career began as a front desk clerk. He worked his way up ultimately into management roles in Sales & Marketing before becoming a general manager.

During his time as a GM, someone left a review on TripAdvisor recommending he be fired! Fortunately, the owner of the hotel didn’t follow through on the reviewer’s advice, but it showed Daniel that social media was going to have a huge impact on the hotel and travel industry.

Not long after he left his GM position to pursue his second career of being a writer of mystery novels that are set in hotels. As a mystery writer, he was struck by how travelers have become like private investigators. They arrive at hotels, scrutinize everything, take photos and videos and interview witnesses (other guests) and then post their findings online.

It’s great when the guests/PIs are singing the hotel’s praises but not so great when they post bad reviews. In fact, those negative reviews leave many hoteliers feeling exposed by social media and helpless regarding online reviews.

Daniel explains on this episode that hoteliers, GMs, and owners have more control and influence than they might think. With his company Reknown, he helps hoteliers and travel industry take control of their online reputation and he has been doing so for 7 years.

In that time, he’s learned there are four main steps to effectively managing your online reputation.

1. Monitor reviews and social media commentary.
The first is to regularly and consistently monitor reviews and comments left on social media. You can do this by setting up tools and procedures to notify you to know when a guest posts a review, a photo or comment online. At a minimum set up alerts and notifications online at Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and other popular social networking sites.

If you receive a lot of reviews there are paid options like ReviewPro and Revinate. These paid options help automate the process of collecting reviews, scoring reviews and analyzing reviews as well as comparing your performance to your competitors.

2. Share feedback with staff.
The second step is to share feedback with the staff. It’s normal to feel daunted by online reviews but don’t let that stop you from sharing feedback! And sometimes the feedback is fair, and sometimes it’s not fair.

Hotel managers need to face reviews head on and show leadership by welcoming all types of feedback and using it as a constructive learning tool to guide improvements. But do so without obsessing too much over the negative feedback!

Be sure to pay attention to the positive too. [ctt template=”3″ link=”LXZjs” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Hotel staff needs lots of encouragement to keep smiling[/ctt]. There’s nothing more rewarding for the staff then receiving rave comments from guests! It’s important that managers acknowledge positive reviews, recognize and reward staff for their achievements. Those rewards can be a monthly prize drawing or points that can be cashed in for meals, hotel comp stays, or even cash prizes.

3. Take action to fix problems.
Take action to fix problems cited in reviews. Guests’ opinions can vary widely so don’t make major changes based on one guest. Instead, look for patterns, decide when to take action and when to listen/learn and carry onward.

Managers should use guest feedback to guide decisions on where to invest employee training, capital upgrades, technology, improvements to services and amenities.

4. Posting responses.
Many in hotel management struggle with how to respond but there are three important components:

1. Thank them.
2. Apologize if something went wrong.
3. Say how you are following up.

Be brief, friendly and open. Remember when you are addressing that one reviewer you are also speaking to all travelers reading reviews and deciding where to stay.

Also on today’s show, Daniel explains how to handle sharing negative feedback with staff, how often it should be shared and why transparency is so key to success. Listen in for all of that and more on episode 27 of Hospitality Academy!

Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

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