There is an interesting comment thread on The New Zealand tourism Industry Blog at present about the attachment of Trip Advisor to Tourism New Zealand’s web site. Here is a link to the discussion.
It is obvious from the comments in this topic that there are many differing opinions on the benefits and disadvantages of Trip Advisor. The reality however is that this type of advertising is here and isn’t going to simply go away. It is in a way no different to the old traditional word of mouth advertising but is able to reach far more people far quicker.
One benefit I see is that at least service providers know what is being said about them and can reply or take appropriate action to fix a problem if necessary rather than being completely oblivious to the old word of mouth be it good or bad stories being told about them.
It is important for any service provider to be confident in their product and their pricing structure so that when a customer threatens a bad review in return for something free the operator can refuse. It is only by these people being refused they will realise that the practice won’t work and then it may cease. It is the same as people who seek a discount on a quoted price. If there weren’t any operators who gave a discount then people would stop asking for one.
Confidence in your product, pricing structure and service will alleviate most customer problems.
March 20 2012 | Articles for current moteliers and Changes in Motel Trends | 1 Comment »
Online reviews require dedication and time but can really build your business. It is now believed that there is a need to allocate someone to managing reviews and then making the whole process a team effort.
The reviews can also be used as feedback to staff for either re-enforcing the things which are being done well or pointing out areas where there is room for improvement. Reviews must be monitored, acted on and responded to. By doing this in a team environment the whole business embraces the culture of reviews and using them to benefit the motel business.
Trip advisor has also just launched its new management centre which has tools to help with the review area of your business. This gives accommodation providers “more functionality and new educational content, such as a library of videos, resources for training new staff, tip sheets, in-depth how-to guides and a blog with updated sources of information. It is intended to work in tandem with third-party reputation management software that aggregates feedback from additional sources.”
Online reviews are an important part of your business these days and cannot be ignored. Like any trend or development within the area of motel management you need to understand it and use it to your advantage.
For more details have a look at this post by “hotel news now” http://bit.ly/qBEiLo .
September 21 2011 | Articles for current moteliers and Changes in Motel Trends and Entering the Motel Industry | No Comments »
You may think I hope not to the above question but in fact it is a positive for a business to have an SOP. This is an acronym for Standard Operating Procedure and is really a necessity for a business to ensure things are consistent and your customers always receive the experience you want them to have.
For instance one of your cleaners may leave 4 coffee sachets in a room and another may leave 6. If you have a client who is a heavy coffee drinker and drinks five coffees during their stay, they will sometimes have enough to last the night but when the 4 coffee cleaner prepares their room they will get frustrated and annoyed at missing out on a cup of coffee. You may say well they can always come and ask for another one, but that is a nuisance that the customer may not want to have and it may be the catalyst for them looking for alternative accommodation.
The SOP will ensure that all tasks are completed to a consistent standard in a safe and economic manner. This means happier customers, less accidents and more efficiency within the business making it stronger and flowing down to a healthier profit.
So how do you prepare an SOP. First you must analyze the task you are writing the SOP for.
1) Choose the task
2) Perform the task and document each step
3) Identify the critical elements which must be done a specific way. Eg: 6 coffee sachets.
4) Identify any hazards
5) Isolate or eliminate the hazards by documenting the correct procedure and materials (eg: chemicals and dilution rates) for the task and any safety equipment or clothing which must be worn.
6) Set out the steps within the SOP and the order in which things must be done.
Next it is important that everyone is aware of and follows the SOP for these tasks. When you employ new staff they should be given a job description and the SOP for the tasks you are expecting them to perform. This clarifies things for both parties. It is not just the staff however who should adhere to the SOP, the business owner must also perform the tasks in the same way. If you do things differently why is this? Does the SOP need to be changed?
When you look at your business it is often too big a task to work on things like an SOP. Where do you start? There are just so many things that happen. When things are very big and daunting however you just have to remember this saying. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” It would be too hard to sit down and write SOPs for your whole business but one winter afternoon when it is quiet (looks like we are heading for some of these soon) just sit in front of your computer and pick one thing and document an SOP for it. It can be anything from checking a guest in to cleaning the pool to cleaning a bathroom to taking a booking.
Keep this process up and eventually you will have enough SOPs that you will have created an operating manual for your motel. This will add to the value of your business, make it clearer for staff, managers and minders and will help when it is time to sell your motel. It is completing a number of small tasks that eventuate in completing a major one. Just like eating an elephant one bite at a time.
