Ahead of the end of the 5 per cent reduced VAT rate for the hospitality…
Liz Smith-Mills, hotel consultant, housekeeping specialist and Yorkshire and North East’s UKHA deputy chair shares her top tips.
Question: The digital revolution has changed every area of the hospitality business, as guests have more opportunities than ever to share their opinions. How have you seen social media and review websites impact housekeepers?
Images, comments and reviews about hospitality businesses can be published for the world to see on online review sites, including TripAdvisor and Expedia. These websites, and social media platforms are frequently visited by consumers when choosing where to dine or stay, and, as a result have had a significant impact on the hospitality industry and in particular in the areas of housekeeping. Positive reviews, where customers have shared great experiences have been a tremendous benefit for the hospitality industry as they help drive business to an establishment.
On the flipside, the added spotlight means that standards need to be impeccable to limit opportunity for negative feedback. Often people go online to see how previous guests have rated the Liz Smith-Mills is an Expert Advisory Council member for P&G Professional. With over 35 years’ experience in the hospitality sector, she has worked predominantly in four- and fivestar properties in all hotel departments, specialising in housekeeping, training, mystery guest inspections and assisting with new openings. cleanliness and service at the hotel. In fact, according to research by P&G Professional, 72 per cent of people said they would check ratings/reviews – specifically related to cleaning – on websites and social media when planning their next hotel visit. With 465 million people visiting TripAdvisor each day, it’s more important than ever before to maintain a ‘spotless’ reputation. With the added pressure on customer service, it is the responsibility of the housekeeping departments to show they are maintaining hygiene standards. Businesses cannot afford to ignore negative cleaning reviews. As hygiene problems are very visual, an establishment’s reputation can be damaged if left unaddressed. With 46 per cent of people saying they would share a poor hygiene experience with a friend, the impact can be widespread.
See negative reviews as improvement opportunities. Online criticism needn’t be viewed as a failure. While it’s never enjoyable to learn of poor experiences, they do present the opportunity to make things better in the future. I know some hotels that read through all online reviews and use them to develop and refine their training programmes. They also have dedicated people responsible for managing and responding to the guests in a timely manner.
Be transparent with your guests. Responding to reviews, both negative and positive, can be an opportunity for businesses to share best practices. If people are impressed with the fluffy towels or sparkling glasses, businesses can share steps taken to provide those; the thorough cleaning processes, or even the cleaning products used. Likewise, if there is a negative review, you can respond by sharing how the business has addressed the issue. This demonstrates commitment to delivering a positive experience for guests, and continual improvement.
Develop that ‘spotless reputation.’ As the number of platforms for review expand, so does the potential audience. Companies must take proactive measures to create the best environments and experiences for all potential guests. Future technology such as sentiment analysis and the merging of feedback from various sites onto a single dashboard, will be used to gain an understanding of the attitudes, opinions and emotions expressed within an online mention.
A recent study revealed that 91 per cent of guests believe that cleanliness is an indicator of a good hospitality business. Additionally, 62 per cent of people would request a new room if it was not properly cleaned, and cause them to reconsider staying at the establishment in the future. Having the correct staffing levels, training, equipment and quality cleaning products in place such as the Flash Professional System, from P&G Professional will ensure that high standards of cleanliness can be maintained throughout.
While online reviews have added extra scrutiny onto the role of housekeeping in hotels, they have provided the opportunity to demonstrate the value of clean. A guest’s experience can be made or broken by the standard of cleaning. Providing quality customer experience goes far beyond a single guest stay, it can impact repeat and future business, highlighting the importance of housekeeping and recognition of their efforts to ensure the business maintains a ‘spotless reputation’.
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