In the hospitality and travel industry, a property lives and dies by their reputation. In order to boost guest loyalty, get more referrals, and continue growing your business year after year, you have to spend time proactively managing your reputation.
For some property managers, reputation management might involve working to fix a damaged reputation, and for others, it might simply mean doing what you can to improve the already-good reputation that you’ve worked hard to establish and maintain as a business over the years.
If you have a good reputation that’s great! Next week’s blog post will focus on how to maintain and improve a good reputation. But, no matter how much work you put into your business, a bad reputation can creep up slowly over a number of years, or it can happen overnight. If for whatever reasons, you’ve been struggling with reputation issues lately at your property, put yourself, your team, and your business on the road to recovery by following these 6 tips:
Tip # 1: Identify the Problem
The first step you need to take when working to repair a bad reputation is to identify the problem. You’ve already accepted the fact that you’ve damaged the perception and trust that travelers have of your property. In order to start making improvements, you have to dig deeper and try to find the root of the problem.
To identify what’s causing reputation issues for your property, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Is this a recent problem, or have I heard this feedback from people before?
- Is there a specific event or series of events that took place that has impacted our reputation?
- What do I think is the real root of the problem? Is it the way our employees communicate with guests? Does it have to do with our accommodations? The food we serve? Are we making any sort of false promises to the people who book reservations with us?
- Have I taken the time to read through online reviews about our property in order to identify similarities in the feedback that is being provided?
- Have guests talked to me or my employees about specific issues, and if so, were they resolved?
Thinking more intentionally about these questions and trying to come up with answers will help you develop a plan for addressing the issues that are ultimately affecting your reputation.
Tip # 2: Commit to Transparency
In order to repair your reputation, you need to commit to being transparent with your team, your guests, and your social media followers. People are already going online to talk about their experiences staying at your property and interacting with your employees, so as a property manager, the best thing you can do when you’re trying to fix the issues and make amends with people is to engage and participate in the discussion.
As long as there are no potential legal ramifications or confidentiality concerns associated with the issue you’re trying to address, be honest with people about it. Respond to negative reviews and tell reviewers that you’ve identified some problem areas, you’re working on fixing them, and you appreciate any support they can give. Continue giving progress updates to your followers as you work to fix the problems that negatively impacted your reputation. The more transparent you can be with people, the more likely they will be to forgive you and give you a second chance.
Tip # 3: Meet with Your Team
The third step in the process is to meet with your team and formulate a repair plan. Who you bring into the discussion will ultimately depend on what you think the issues affecting your reputation are. If it’s one employee who has been providing bad customer service to guests, for example, it’s best to keep the conversation confidential and between you and that employee. If it’s a larger issue however, it might be beneficial to meet with your entire team and talk about how to address and repair the issues affecting your ability to convert travelers into guests.
Your goal during this meeting is to come up with a specific, realistic, and time-sensitive game plan for fixing the issues that are affecting your business. By the end of the meeting, you should have clear takeaways, tasks, and deadlines for all stakeholders involved.
Tip # 4: Execute Your Plan
When you’ve got all the pieces in place, your next step is to execute the plan you designed with your team members. Remember that in order to be successful in ultimately repairing your reputation, you need to be transparent with everyone involved—your leadership team, your employees, your past and current guests, and possibly even your social media followers. To effectively execute your plan and start making progress, you need buy-in from your team, and you need to re-establish the trust you once had with your audience.
Tip # 5: Get Feedback
As you work to execute your plan, make sure to get feedback along the way to ensure that you’re actually taking the right steps. A great way to get guest feedback is through surveys. Surveys can help you learn what you are doing good and bad and receive feedback that’s not public. Once you implement surveys you will have a better idea of how guests feel about their experience, then you can start making improvements.
For example, if you had a bad reputation because of your food, hire new chefs, introduce new menus, and see what your guests think. Offer incentives and discounts to get people to come back to your property and see what’s changed.
Or, if it becomes apparent that some of your employees lack skills in the areas of communication and customer service, spend time training them, then ask your guests for feedback about specific employees. You could also invite people you know to come to stay at your property as “mystery guests” in order to see whether improvements are actually being made.
This feedback will help you understand what’s working and what still needs work in order to bring more guests through your doors again.
Tip # 6: Track & Share Progress
As you get feedback and start to experience changes at your property, make sure to track and share progress all along the way. It’s important to do this for two reasons: first, it allows you to praise those among your team who are taking the task seriously and working to improve your business. When you praise your employees, you show them that you care. When they know you care and appreciate their hard work, they are happier, more loyal, more productive, and more invested in helping you succeed. Second, it allows you to engage with your followers and past guests and build up trust with them again.
A poor reputation is not going to magically improve overnight, but it will happen in time if you stay committed to the task at hand. If you’re in a situation like this right now at your property, don’t give up! Implement the 6 tips outlined above, and if you don’t see improvements in one area that you fix, go through the process again in order to identify and fix other issues that could also be affecting your reputation and ability to get people to convert. Once you build up your reputation be sure to continue to monitor and continue steps to make your guest experience even better.
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