TripAdvisor Rankings — How to Get More from Your Concierge
David Temple, CEO of Hello Scout, guest blogs today, giving us practical advice on how to capitalize the power of free local advice.
We recently set out to understand why concierges don't get mentioned more often in TripAdvisor reviews. In TripAdvisor's own research, nearly a quarter of reviewers listed "service" as the most important element of a hotel. And so it would make sense that a concierge would have a big impact on the reviews — after all, it's an additional layer of service included free for the guest.
Airbnb has certainly capitalized on the power of free local advice. One recent study found that the top two reasons guests stayed in Airbnbs were "insider tips from the host" and the "perspective of the inhabitants" (followed by "save money" in third place). But hotels with concierges should have the same advantage as Airbnb. A great concierge should actually be better than an Airbnb host — after all, that's what they're trained to do.
So what's going wrong?
We've talked to countless travelers over the past year and came away with two key learnings.
1 — Lack of Authenticity
While there are exceptions, a vast majority of concierges are in the kickbacks business rather than the reviews business. And travelers have learned that they can't rely on them for genuine recommendations. Since many of the outsourced concierge companies are actually bus or tour companies, it's no wonder they're prioritizing sales over authentic insider tips to the city. This practice not only undermines trust in the concierge desk, but the entire hotel experience.
2 — Not Available When You Need Them
I stayed in an Airbnb a few weeks ago and even though the host wasn't there, she gave me plenty of local tips via text message. In fact, we ended up texting most of the weekend. This is the experience that guests expect these days. In-lobby concierges are a fantastic amenity, but many of the guest's most pressing needs occur when they're already out and about. Like when it starts raining and you need to figure out what to do with three kids. Or you'd like a reasonably priced dinner spot in a new neighborhood.
So what do we do?
Luckily, both of these issues can be resolved fairly easily.
In a world of mobile phones, there's no longer a reason your concierge needs to be tethered to their desk. There are plenty of SMS tools out there so that you can now help the guest where it's most convenient for them, when it's most convenient for them.
And authenticity is simple: it's you and your team. If you're not already doing it, find time to talk to guests about the places you take friends and family when they visit. Help your guests discover places that the average 'tourist' wouldn't. And make sure that nobody is taking commissions for tour sales. Even the best intentions fade in the face of poorly aligned incentives. Consider rewarding great reviews instead.
Since guests naturally place disproportionate weight on service when writing reviews, a few small changes can make a big difference remarkably quickly.
David Temple is the CEO of Hello Scout. Hello Scout provides on-demand local concierges at no cost to boutique and lifestyle hotels. They were also the winner of Sabre Hospitality's recent Innovation Competition in Las Vegas.