The hotel industry has continually grown over the past five years. In 2017, U.S. hotel revenue in reached $208 billion dollars with an occupancy rate at 65.9%, the highest seen since 2001. That’s exciting news for hotels – but hotel guests today are coming with a long checklist of expectations, chief among them being cleanliness.
While growth is still on the horizon for U.S. hotels, so are investments in areas that provide comfort and an improved guest experience. Hotels that are looking to make investments may be able to glean which areas need the most attention from an increasingly popular tool: the online review. Guests are using online reviews to either praise or warn properties – and other guests – about both positive and unpleasant experiences.
When researching properties to book a hotel room online, consumers search for hotel reviews more than price or location. According to Google Trends, the term “hotel reviews” was significantly more searched than “hotels in downtown” or “hotel prices” between November 2017 and October 2018.
A reply can demonstrate to other guests looking to book that the hotel is responsive. Therefore, many hotel managers are doing their best to monitor and quickly respond to online reviews. However, hotel managers are extremely busy with other aspects of day-to-day business. How can hotel managers better use online reviews to understand what areas need attention to improve the overall guest experience?
Making bad reviews to work in the hotel’s favor
Given the online review’s critical role in today’s consumer decision making process, Rentokil Steritech and Ambius, the global leader in interior landscapes, surveyed hotel decision makers from several of the world’s largest hospitality companies to understand what elements of guest experience were a focus for investments.
One of the findings shows that hotel managers pointed cleanliness as the primary factor likely to influence guest experience. 27% of respondents believe that investments in cleanliness will help drive better online reviews. Still, others report a decrease in bookings after a negative online review.
From the very first moment guests enter the hotel lobby, they are making judgments on the cleanliness of the accommodations. Anything that is less than their expectation is more likely to show up on the review they leave online.
There are many tools that can help hotel managers find guest complaints about cleanliness issues. Online reviews can be found on a hotel’s website and social media. Outside portals exist for this purpose as well, such as Hotels.com, Expedia, Trip Advisor, and Kayak. Weekly monitoring should look at those platforms for reviews. Examples of cleanliness issues might be strong smells, mold, rust stains and grime in the bathroom. Additionally, items left behind in refrigerators, microwaves, and drawers, and the presence of pests can be red flags to guests.
Despite a hotel management’s’ best efforts, the nature of the business very often opens the door for a variety of pests, like cockroaches, rodents, bed bugs, fleas, and others. Amongst those unwanted guests, there is one that has dramatically disrupted hotel’s review rates: the bed bug. A study conducted by the University of Kentucky shows that a single mention of bed bugs in an online review can lower the Average Daily Rate of a room at any given hotel by $23 – $38 per night. Bed bugs are not always a cleanliness issue. They can be introduced to a hotel property at any time by a traveler. However, they are often perceived as a gap of proper cleanliness among guests.
Investing in hotel staff training may help to mitigate the risk of bed bug activity if they are detected early. Daily inspections for bed bugs can be performed by the housekeeping staff at no additional cost to a property as they clean rooms and change linens.
For more eye-opening insights, download Rentokil Steritech’s full report The power of the online review.
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Positive reviews have the power to drive more bookings and increase a hotel’s room rate. Bad reviews, on the other hand, can keep guests away before they’ve ever even visited a hotel.
Cleanliness is the most critical factor in guest experience, both for guests and hotel decision. As pest control plays an essential role for cleanliness, it is important to partner with a provider like Rentokil Steritech who can quickly address and eliminate any pest presence before it turns into a major problem.
Your pest control provider also can support your staff with onsite training sessions and training materials. Videos and webinars are available both for general pest activity and bed bugs specifically.
If you suspect a bed bug problem, contact Rentokil Steritech to have a specialist perform an inspection immediately. Do not forget to make a note of the room number and the specific location of the pest.