The pandemic pushed the entire world indoors and online. In-person interactions were limited, so we looked to the Internet for guidance and opinions more than ever before. Now, as we embrace the new normal, online reviews for hospitality workers and businesses are here to stay and can’t be ignored.
The covid-related lockdowns and restrictions of 2020 changed everything for the hospitality industry. With no guests to cook or make drinks for, many chefs, sommeliers, and other food & beverage pros took full advantage of the extra time granted to them.
What did they do?
They bought cameras, hit their kitchens, and started building their personal hospitality brand. Humble local chefs and bartenders gained thousands of online followers who are now loyal fans, ready to support whatever endeavor is next.
So, if you’re serious about turning your hospitality job into an exciting career journey, you should start focusing on how you manage your own personal brand online.
What is the impact of online reviews for hospitality workers and businesses?
Positive online reviews are a great way of organic personal marketing but negative ones can sink you. In the current industry landscape, generating a positive reputation online is incredibly important for building your personal hospitality brand. If you have a strong following or rave reviews online, it could help you get promoted or create new job opportunities altogether.
You should be active and engage with your guests who leave reviews or comments online. This shows that you appreciate their feedback and helps build up loyalty in your personal brand. If guests feel a personal connection to you they are more likely to return, tip big, and recommend you to friends.
This type of strong personal brand can carry over from job to job or make your current job do everything they can to keep you. Every boozy city has popular bartenders who draw people to drink their cocktails no matter where they are working. Or the eccentric waiter from the legendary French restaurant that all guests hope serves their table.
In the hospitality world, a big personality and strong presence online can take you a long way.
What are the most common online review websites?
There are many platforms for people to leave online reviews for businesses but some are more popular than others. While there may be certain websites that have a significant presence in one region, there are few big names that dominate the international market.
Yelp and TripAdvisor are two separate websites with unique communities, however they function more or less the same. Yelp has a big presence in the United States but isn’t really used abroad. TripAdvisor is a British company so its major market is Europe but it has also become quite popular in the U.S. in recent years.
Both platforms allow users to share reviews on the profile of any business on the platform. Businesses and other uses can then respond to those reviews and engage in a discussion.
As this Internet giant gets bigger and bigger it has begun to take bites out of all sorts of digital spaces. And the market for online reviews is no different.
On Google, users can leave reviews for all sorts of businesses, not just those in the hospitality industry. Whether it’s a dog grooming salon, a local hiking trail, or a vegan taco spot, you can use Google reviews to express your opinion.
Google reviews has gained popularity with people searching for hotels or restaurants due to its widespread usage and perceived neutrality. As Google doesn’t make money directly from commissions on hotel or restaurant bookings, it appears more trustworthy than the competition.
Even though it’s not as popular as it once was, Facebook is still used by billions of people each month. That makes it one of the largest global communities online. It’s natural that such a space would be perfect for people to share their opinions.
As soon as businesses were able to create their own Facebook profile, the reviews were sure to follow. In the early days, some users simply posted what they thought about the place on their timeline or in comments. Now, there is a dedicated review feature for all business profiles where users can write reviews and leave a rating out of 5.
The Fork, which is owned by TripAdvisor, is a booking platform that focuses only on the restaurant industry. Similar to its parent company, The Fork’s main priority is the European hospitality market.
As The Fork only focuses on restaurants, they’ve created a review system that reflects this. Their ratings are from 1 to 10 and take three parameters into account: food, service, and ambience. This allows guests to get an idea of what the entire dining experience will be like. You should be trying your best to get your restaurant’s service as close to 10 as possible.
Booking.com is unique in that it wasn’t started as a place for online reviews, like TripAdvisor or Yelp. And it wasn’t started for other purposes like Facebook or Google. Its sole mission is to get someone to book a room, flight, or rental car through their platform.
Booking.com’s influence and market share is undeniable. However, due to their business interests, it’s hard to look at them as the most neutral source for honest and unfiltered reviews.
Instagram isn’t only for businesses to promote themselves. As a matter of fact, hospitality workers are often much better at using it for promotion than the restaurants and bars they work for.
