This article – about the impact of the social customer on a hospitality business, be it a hotel, restaurant, or bar – is spot on.
We’re basically at a place where you can’t afford to have a verbal person have a bad experience on your property.
– Randi Zuckerberg, speaking at Hospitality Industry Technology Educational Conference in Austin, TX
Delivering quality food, drinks and excellent service is more important than ever. An unhappy customer with a large online following can impact your business like never before.
Personally, I have little patience for hospitality businesses that charge top dollar, but don’t deliver top quality. It’s all about expectations. If you market yourself as the best, you’d better deliver. If you charge top tier prices, you’d better deliver top tier quality or the value equation just doesn’t work.
Here’s what I do when I’m not satisfied with any aspect of my experience:
1. Complain to a manager. Don’t mess with a server or front desk staff – talk directly with the decision maker. Tell him/her what was wrong and why.
2. Ask for some consideration. Tell the manager you want something done and then wait for them to offer you something – for instance, to credit some of the charges. If you’re not satisfied with the offer, express what you would like to see done. For instance, tell the manager you don’t think you should be paying for a non-smoking room, since the guests on the floor below you were out on their balcony smoking all night and the smoke was coming right into your room.
3. Comment on your experience in an online setting. Tell the whole story on TripAdvisor.com, Expedia or the myriad of other online rating sites. Explain the product or service experience and what you thought of it – good or bad. If you had a problem, make sure you related how satisfied you were with the response of the management.
Now, if I was an owner or senior exec in a hospitality business, here’s what I’d be doing:
1. Start listening closely to social channels. Buy some monitoring software and start paying attention to all comments in the social channels. Radian6 and Sysomos both offer enterprise level products that are worth a hard look. Cost-effective monitoring solutions are also available for small and medium-sized businesses.
2. Respond to good comments fast. They are an excellent opportunity to understand what you’re doing well and replicate it.
3. Respond to bad comments faster. Criticism is a chance to understand what you are doing wrong and fix it. In fact, the way you respond to a problem can make it worse – or considerably better. Problems are an opportunity to listen to your customers, make a change and improve your product or service offering. If you do this properly, problem resolution can lead to stronger brand loyalty and provide excellent word of mouth marketing.