May 11 2011 | Articles for current moteliers and Changes in Motel Trends and Entering the Motel Industry | No Comments »
One of the newer additions to social media is Foursquare. This basic concept is that people check in when they are visiting places such as cafes shops etc and the person who visits the one place the most becomes the mayor of that place. To learn more look at this website http://foursquare.com/businesses/
Some businesses are using this concept to their advantage by creating added value for people who use the foursquare concept. This builds your current customers in to more loyal customers and can also attract new customers.
One icecream shop gave the mayor for each day a free icecream and increased their business substantially. If there is a choice between shops and you may get something extra from one place then it is most likely you will choose that place.
Another example is a hotel who offer a bar discount to their patrons who check in on four square http://www.hotelworldnetwork.com/customer-loyalty-programs/aloft-introduces-social-networking-rewards-9746
All these things create loyalty with customers and increase your exposure on the web. What can you do with this type of advertising media to improve your business?
December 13 2010 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
At all times but especially in these tough economic times it is common for moteliers to be reviewing their business and looking at ways they can increase their profit. This is an integral part of operating your own business be it a motel or any other type of business. The ideas and solutions which you arrive at must however be analysed properly to ensure they are in fact a benefit and not a detriment to your business.
What is your core product? This is the backbone of your business and will be the bread and butter profit for you. Many will say well all motels have the same core product. They all have rooms with a bed and bathroom. It is true that all motels have rooms with a bed and bathroom but all of these rooms are not the same. Some are luxury rooms with expensive fittings and unique bathroom accessories, some are rooms of a modern design with standard fittings and some are older rooms with older style fittings and chattels. These are all motel rooms but each offers a different core product to their customer.
Find your identity from your core product and build on this. What are you good at and what are you not good at? If you have a luxury style complex you will not be good at servicing the needs of the budget conscious client. An older style mid range complex will not be good at servicing the needs of a client looking for luxury. What is it that you are best at? Establish your core product find your identity and build on this.
When you are looking at expanding your business you must look at the ideas in relation to your core product. You cannot be all things to all people! When analyzing a new idea put yourself in your clients shoes; is it something they would want. Would a luxury client want a frozen meal to zap in the microwave or would an anti-pasta platter be more appropriate? What can you add to your product that your current customers would want to pay extra for? It is a far more economical way of making profit by taking more revenue from your current clients than by spending marketing dollars to try and attract new clients.
When you implement a new idea it is like any other aspect of your business you must be able to monitor and measure the effect of it. If you have a new product on offer then you must set a time frame (say monthly) to measure how many customers have taken up this product and how much profit was made from it after all costs were taken out. Ask your clients for feedback. Was the product beneficial, would they use it again, how could it be improved? Then it is vital to act on the information and measurements you have gathered. If you have given a product sufficient time to develop and it is not making profit or being used then you must put it in the tried but didn’t work basket and move to the next idea. Business is a perpetual cycle of evaluation and ideas.
Most importantly be good at what you are, “Stick to your knitting” and grow your business from this to be the best of its own particular kind.
August 30 2010 | Articles for current moteliers and Entering the Motel Industry and Uncategorized | No Comments »
Here is an interesting article from the Motella Blog. http://motella.blogspot.com Maybe not the kind of service you need to follow!!! I wonder how it would reflect in the ratings for this motel on trip advisor?
Monday, May 10, 2010
Motel “Complimentary Hot Breakfast”
For those motels that are looking for new marketing ideas, we see that Spoof Times have reported on an innovative way for motels to offer a “Complimentary Hot Breakfast.”
Former guests of the Budget Inn and Travel Center of Wichita, Kansas are suing the hotel for failing to follow through on their advertisement of a “Complimentary Hot Breakfast” for their guests. “It was the main reason that we decided to stay there on our cross country trip,” said Wayne Garth of Denver, Colorado.
When asked how the motel breakfast did not meet their expectations, Mr. Garth said “Complimentary means free, right? At least, that’s what I always thought it meant. My credit card was charged for five $9 meals after we left. There is nothing complimentary about that!”
“Now, let’s look at the word hot. They had powdered donuts and bowls of Fruit Loops or Cornflakes. That doesn’t look very hot to me!”
Rahad Patel, owner of the motel, offered the following explanation: “When you enter our breakfast area, my daughter is standing there, thanking you for coming in. She tells people that they look nice, that she likes their clothing, or that they have cute kids. She is very complimentary to all of the guests.”
“My daughter is also dressed in a string bikini while she does this. Even though I am her father, I must say that she is pretty hot. She is also a straight “A” student and is going to be a doctor.”