Instagram is the ideal platform for food and beverage pros to build their personal brand and engage with an audience. There are countless chefs who’ve gone from sweating in kitchens to creating culinary content for a living.
If you’re looking to join an inspiring online community based around your industry, follow @hoscojobs on Instagram. We’re always sharing stories about interesting hospitality personalities who’ve become industry celebrities thanks to their online presence.
3 key reasons hospitality workers should pay attention to online reviews
Online reviews for hospitality workers can be a valuable source of information for you to use to your advantage. You can learn many new things about the way the public perceives you and what they should do to generate more bookings. You can also learn information about your company’s performance and how you can distinguish yourself in the industry.
Hospitality professionals can gain all sorts of insight from these reviews, but there are three main factors to consider.
Feedback on personal performance
When writing online reviews, negative or positive, guests often refer to interactions they had with hospitality business’ employees. These aspects of the reviews are invaluable to your growth and you may not be able to obtain such feedback directly. Guests are much more likely to be honest behind a computer from the comfort of home than they are to your face.
If the feedback is positive, managers could shower praise on you and even start considering a promotion. You might be the guest relations manager who went above and beyond to make the stay extra special. Or maybe you’re a waiter who was extra attentive and made the guest feel right at home from their first moments. This will help management recognize you as a dedicated and motivated member of the team.
Negative feedback on employee performance can be even more illuminating.
But, when reading this type of review, managers must be able to identify who’s responsible for the poor performance. Perhaps the behavior in question was due to a lack of training or experience. If it’s clear that the employee’s attitude or work ethic is the problem, management will have food for thought.
Managers should be sensitive and selective whenever relaying guest feedback to their employees. You want the employees to feel comfortable to engage and be personal with guests, not see them as a panel of judges. If employees are thinking of the potential online review a customer might leave, they’re less likely to be present and deliver excellent service.
Feedback on the business’ performance
Beyond getting feedback about specific employees or departments, online reviews can give you a general idea which things about your hospitality business work and which don’t. Guest reviews will give you information about your strengths and weaknesses that you might have overlooked.
If guests constantly mention how the culinary options were amazing, managers know there’s something special going on in the kitchen. They can then nurture that department and do their best to retain the talent in the future. Having a top notch kitchen that pumps out delicious and memorable food for the guests can be a major selling point for a restaurant.
Using guest feedback to identify strengths can help businesses understand who they should promote or shower praise on. If your employer consistently sees your name popping up in positive reviews they will recognize that they have someone on their team worth investing in.
Keep an eye on the competition
Aside from using guest reviews to build your personal brand and improving the business overall, you can also do a bit of casual market research.
In addition to the reviews for your own workplace, you should be reading the reviews left for your competitors. This will allow you to identify where they are struggling or succeeding and help you adapt.
This is an opportunity to create a personal brand that distinguishes you from other professionals in your area.
If you work in a market that is notorious for having rude waiters, you can set yourself apart by being the friendliest in the city. If every restaurant in your neighborhood is putting out a similar bland menu, you could add exciting new dishes to make your kitchen stand out. The opportunities for creating your own unique identity in hospitality are endless.
What can hospitality businesses do to get positive reviews?
First and foremost, a hotel must create an atmosphere, through its staff and facilities, that inspires people to run home and leave them a 5-star rating. Restaurants must create a mind blowing culinary experience that guests just can’t wait to tell the world about.
While there are some people who review every hotel or restaurant they visit, others might need some encouragement. There is no problem with asking a happy and satisfied guest to leave a review online, especially if they’ve given unsolicited positive feedback in person.
However, timing and location can be crucial when asking for a review from guests. Here are some potential moments when you could encourage them to leave a review;
- Asking personally when the guest is checking out or paying
- A follow-up email with a link
- A QR code along with their bill or invoice
- Via social media platforms
If you enjoyed this article and want more news about current industry trends, chances to build your skills, or the latest job offers suited just for you, sign up for Hosco today and turn your hospitality career into an exciting journey.