Finding a Cure for the Summertime TripAdvisor Blues

If you have 60 seconds, I have 300 words that might help at the NOI line.

If you pay close attention the ebb-and-flow of rankings on TripAdvisor and other guest commentary sites, you may have noticed a phenomenon I like to call “summertime TripAdvisor blues.”

In addition to my role at Travel Outlook, I own a management company which manages the Old Santa Fe Inn, a boutique property near the historic Santa Fe Plaza. For the past fifteen years, our team has worked hard to keep Old Santa Fe Inn ranked in the top five in Santa Fe hotels in TripAdvisor. Like us, you may have noticed that in season – when rates are higher – overall TripAdvisor guest scores trend lower.

According to Dr. Jonathan Barsky of Market Metrix, “Rates always have an impact on customer satisfaction, and with strong RevPAR growth we have seen slipping satisfaction scores in North America and Europe.” Global customer satisfaction with hospitality experiences continued to decline during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new data released by Market Metrix. Customer satisfaction scores declined in the Americas, and scores also declined in Europe. Strengthening occupancy and higher prices during this period appear to be the likely reasons.

Can anything be done about this? We have found that a partial solution starts by understanding clearly that guests paying higher rates will be more demanding, and making sure that our front-line team understands this. Providing enhanced services and add-ons during the high rate periods are a must, as well as maintaining a very close track of guest requests and comments. A burned-out bulb might not be mentioned in an off season review, but in season that bulb might be the difference between a four star and a five star rating. Human nature: paying more, guests expect more.

Also, don’t forget to pass this message along to your Central Reservations Office, emphasizing how critical is it for everyone working for the property to recognize how this tendency will impact hotel ratings. During higher-rate periods, making sure that the reservations and front desk teams communicate clearly about any guest comments or complaints will pay handsome dividends.

About John Smallwood

John Smallwood is President and Chief Executive Officer of Travel Outlook. He oversees day-to-day activities of a growing company dedicated to helping independent hotels and hospitality businesses increase top line revenues and provide better communication with its guests. He created the Travel Outlook concept in 2006, after more than twenty years’ experience in hospitality management. He has owned, managed, or developed a dozen hotel properties.

Contact: John Smallwood

jsmallwood@traveloutlook.com / 505-407-4075

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