“Breakfast was served by a very attractive girl saying nice things to people. That qualifies as Complimentary and Hot, doesn’t it?”
May 10 2010 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
There is a growing phenomenon of websites that publish feedback from gusts that stay at commercial accommodation, including motels. Web-cred is of increasing importance as a motel’s consumer rating is being formulated and exposed to the world by guest reviews. Past guests are more than happy to share accommodation experiences and future potential guests are using these reviews to determine their accommodation choice.
The importance of your motel’s on-line consumer “rating” will soon outstrip rating systems such as Qualmark. The Internet not only is making the traditional “Agent” redundant, but will soon be threatening traditional quality assurance programmes. In the very near future, it is conceivable that a motel’s “star rating” will be solely determined by on-line reviews. This is daunting territory for many motel owners as the reviewers’ data is raw, live and very pointed… who can argue with the adage that the customer / market is always correct!
It will become increasingly important for moteliers to monitor the Internet chatter on social media sites and networks surrounding their motels.
How can you monitor on-line guest feedback and comments? The answer is simple, easy to set up and FREE! Google Alerts provide email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query or topic. Your motel name (and variants of) should be entered into your Google Alerts. Google is the most comprehensive search engine that now indexes the whole blogosphere and consumer-generated sites.
It’s common knowledge that the Internet has changed how travel consumers perceive the credibility of information. Any discrepancy between “official” and “unofficial” content should be dealt with immediately. A motel has to stand by its product and service, but cannot ignore the “popular vote” for its product’s quality.
Research has shown that consumer-generated content on social media sites and networks is perceived as more credible by online travelers. The bigger the disparity between official and unofficial content, the bigger the gap in credibility.
Social Media (Consumer-Generated Media) is online content created by Internet users and made available to other Internet users via Web 2.0 interactive technology applications. Motel/hotel review sites such as TripAdvisor.com are part of the Social Media phenomenon.
- 38% of US Internet users (72 million) use a social media site at least once a month
- 89% of US Online Buyers read customer reviews before they buy – 43% most of the time, 22% always.
So what are the most important motel / hotel-related customer review sites? There are only a handful that the majority of travel reviewers’ visit:
- TripAdvisor.com: TripAdvisor receives over 30 million visitors every month. The hotel can actively respond to any customer review via the ‘Hotel Owner’s Page’ by using the link located at the bottom of the page with customer reviews and then clicking on the ‘Respond to a Review’ link.
- Expedia.com: Expedia is the largest online travel agency (OTA). Currently the hotel can monitor all of Expedia’s customer reviews, but cannot actually respond to a review.
- Google.com: Google is the largest search engine with 60% of search traffic in the United States, and more than 75%-80% of traffic in Europe. Google provides a sampling of reviews for each hotel from TripAdvisor and other review sites (type in the hotel name + location, and then click on Reviews under the hotel listing). You can then visit each of the review sites and respond to an actual review there if allowed.
- Travel Bug: NZ’s own travel site has yet to generate sales that live up to the hype of its successful big brother, TradeMe. Guest reviews are a relatively new addition.
Action Plan for Monitoring Internet Chatter about Your Motel
It is important to respond to reviews and comments as you are made aware of them, so you can immediately address any issues and act appropriately (both negative and positive).
Here are some quick tips for responding to customer reviews:
- Thank the customer for taking the time to write a review
- Apologize profusely if the customer is right on target with their negative review
- Provide a simple, short explanation of what really happened (if such an explanation is possible)
- Assure the reviewer and motel guests in general that every possible step has been taken to address the problem or service in question
- Offer a direct line of communication between you and the reviewer (via email, direct phone line, etc.) in order to rectify the situation
- To conclude the response, use any elements of the customer’s comments that are constructive (e.g. great location, comfortable rooms, etc) to put a positive spin on a negative review.
Moteliers need to work hard to nurture happy customers and avoid negative postings. They must monitor reviews on review sites, TripAdvisor in particular, and react immediately if an extremely positive or negative review is posted.
Use Google Alerts to monitor all online chatter about your motel.
It’s much better to react to these postings and show your current and potential customers that you are 100% committed to serving them by addressing any and all problems, rather than ignoring complaints. You may be under the impression that responding to a negative review is a wasted effort because this customer will probably never return. However, your response should be primarily focused on assuring the traveling public that the issue is being addressed and the motel is dedicated to customer service.
Your response will also speak to future potential customers who might stumble on this review and the motel ‘s response.
August 28 2008 | Articles for current moteliers and Changes in Motel Trends | 14 Comments »