There are many reasons as to why hotels hope to avoid negative reviews. One negative review can undo the hard work of a hotel’s team and overshadow positive feedback. Plus, negative reviews can be seen by thousands or even millions of potential customers if they go viral or have prominent placement on a review site. These words can have a long-term impact on a property’s success.
The Ripple Effect of Negative Reviews
What is the impact of a negative hotel review? Less-than-stellar reviews can center on many different topics and cause numerous headaches for hotel managers. While every complaint presents a problem, those around cleanliness can be especially detrimental. This is even more true in the wake of the pandemic, as the global health crisis turned everyone’s attention to the tie between cleanliness and public health. Visibly dirty surfaces are a concern, but so are those that might be harboring lingering pathogens unseen by the naked eye.
A 2020 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Whittaker among 2,012 U.S. adults found that a majority of Americans (93%) say dirty carpet with things like stains, animal hair or food residue in a facility would negatively impact their perception of that organization. The hospitality industry is most impacted by a lack of cleanliness. The research found that dirty carpet in a hotel would negatively impact 80% of Americans’ perceptions of the business, more than any other type of facility.
Upon seeing dirty carpet, more than half of Americans (58%) would assume the facility is not clean and 56% would look for an alternative facility. Nearly one in four (24%) would write a negative online review about the facility.
While the majority (91%) of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it is also important to remember that negative reviews aren’t always published via newspapers, magazines, or blogs and social media platforms. Sometimes, a guests’ poor experience is retold through casual conversations with family, friends, and colleagues.
The same Harris Poll from Whittaker found that 47% of Americans would tell people in their social circle about the lack of cleanliness in the facility. Not only might those hearing about the dirty carpet rethink booking a future stay at the property or with any of a brand’s hotels, but they may also share their friend’s experience with others as a warning.
How to Avoid and Manage Negative Hotel Reviews
Hotels understand that one guest’s less-than-perfect experience can spread like wildfire in today’s increasingly digital world. Consider the following recommendations for limiting the occurrence of negative reviews and dealing with those that do occur.
- Prioritize cleanliness – Because cleanliness has such an impact on the overall guest experience, it is important to analyze how your approach either sets your property up for success or failure. Look at the chemicals, equipment, and tools that you have on hand, as well as your schedule and training process to identify potential risks or lapses.
Make cleaning as easy as possible, such as through the use of lightweight, ergonomic carpet care systems that are easy to use on a regular basis and chemical dispensers that dilute solutions to the proper concentration.
- Set property-wide goals – Properties pride themselves on cleaning around the clock to ensure that the look of the hotel matches guest expectations. To encourage your team to follow cleaning protocols, set specific goals that everyone can work towards. Perhaps it is related to the number of positive reviews per quarter or total revenue.
- Respond to reviews – A survey from TripAdvisor revealed that when a hotel owner leaves personalized responses to reviews, 77% of travelers are more likely to book with the property. Additionally, a survey from search marketing firm BrightLocal found that 87% of customers won’t do business with a company that has less than a 3-star rating.
Set aside time each day or week for hotel managers to review and respond to positive, neutral, and negative reviews to showcase to guests that their feedback matters. Reading these reviews can also illuminate recurring patterns and specific areas for improvement that might not be obvious.
Cleanliness is Key to the Hospitality Industry’s Rebound
The hospitality industry is built on image, so the importance of hotel reviews is clear. What guests see or do not see influences their overall experience during their stay. Cleanliness goes a long way in supporting guest satisfaction and securing five-star reviews. From the bed linens to the bathroom towels and counters to the carpet in the lobby and the rooms, hotels need to always look their best.
This year, the hospitality industry focused on attracting guests during the coronavirus pandemic. As more travelers get comfortable with the idea of staying away from home again, the responsibility falls on hotels to uphold their cleanliness promises. Cleanliness gives guests peace of mind, and helps hotels win repeat bookings when they need them most.