Who would you rather have stay in your hotel? A guest who complains constantly or a guest who stays silent, choosing to vent their thoughts on social media and review sites like TripAdvisor? Pre-emptively collecting and dealing with feedback or criticism can go some way to changing opinions; turning disgruntled guests into brand advocates and protecting your online reputation.
But how do you get your guests to open up and share their feedback with you? A recent study of nearly 2,000 US consumers, by the folks at Software Advice (a hotel management research firm), offers some help;
When should you ask guests for feedback?
The study highlighted that most of those surveyed would give feedback at check-out or within a few days of the end of their stay. A fair assumption, it also suggests that the longer the time period, post-stay, the less likely it is that someone will provide feedback.
In a nutshell, if feedback is valuable to you, don’t leave it too long to ask for it. Ensure your front of house team are asking the right questions and reading the situations, and your guests, correctly. A businessmen rushing to catch a flight isn’t going to want to spend time completing a questionnaire, so give him a card with a link to complete the survey later. Families with screaming kids won’t be motivated to spend time filling in forms, so give the kids the chance to be involved too with their own ‘fun feedback forms’. Provide crayons.
Who is most likely to give you feedback?
In a similar pattern to the gender bias that often exists within the booking of hotels; women are more likely to provide feedback on their stay than men. A significant 59% of women suggested they’d provide feedback within a week compared to just 41% of men. If you have the option, consider splitting your database by gender and prioritising obtaining feedback from your female visitors first. However, don’t ignore the male traveller as ultimately, the collective feedback of all guests is the most valuable for the majority of hotels.
How should you try and obtain guest feedback?
The most preferred method, at 41% of those surveyed, was to obtain feedback by Online Survey, sent via email. Interestingly, 32% suggested a Paper Survey is still their preferred method of providing feedback. Whilst this may be habitual, it represents a logistical headache for marketing teams tasked with analysing large volumes of paper surveys.
Get around this by considering the addition of a QR code to your paper survey to encourage online completion, or a shortened URL (bit.ly etc) so that it’s easy for your guests to type-in. Consider what questions you’re asking in your feedback forms and keep it short and simple. If you’re not going to follow up on the data received, don’t bother collecting it. Multiple choice questions are easier for your guests to complete and crucially, easier to input for those tasked with collating the feedback digitally.
Consider how guests could feedback at the point of check-out. Whilst the study suggests they may not be your guests favoured feedback method, a tablet with a simple set of questions could attract better engagement than a lengthy post-stay survey.
The full study continues by analysing what incentives you can use to encourage guest feedback, although care should be given to ensure unbiased feedback is received (if they’re getting something for free, they may feel more obliged to leave a positive review). It also looks at whether the satisfaction level of a guest impacts on their likelihood to leave feedback. Unsurprisingly, the most satisfied and least satisfied guests are more inclined to give feedback. Getting the feedback from those who aren’t at the upper/lower ends of the spectrum is especially important as their opinions may well be more reflective of the ‘norm’.
Of course, feedback isn’t all about negativity. Finding out why your guests enjoyed their stay is equally valuable as it helps focus your marketing activity on the aspects of your product that are especially attractive to your guests.
What this study does show is that one of the key elements is recency. Recency of feedback affects accuracy, which in turn means more valuable feedback for your business. Following up with your guests to find out what they thought should be a seamless part of the standard post-stay experience.
For more on the study, please visit the Software Advice website.