Are recurrent client opinions used in an effective way?

For more than 15 years I have seen hotels using client satisfaction surveys, essentially thought for internal consumption, since from the outside the ancient mouth-to-ear method is still working.

This analog system, allows the Hotel to have an absolute control on the comments and observations generated by its clients, some data that has interest in knowing and counts on the capacity of deciding whether to make it public or maintain its private character.

I have had first-hand knowledge about the mechanics in vacation hotels, which consisted of leaving in the room or delivering to the travel Agency representative a model of survey, expecting the client may have the opportunity of sparing some minutes before the exit and fill the different questions with regard to the diverse services and facilities offered by the Hotel.

It is easy to imagine, before delivering the surveys to the Hotel management, someone from the Agency choosing randomly some survey to verify how was their attention valued, with the risk that some of them could remain in their desk, with the imaginable purpose of correcting immediately any detected failure.

The surveys were received some time later by the Hotel manager, who proceeded to read each one of them in a detailed and meticulous way, to quantify its number and to tabulate its results, introducing with certain probability “enough” adjustments, increasing and reducing the quantity of copies processed, in such a way that the finally obtained result was susceptible of opting to the monthly bonus, in compliance with the established parameters by the Hotel Chain management for its concession.

As we may suppose, handled information was a lot distant from being reliable, accurate and timely, as some weak points existed in the chain of custody, only comprised part of the clients and was processed during a wide time lapse.  Besides, in repeated occasions, the derived proposals based on obtained results became pending matters in Management Committee meetings, until the person in charge of recalling them stopped doing it.

Currently, with technology use, the web, data processing tools and social mass media, this system which had become obsolete without any doubt has been complemented or even substituted by a possible contact and direct and unlimited communication of the client with the Hotel and with other travelers, on an immediate, automatic and indelible form.  The possibility to express any opinion in an accessible and public backup by anyone and in a categorical way, means a double external and internal implication for the Hotel, since it is able, and I understand owes, to be utilized as reference not only by clients and travelers but also by the own hoteliers.

Within the Hotel field, real client opinions, after being properly tabulated and organized by areas or departments, can represent a very valuable source of feedback, which allows to identify different axes of improvement for business operation, considering the vision provided by users of the services and installations that the Hotel offers.

Logically, as a compensation to the greater information volume and available communication channels, the Hotel has lost its old decision-making ability, in the sense of sharing with third parties specific opinions, clients trends or rating, since they are available for any person that want to access them.

Once we have reached this stage, a couple of questions can be presented.

On the one hand, obtaining a high number of followers, friends or contacts, although they may be achieved through automated means, pursue the idea of acquiring notoriety or presence in the social networks, or there is really a certain interest in knowing the opinion from the clients?.  Being the second option the right one, client opinions are used to revise the operation of the hotel, or it is a simple data that is valued and analyzed in the best case, but then sinks into oblivion?

On the other, the Hotel rating in search engines and review sites, besides opinions which are free and really declared by clients, to what extent also depends on the material, human and technical resources they have available?

(Post published on 21.Sep.2012, blog upgrade date is shown)

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