According to the TripAdvisor TripBarometer Travel Trends 2016, 93% of hoteliers consider improving their online traveler reviews as the number one factor of importance to the future of their business. 59% plan to invest more in online reputation management. This is undoubtedly surprising to no one, given today’s increasingly connected online environment. However, continued staff training to exceed expectations is ranked 8 out of the top 10 most important factors to the future of their business, less than half plan to invest more in staff training, and only a third plan to invest more in back office.
While online reviews are of course extremely important to hotels, given that 73% of global travelers use TripAdvisor to influence their travel plans, are hoteliers' priorities misdirected? Studies indicate that behaviors which negatively influence the customer, including sulkiness and inability to meet demands or respond to questions, are caused by factors like stress, workload, and feeling uncomfortable with one’s position. A popular study completed by Hartline and Ferrell (1996) found even then that “employee self-efficacy and job satisfaction increase customers’ perceived service quality.” In other words, should hoteliers be concentrating on improving their online reviews, or the factors that will improve client satisfaction, ultimately leading to better online reviews?
Given how difficult it is to turn a guest into a promoter- and how easy it is for them to become a detractor- it’s essential for the hotel to give a guest a remarkable experience, one worth sharing with others. If expectations are not exceeded, the guest will not be inspired to write an online review, or if they do it will be lackluster. The single best way to get better online reviews is to ensure that the hotel staff is prepared and equipped to give the guest that remarkable experience. This should be the modern hotelier’s focus just as much as online reputation management.
Good organization, attention to training and performance both in individual and group settings, and a positive work environment throughout the hotel will not only better prepare hotel staff to deal with the problems that arise, but will improve overall attitudes towards their jobs and, consequently, towards guests. Hoteliers'priorities should reflect these goals, if only for this simple reason: Investing in employees translates directly into investing in guests, which results in better reviews and a better online reputation.