Reputation Management as Guest Service

Justin Shank Raving NEXT Conference

Developing a framework and process

In my Raving Flash Report, I spent some time walking through the strategic benefits of reputation management and how your property can use it to improve guest relationships, enhance your brand positioning, and continue to improve the guest experience at your property. In this article I want to take that strategic development one step further and give you some examples of how you can enlist the help of teams at your property to diffuse the workload of reputation management, and in the process help cultivate a property-wide culture of valuing reputation management.

First things first, you need to identify all of the platforms where your brand has a significant following or would like to have a significant following. Google My Business, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp are good places to start. If you’re looking for other sources to include, you can check your web referrals in Google Analytics, or whatever web analytics tool you use, to find other sites that are already effectively driving traffic to your website.

With your channels identified, you can now develop frameworks and processes with your team that you think present the best guest service value to your guests. While reputation management is a valuable tool for us as marketers, if we lose sight of the core reason for doing reputation management (guest service), then we are failing to truly meet the needs of our reviewers and effectively manage the public perception of our brand.

With these frameworks and processes in place, present them to your executive team. Getting executive buy-in and support for your reputation management plan increases the chances of it becoming not just something you do, but an integral part of the culture at your casino property. Your executives may even want to help respond to reviews themselves!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when developing frameworks and processes:

  • How many channels are you tracking?
  • What does your process look like for reviews that come in with no comments included?
  • How does that process differ for reviews where the user did leave a comment?
  • Do you have management approved responses to frequently asked questions and common complaints?
  • How many team members are involved in the reputation management process, and how is that workflow managed?
  • How much time can pass before you need to have a response to a review?

Included below is an example of how you could template the above bullet points to kick start your own reputation management planning. The answers provided are samples only, and you can feel free to change them around in your own planning to best meet the needs of your property.

Channels tracked: Google My Business, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and OpenTable

Process for reviews left without comment: one, two, and three-star reviews that do not include a specific comment will be left alone. If the guest did not feel strongly enough to leave a comment, we are not going to extend the lifespan of the review by reaching out to them publicly for more information. Four and five-star reviews can be responded to with a simple thank you with the name of the guest included.

Process for reviews left with comment: One, two, and three-star reviews will be forwarded to the point of contact person in the department that is mentioned in the review. The goal of doing this is to help gather more information about what happened so that we can accurately respond to the guest’s complaints. With this information in hand, a marketing representative (or even an executive if the review is particularly bad) can respond to the guest and address the specific nature of the complaint. Negative reviews may also include an invitation to come back to the property at the company’s expense to make right whatever experience prompted the negative feedback. Four and five-star reviews will be responded to by a marketing representative thanking the guest by name and engaging specifically in response to the specific part of the guest experience that prompted the positive feedback. Response will conclude with an invitation to the guest to return for an upcoming promotion or event that is related in a meaningful way to the experience that prompted the review (don’t invite someone who raved about keno back for a slot tournament; it just looks like a sales pitch instead of a personal invitation).

Management approved responses:

(The template could look something like this) If a guest writes a review complaining about (x issue), please respond to them in a timely manner with the following management approved response: “…”

Roles and responsibilities: This section should list name, position, and contact information for everyone involved in the reputation management strategy. It should also include what their responsibilities are and when they need to be contacted by other team members who are also helping with reputation management.

Timeframe for response: We will respond to all reviews in accordance with the plan outlined above within 24 hours of receiving the review. In the event that reviews are received over the weekend, we will respond by end of day Monday.

The nice thing about a document like this is that once it is put together, everyone who is helping to implement your reputation management strategy can keep a copy, and instantly know exactly how to handle any type of review that a guest may write. Developing a comprehensive reputation management strategy and backing it up with executive support will vastly improve your team’s ability to respond to reviews in a thoughtful way that provides strong value to your guests. This in turn strengthens the public perception of your brand and will ultimately lead you to better guest relationships and more profitability. I’m not just saying that; there are more than a few statistics to back up that assertion.

Keep these numbers in mind as you develop your reputation management strategy:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • What reviews show up first when you search your business on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp? What do they, and the way your company has (or hasn’t) responded to them, say to a potential guest?
  • Online reviews impact 67% of purchasing decisions.
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
  • This is HUGE since most of us work for locally owned casinos! How can you cater your reputation management strategy to help build trust in your brand? Every one-star increase in a Yelp rating can be worth a 5-9% increase in revenue for restaurants, according to Harvard Business School.
  • 42% of guests won’t use a business with less than a three-star rating.

If you still need more convincing, you can find a more complete list here with references included from Status Labs.

At this point, I hope that I have made a case for the strategic benefits of reputation management, and I hope that the framework I have included above will help get conversations started at your property about how your team wants to handle reputation management. I can’t stress enough that the reputation of your business is something that must be carefully and thoughtfully protected. Many of us work at properties where guest service is consistently listed as one of the main reasons why guests continue to patronize our establishment. We all agree that guest service inside the casino is imperative, and we have programs in place to make sure that our team members consistently deliver the best experience possible. It’s time to treat online guest service and reputation management as equally imperative.

Justin Shank