Online reviews can, and should, play a critical role in how a hotel operates. After all, this information is from actual customers, offering a first hand look at their experiences. No one wants to be considered "high maintenance," but the internet allows for airing of grievances without personal attachment. Hotel executives will often find the most critical, and most honest, feedback online.
This isn't to say that all online feedback is aimed at the worst parts of a hotel experience. In fact, 80% of online feedback for hotels is positive. Managers in properties should understand that addressing the 20% of negative feedback is a priority.
Another important component of the feedback loop is social media. Facebook and Twitter can be among the most important parts of improving the guest experience. These sites help shift attitudes and respond to grievances, as well as bring in new customers. Negative reviews can be responded to in public, and when done correctly, can greatly change the perception of the hotel to potential and past guests. Responses can define the values of the hotel, to show the human side of the industry, and spotlight positive experiences.
While it's easy to think of post-stay surveys as something that's nice for a hotel to do, surveys can actually have considerably more impact than most people understand. The obvious benefit to a post-stay survey is that it gives guests the anonymity that makes them feel more comfortable in sharing their experiences, while giving the hotel access to a more robust set of data. The hotel sending the survey can control what's being asked in order to pinpoint problem areas and reduce future negative feedback, as well as glean more thorough responses from reviewers.
Generally speaking, information and data gleaned from post-stay surveys tends to be 4-8% more positive than online reviews, so this information can actually have positive impacts on internal metrics and customer facing numbers. On the latter point, many hotels pipe this information into the scores and search result details that customers performing a search will see. This means hotels can positively influence the ratings customer will see on sites like Google, Kayak and Hotels.com with real reviews.