Last week, I was invited to join TripAdvisor on a panel debate at the HSMAI conference in London. As this was my first invite to participate at such a conference I did approach it with slight trepidation and wondered what angle my other debating colleagues would take. I also wondered, if I was invited by TripAdvisor, did I, therefore, have to support their review site or was I added to the panel to stir up the hornets nest?
The timing of the debate couldn’t have actually been better as three days prior it was reported by The Independent that the government was considering removing its funding and support of the traditional star-rating system and replacing it with ratings from review websites such as TripAdvisor. So I had my angle, I knew what direct revenue we had generated from TripAdvisor and I went armed with the improving scores that we had seen on TripAdvisor since our General Managers had been encouraged to respond to and monitor their own hotel position on the site. Easy!
And the result of the debate? I decided to sit on the fence but my government story did cause a stir in the room. It’s true that TripAdvisor isn’t going to go away and whilst incorrect, defamatory or exaggerated reviews can damage a hotel’s reputation, as long as you have trained and mentored your team to respond professionally, accurately and with emotion, that can do a lot to repair a potentially damaging review. Obviously, at QHotels we want to try and avoid any bad reviews and deal with any complicated situations before the guest leaves the hotel but that’s not always possible, so we now actively encourage guests to leave reviews through our post-stay follow-up e-mail. Furthermore, TripAdvisor monthly scores are part of each hotels’ monthly reporting so that we make sure the focus is always maintained.
So, if the government do remove their support and websites such as TripAdvisor determine the star ratings of the future, we want to make sure that we’re all five-star!
Read the overview of my panel experience here.
Director of Marketing Services