Hotel Responses To Online Reviews: Case IHG – Social Listening

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Writing an article about online hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor has been on my ‘to-do’ list for a long time. The article is still coming, but I recently came across this IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) PDF about how their properties should respond to online reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.

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Note that this guide is available on the public web and IHG should have better procedures in place to keep their internal documentation private. In the meantime, we can have have a look at IHG’s instructions for property reviews.

Download (PDF, 1.3MB)

IHG Social Listening Responsibilities

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The guide suggests that the property should reply to online reviews daily, if there are many reviews.

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All 1 to 3 star reviews should be responded to within 72 hours as well as 80% of the 4-5 star reviews.

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The guidelines to respond to a negative review.

Replying to posts that may have legal implications

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This is the most interesting part of the document. IHG gives clear instructions NOT to apologize or admit liability or fault.

Case: Bed Bugs – Holiday Inn Express NYC – Madison Square Garden

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We use the example that IHG has given us.

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It took 10 seconds to find the actual review of the property. The review is very long.

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The property didn’t bother to reply to it, so IHG’s Philippines unit (IHGCare) replied using some template sentences from here and there. The response follows the cookie-cutter guidelines how to reply to a review that may have legal implications.

Case: Missed Wake-Up Call – InterContinental Kuala Lumpur

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This example is from IHG’s own website. Apparently, the property had forgotten the guest’s wake up call. Additionally the guest had lost his/her spectacles with the hotel unable to locate them.

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The property didn’t reply to the feedback that was left on the IHG’s own website, so IHGCare in the Philippines left the usual generic reply of just thanking for the feedback.

Why follow up on a review if the reply contains nothing?

If a property gets a negative review and the hotel management replies to it professionally and in-house, it can mitigate lot of the damage done and demonstrate genuine concern. But if an outsourced IHGCare agent just cuts-and-pastes sentences from a template that has nothing to do with the question at hand, it becomes borderline comical.

It is quite likely that these IHG Care employees have never set their foot on any IHG hotel and are thus really missing the depth and experience that the actual consuming of these services could provide.

Conclusion

Some hotels pay more attention to their online reviews than others. Usually, if a property does not care about the feedback they receive, it will show up negatively at the property level too.

The use of corporate employees who are not affiliated with the properties to generate cut-and-paste responses to feedback is not a viable solution. Simply put, it would be better not to reply at all.

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  • http://twitter.com/Pointsandtravel Pointsandtravel

    VERY INTERESTING!

  • Mike

    Interesting inside look into these hotel chains internal way of working. I do agree, basically these customer service support and especially from IHG (numerous experience) are very poor when you complain on something that is justified. Even calling them they are normally not able to do anything, especially the IHGcare center in the Philipines. This is one of the reason that I have given my business to other hotel chains (mind you they have their cons too, but at least my complain/issue is dealt with appropriately without the cookie cutter response). Now I understand why IHG chain hotel standards are so poor, though there are some exceptional individual hotel that actually care, in general it is a poor chain in my opinion in most of aspects, even their Intercontinental chain.

  • www.Fishing4Deals.com

    Very interesting. Love to read the inside scoop. Also, check out TripAdvisor’s just issued “TripBarometer.”

  • Madeline

    Now I understand why it took them forever to take care of the double charge in hotel indigo Chelsea

  • Mark

    I avoid IHG due to their deceptive prepaid no refund policies

    • Hotel Guests Are The Worst

      Hilton properties, and many others do the same thing. Complaining about these things is like getting mad at a bank when your interest rate goes up on a variable mortage, read the fine print and book a reservation that doesn’t charge a deposit, although sometimes it comes with a slightly higher price.
      Why do hotels get the blame for guests not reading cancellation policy before putting your credit card number in, and why do people just put their credit card number into anything without really knowing what they are paying for? This seems absurd for me in a technical age where people’s identities are always being stolen. You should be more aware of who you are paying and what you are paying for besides just acting totally surprised when your card gets charged.

  • Peter

    So what? Beat up. Nothing surprising about the guidelines, what did you expect from a multinational hotel giant? I’m sure each of the big hotel groups has a very similar document.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      It is not surprising that they have guidelines. I am sure that most chains do have.

      Why bother replying to a negative review that may have legal implications at all IF you are not supposed to address anything on the review itself?

      These “stock” replies from IHG Care. I just don’t see a point in them.

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