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Reputation to revenue.Australia is famed for the vibrancy of our hospitality industry. Millions of guests spend hundreds of millions annually in our hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. In a competitive industry, though, standing out isn’t always easy. Today, a venue’s success isn’t solely determined by the quality of its food and service but also by its guest experience and the online reputation that it creates. But how can hotel F&B venues create the experiences guests want to sing about? How can venues take control of their online reputation and use it to drive acquisition and retention?

Prioritise your experience

Before building your online reputation, you must give your customers a reason to promote you. While food and drink are still essential for guests, they’re just one part of a broader ‘guest experience’. In the wake of cost-of-living pressures, two-thirds of Australians focus more on the quality than the quantity of their visits to venues. Moreover, more than half (56%) of Australians hold hotels to a higher standard post-pandemic. Guest experience is becoming a critical competitive advantage.

SevenRooms research found that guests today want personalisation, recognition for their loyalty and convenient, modern interactions with venues. When asked what would incentivise their loyalty, 39% said they received personalised offers based on their food and beverage choices during a previous visit. In comparison, 35% said they would if they received additional loyalty points for enjoying on-property restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, 50% expect to be able to make bookings, reservations, and purchases online or through contactless technology rather than via phone calls or in person.

All those elements collectively contribute to the guest experiences that people remember and recommend. So, while the quality of a menu is – and always will be – very important, there are tens of thousands of venues nationwide that provide exceptional cuisine. The venues that stand out are those that build a holistic experience around that meal, providing guests with the personalised, memorable and convenient experiences they demand – and will review online.

Omnichannel online reputation

Customer reviews come in from every direction – Google, Facebook, Tripadvisor, social media and more – and all need a reply. Today, consumers are omnichannel; they discover and engage with businesses on multiple platforms online, all of which are essential. Knowing where to start is daunting, but that’s where technology comes in.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) make managing your online presence more accessible, faster and more efficient – on every channel. Monitoring tools can track mentions of your venue online, whether from Google, social media or somewhere else entirely, enabling you to keep tabs on who is talking about you and what they’re saying. Tracking them is one thing, and responding is another entirely different thing – especially with 70% expecting responses on social media within 24 hours.

Failing to respond to mentions or unanswered direct messages can lead to missed reservations, revenue loss, and, ultimately, tarnish a restaurant’s reputation. The opposite is just as valid. With the help of automation, venues can manage and build their reputation, using that to foster relationships, incentivize retention and acquisition, and improve their perception. This is where AI and automation shine.

Tapping into technology

When implemented through chatbots, for example, AI can automate replies, providing immediate responses, in context, to common inquiries, reservation requests, customer service requests and guest feedback. Ideally, every review or inquiry should be responded to – whether thanking a positive reviewer or offering something to an unhappy customer. Knowing they’re heard is an essential component of that guest experience.

SevenRooms’ reputation management software consolidates online reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, and Tripadvisor into one dashboard. This data allows a venue to see its daily aggregated star rating, quickly respond to reviews, and better understand guest sentiment. With a unified view of all your guest reviews, you can quickly identify trends that help improve guest satisfaction and loyalty.

For example, you can address the issue if reviews commonly cite a long wait for food or the absence of contactless menus or payment options. Suppose several positive reviews cited your extensive wine list. In that case, you can build customer segments, informing them when you have a new vintage in stock, an event like an evening with a sommelier, or a deal on the bottle they ordered previously. Or, if someone left a negative, you can invite them back with a complimentary offer and give your staff the data and insights to tailor the guest experience accordingly.

While your menu will always be essential, it’s only as important as the guest experience that surrounds it and the online reputation that promotes it. According to ReviewTrackers, 33% of diners wouldn’t consider a venue with an average 3-star rating. Guest experience is what today’s leading venues use to separate themselves from the competition. With technology and the right strategy behind the scenes, venues can turn their online reputation to drive more traffic, loyalty and revenue.




Written by: Paul Hadida, General Manager, APAC at SevenRooms