Why First Impressions During COVID-19 Can Last a Lifetime for Your Hotel
The effects of the coronavirus have travelers on their toes, more critical than ever before of their options prior to booking. Reputation management has never been more important, and hoteliers must ask themselves what guests are really looking at when they decide to stay at a hotel. Many believe that travelers simply want to know the overall rating of the hotel, or a history of reviews over long stretches of time. However, that is not necessarily the case, especially now that guests will be more discerning when picking a clean, safe place to stay. Guests care about what has been going on at your hotel recently, but how can that be measured? Our newly unveiled 1st Impression Score™ helps to put that question into perspective with real, actionable answers.
Our score is based around four things: recent reviews, responded reviews, amount of reviews, and the lifetime score. These are four areas that will be impacted by COVID-19 in different ways, and they all ultimately affect a traveler’s opinion on whether or not your hotel is safe.
Generating new reviews for your hotel is important now because potential guests want to know how your property is handling the pandemic. Have recent visitors noticed any policy changes? How clean is your hotel? These questions can be put to rest depending on what kind of answers a traveler finds within the reviews of your hotel. If they can only find reviews about your hotel from a year ago, they may be more hesitant or not book a stay with you at all. Beyond that, new reviews are what any traveler will see first when looking at information about your property. The more recent they are, the more timely it is for your audience, making your reputation more trustworthy in the moment.
Simply gaining new reviews isn’t the only component influencing your 1st Impression Score™ – the responses to those reviews are valuable, as well. Leaving reviews without responses shows potential travelers that management may be ignoring feedback, both good and bad. This affects the snap judgment they’re making about your property, which makes review response a critical component for you to manage. Responding quickly and professionally to feedback both assures the guest that you’re listening and that you’re making efforts for improvement if needed. This can also be an opportunity for you to update the reviewer and potential future travelers about precautions you’ve taken for COVID-19. It’s vital to understand the three critical topics guest reviews may cover, and advice for how to best respond. Keeping your composure will help you take your feedback in stride, tucking away useful information to make improvements that will further influence your reputation in a positive way.
Measuring review flow comes from a mix of both frequency and recency in reviews. Again, this is where your recent reviews are important, because the newer the review, the more likely your potential travelers are to trust their experience will be similar. With the prevalence of the coronavirus, your future guests will be keeping a keen eye on all recent reviews, hoping for some sort of outside confirmation that what your property has been posting is a current, accurate reflection of the situation. If there are no recent reviews about your property, prospective guests will have unanswered questions, such as: Is the hotel open? Is there a reason why other travelers aren’t leaving reviews? What can I really expect from this hotel? Traveler perceptions about your hotel will be informed by what they see in recent reviews and your responses. This isn’t determined only by one site, either: your review flow factors in any review site you’re receiving feedback on, so providing timely and professional responses is imperative across the board.
While not the most important deciding factor in booking, your hotel’s lifetime score is still an element of the 1st Impression Score™ for your property. This is because travelers still use it in the early stages of lodging research as a means to measure what their experience may be like at your hotel. While this is also an easy score to obtain, the downside is that it’s difficult to see the result of improvements at your hotel over a short period of time. Changes to your lifetime score may not be reflected for at least a year, which is why travelers tend not to allow it to sway their decision to book. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that anything you do now will be reflected in your lifetime score down the road. Consistency in reputation management is key to long-term score improvement. That’s why it’s imperative now to analyze the data behind your 1st Impression Score™ – keeping up with it will show you what’s working in the moment so you can keep improving over a lifetime.
Managing your reputation in the moment can help you build an actionable plan to improve your property efficiently. If you’re able to navigate the data around your hotel’s reputation, you’re even better equipped to grow during this crisis and re-emerge even stronger. If you’re interested in checking out your 1st Impression Score™, head over to our dedicated page and sign up for more information.