Is the Guest Survey Dead?
The importance of soliciting feedback in the era of Yelp and TripAdvisor.
With the rise of review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, the relevance of the traditional guest survey is increasingly in question. In-room paper questionnaires are seldom completed, and travelers often already have a relationship with review sites. However, there is still value in following up after an owner’s stay. “Guest surveys and Yelp aren’t forces in opposition—rather, they complement each other,” says Carrie Murphy, content marketing manager at Renivate, a hotel technology start-up.
While review sites provide a platform for guests to give feedback on their own initiative, surveys reach people who would not share their experiences unless prompted. What’s more, online reviews give resorts a limited view of their customers. “TripAdvisor and Yelp will help a resort’s online visibility but only represent guests that are familiar with the web,” says Tony Loeb, vice president of sales and marketing at guest-management company Experience Hotel. Most online reviews share extreme feedback—either entirely positive or negative. “They will never show you the most important type of guest a resort should focus on: the average happy customer,” Loeb says.
Since paper surveys have low completion rates, Loeb recommends using email: “If you want to understand your guest feedback precisely, your only true solution comes from a survey sent by email after a guest’s departure.” For timeshare resorts, acquiring email addresses can be a barrier, Loeb says. Many guests book via agencies or tour operators, so their addresses may not be readily available to resort staff. Consider asking for contact information at check-in or before departure. There’s another benefit to soliciting feedback: It lets guests know that you care about their experience.
Surveys should take no more than 10 minutes to fill out. “The key is to be considerate of [guests’] time and attention by making your survey quick and simple,” Murphy says. Limit the number of questions to fewer than 10. Ask one question at a time—that is, no multipart questions—with yes/no answers or a rating from 1 to 10. Avoid biased questions such as, “How was your flawless check-in experience?”
Send the survey automatically after a guest checks out so that it doesn’t get forgotten. Murphy also recommends including a prompt encouraging guests to post a review on online platforms. “We’ve seen this increase review volume on these sites by an average of 400 percent, which can increase site traffic and bookings,” Murphy says. It’s an effective way to ensure your property can benefit from both online review sites and surveys.
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