Reputation is the backbone of a hotel’s success in the market. Even the most minute mark on a hotel’s reputation can brew up storms of trouble for the establishment. And because the very nature of a hotel’s operations is to deal directly with guests who stay overnight, your hotel’s reputation treads on sensitive ground at all times.The facilities and amenities form only one part of the experience that your hotel offers. The most important factor is the human touch – something that is much more important in the hotel industry than in any other. This is exactly why the hotel industry comes under the broader stream known as the “Hospitality” industry – you have to be hospitable.Between check-in and check-out, there are multiple points when the hotel is directly in contact with the guests. These are very sensitive points - moments that can have heavy implications for your hotel’s reputation. These contact points include the front-desk, room-service, restaurant and so on. However, these contact points don’t have to be feared - instead, they can serve as fertile land to sow the seeds of reputation.That said, it must still be understood that despite the best efforts of the hotel staff, issues can still appear unexpectedly. Your hotel staff can help build your hotel’s reputation at the aforementioned contact points, areas where issues can be anticipated and dealt with. But what does a hotel do in situations that are unexpected and have a high potential to ruin the hotel altogether? To manage these, you need a reputation management strategy.
A reputation management strategy need not be complicated!
Many think that reputation management needs the presence of a highly sophisticated team of experts who are constantly hounding issues to deal with. This is just one aspect of what your ‘strategy’ should comprise of. Your strategy should be a very broad concept that must include every last person in your hotel, no matter what his/her designation or department!To illustrate this, let’s take the example of the strategy used by a popular hotel brand. The hotel reshuffled its operations, making the culture more customer-centric than ever before. Under this new model, members of every department, be it from the front office, or from human resources or even accounts, had to be responsible for catering to the guests’ needs. This meant that managers and executives from even back-office operations could not deny guests any service simply because their roles were different.One day, a guest’s car was robbed at night. Rather than stand aside without getting involved, members from every department made it their responsibility to come to the guest's assistance. As a result, a situation that could have blown out of proportion was quickly averted. In fact, the guest turned into one of the hotel’s most loyal guests!A simple thing like this is reputation management. Technical elements are needed of course, but the contribution of a professional alone, without the entire hotel making it their responsibility will bear little fruit. Moreover, the management must realize that in times of crisis, it is not just the reputation manager’s duty to handle the situation, but the responsibility of everyone.
Now to why you need a reputation management strategy
- Crisis is an unannounced guest!Damage to reputation, as mentioned earlier, comes from unexpected situations. A well-formed strategy acts as a buffer against such issues.
- Crisis will definitely comeNo matter how confident you are about the way in which your hotel is running, a crisis will definitely arise at some point or another. And because it almost always comes unexpectedly, it is better that you have a strong management strategy to deal with it.
- Things will blow out of proportionThe biggest thing to worry about is the media. The media can preset facts in a way that can give a completely exaggerated, or even different picture of things to the public. This is the where the role of expert reputation managers come in. Even as you deal with the parties directly involved, you need to pay close attention to how the media is reporting the matter.
- In hospitality, it is all about reputationAs we have already seen, reputation is the backbone of success in this industry. The last thing you want is the name of your hotel getting associated with something negative. The name United Airlines is one such example.
Considering how vital it is for a hotel to maintain a good reputation in the market, it is in the best interest of your business to come up with a good reputation management strategy with the help of experts in the field.