"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
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Views & Interviews

Q&A: When customer feedback becomes a navigation tool

March 2017

These days you can obtain customer feedback from various sources. Social media, word-of-mouth, and of course your own internal forms handed out to guests. But printed forms rarely provide accurate or critical feedback – even when it is necessary, or justified. That’s why online forums are popular, especially on travel portals that assist bookings – these forums provide potential customers a fair idea of what people are saying about the hotel or resort.

Some of the feedback featured here has been drawn from comments submitted to popular travel portals. We have left out resort names, because featuring names is not the object of this article. It’s about being constructive about feedback – and following through with corrective action, where necessary.

Here are a few examples we came across from genuine customers who had something to say . . .

The holiday season is like the rush hour – difficult to handle

We’ve seen feedback and review submissions where customers don’t get the desired accommodation at the resort, in spite of confirmed bookings. When this happens, the resort typically arranges to accommodate the guests at a partner hotel in the city, or at a nearby location. This is invariably done for a single night, to give the resort time to re-allocate rooms and bring the guest back to the resort. And while this is sometimes truly unavoidable, the customer does feel left out and let down. So it is really up to the customer relations team to make up for the lapse with a gesture (and an offer, maybe) that makes amends.

123RF / using member credits

The festive season can get tricky – you can’t keep everyone happy

Another comment we spotted during the Christmas season last year was the Grand Buffet that one of the resorts had planned. In this case the customer was not interested in the grand buffet, and merely wanted to have quiet meal at one of the restaurants, or the privacy of his suite via room service.

Not all guests may want to experience or check out the “grand buffet” – even if that is the only option available that night. It is useful here to make the customer feel that he always has a choice that’s convenient – on F&B and other facilities at the resort.

Can you close down during expansion or reconstruction?

We’ve seen several comments on this topic – where the customer is inconvenienced to some extent with noise, dust and restricted services from some of the key facility areas. Such as the central kitchen, the gym, or the swimming pool, for instance. These are core service areas and some of the main reasons that drive traffic to a resort.

We also can see things from a resort management perspective - facilities need to be constantly upgraded and service areas need to be expanded, repaired, or reconstructed. The only solution here could be to offer a redeemable benefit or gift coupon – a gesture that comes across as genuine to the customer.

Listening to the customer, versus hearing him out

Running a resort is no easy task – especially when it comes to the hospitality industry that works so closely with the customer to ensure high service levels.  There will be times when things will go wrong, or even go beyond control. (Remember Murphy’s Law?) Being open to feedback in a constructive way is a good way to start course corrections. And placing a complaint on your back-burner won’t help either – you need to close the loop.

A few takeaways on this subject that may be useful to resort managers . . .

  1. Find the time to actually listen to the customer – when you listen to the customer with intent, he thinks you are taking him seriously. Even a tricky issue can be resolved faster, if you really are genuine about listening with intent.
  2. Communicate to the customer that the situation is only temporary and rare in terms of occurrence. Wi-Fi not working, inordinate delays in room service, billing issues, booking overloads. These are some of the bugbears highlighted on travel portals and hospitality websites.
  3. Turn a frown upside-down - make amends with an offer. An extra day free, diner coupons, or you could send a basket of rare floral scents – there are at least 1001 ways to make things up to the customer.

It is easier to handle a complaint when the customer is at the resort – you can offer your most reassuring smile and iron things out, one-to-one. But when a complaint surfaces online, you may not even be aware of it. This is why you really need to be tuned into what people are saying about you.

Because what you don’t know might eventually hurt you.

The All India Resort Development Association is a self-regulated, independent advisory dedicated to the timeshare and vacation ownership industry. AIRDA’s primary members are resort owners, who benefit from AIRDA’s constructive sharing of ideas and strategies on the running and promotion of timeshare. All members are governed by a common Code of Conduct - AIRDA works closely with member resorts to cut a clean image in the industry and offer fair value to end customers.

AIRDA also represents the industry within government circles on policy issues that could have a bearing on timeshare and vacation ownership in the country.

AIRDA has a balanced end-customer focus and provides updated information on the official website. This covers the timeshare marketplace, advice on making informed choices on vacation ownership and assistance on complaint redressal, if any.

AIRDA is an affiliated member of the American Resort Developers Association.

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