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Why does reputation management spell success in hospitality?

  • Written by Paul Hadida, Managing Director, APAC GTM at SevenRooms

Today, when Australians are cautious of their spending as economic pressures persist, it is imperative for hospitality venues to deliver excellent and memorable guest experiences. In fact, a SevenRooms study found that, due to cost-of-living pressures, two in three Aussies are prioritising quality rather than quantity when it comes to their visits to restaurants, bars, and cafes. For venues to persuade them to spend up, they must give them an unforgettable experience.

An amazing guest experience doesn’t just boost the likelihood of retaining that guest, it enables them to build a reputation that drives acquisition too. A strong online reputation, driven by memorable guest experiences, is an essential way to boost revenue and retention. Here’s how experience leads to reputation and revenue.

Nothing beats an excellent guest experience

According to SevenRooms research, today's guests crave personalisation, loyalty recognition, and seamless, modern interactions with venues. When asked what would incentivise them to revisit a venue, one-third (39%) want personalised offers tailored to their previous food and beverage choices, while 35% want extra loyalty points. Half said the ability to book, reserve, and transact online or through contactless means had a strong pull. These factors collectively shape the guest experience they expect, then remember, recommend and review.

Approved guest data is what enables venues to provide this guest experience that can turn a one-time diner into a “regular”. From the very first reservation, guests must deliver an exceptional experience. Platforms like SevenRooms enable venues to collect approved guest data - such as meals ordered during past visits and upcoming special occasions - and use that to provide the personalisation, loyalty rewards and technology-driven experience they crave.

So while a venue’s menu remains crucial, it's just one piece of the puzzle. Nationwide, countless venues offer exceptional cuisine. Standing out based on cuisine alone is challenging. However, venues that truly shine are those that craft a holistic experience around the meal, delivering personalised, memorable, and convenient encounters that guests crave - and eagerly rave online.

Building and managing online reputation

Providing experiences that guests demand, remember, and return for doesn’t just provide a short-term revenue boost, it also helps venues build a great online reputation. With multiple social media channels and restaurant review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor giving diners a platform to voice their thoughts, effective reputation management has never been more important. Through an effective online reputation stargate, venues can drive acquisition and retention. On average, guests won’t consider a venue with an average rating of three stars or less, so provide the experiences that incentivise the reviews that will grab your audience's attention.

With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), it’s easier, faster and more efficient for venues to manage the reviews they receive, whether positive or negative. There are also tools available to track online mentions of a restaurant’s name - whether from Google, social media or other websites. Monitoring brand mentions helps venues to understand what people say about them. If it’s a positive mention, they can send a thank you message welcoming them back soon or if it’s negative feedback, then they can reach out to the customer and address the problem.

When a restaurant fails to respond to reviews, it could lead to missed reservations and affect their reputation. However, if they reply in a timely, engaged and proactive manner, their guests feel valued - whatever they’d said in their review - which helps to incentivise both retention and acquisition. Managing a restaurant's reputation has really become an art form in itself.

Technology in reputation management

The life of a restaurant, bar or cafe owner is busy. I know, because I once was one. Finding the time to manage an online reputation feels like a luxury, but that’s where technology comes in. SevenRooms’ reputation management software helps operators review feedback given on sites like Google, Facebook and Tripadvisor by consolidating everything into one dashboard. This consolidated data enables venues to monitor their daily aggregated star ratings, swiftly engage with reviews, and understand guest sentiment deeply. By having a unified perspective on all guest reviews, venues can identify trends. They can use the insights they have gained to provide personalised recommendations, loyalty perks, and rewards. This would result in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

For instance, if positive reviews rave about the restaurant's diverse cocktail menu, then the venue can utilise this feedback to engage customers. For example, they can create special promotions for new cocktail creations, host mixology classes or themed cocktail nights, or offer discounts on customers' favourite drinks from previous visits. If reviews frequently mention prolonged food wait times or the lack of contactless menu and payment options, then venues can address these concerns. Responding to negative reviews by extending a complimentary offer and empowering staff with tailored insights to refine the guest experience becomes viable. In this way, reviews are a source of essential insights that can drive significant benefits for new and existing guests.

Today, a restaurant's success - and reputation - isn't solely determined by the quality of its food, but by its guest experience and online reputation, too. Prioritising guest experience distinguishes leading venues in today's competitive landscape. By leveraging technology and a strategic guest experience-focused approach, venues can harness their online reputation to drive increased footfall, loyalty, and revenue.

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