We’ve been using AI, specifically Natural Language Processing, for quite some time to gauge the sentiment of guest comments submitted during guest experience surveys. With all of the recent buzz and expanded use of tools like ChatGPT, we’ve started to use new AI tools for a variety of tasks beyond sentiment analysis (i.e. research, writing, editing, marketing).
In our last blog post, we “challenged” ChatGPT to do some research for us and then write about a topic that we’re pretty familiar with - just to see how the brainpower of our small group of humans stacks up against modern computing power armed with the vast knowledge of its training data. Turns out we did ok; you can see that blog post here.
So, for this post we decided to have ChatGPT help us dig a bit deeper into another subject we’ve been looking at for a long time; the importance of guest experience vs expectations. Back in the fall of 2021, as part of our podcast series about online reviews, we spent some time exploring this topic. More specifically, much of the conversation focused on our hypothesis that understanding the “gap” between the experience delivered to a guest versus the expectations they had going in, is the secret sauce in experience feedback analysis. If you’d like to listen (or watch) the segment that covers this, we’ll drop the links at the end of this post.
For this AI exercise, we focused on using ChatGPT’s capabilities to have a “conversation”, drawing and building on questions, information, and answers that are part of the entire thread. As an example, after we asked ChatGPT to find studies to support our hypothesis, we followed up by asking it to read through the studies to identify and summarize relevant points to our position.
Finally, we asked it to help us write a blog post about all of this, including generating title ideas, content headings, keywords, and a meta description. After tweaking and editing, we asked it to include something at the end to position it as a marketing piece for GuestInsight (yes, it went out and looked through our website to figure that part out too). Pretty cool stuff.
Unlocking the Secret to Stellar Guest Experiences: What Negative Reviews Reveal
Negative reviews are an inevitable part of the hospitality industry. Even the most well-run businesses receive negative feedback from time to time. However, negative reviews can also provide valuable insights for hospitality operators. By analyzing the common themes in negative reviews, hospitality operators can identify areas for improvement and create a guest-centric culture that delivers exceptional service.
Common Themes in Negative Reviews:
Studies have consistently shown that disappointment and unmet expectations are the most common themes in negative hotel and restaurant reviews. Managing guest expectations is crucial to avoiding negative feedback from customers. Here are highlights from several examples of these studies:
A study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management in 2016 analyzed 7,031 reviews of hotels and restaurants on TripAdvisor and identified the most common negative themes and language used by reviewers. They found that "disappointment" was one of the most frequently used words in negative hotel reviews, appearing in 22% of all negative reviews. Similarly, "did not meet expectations" was another common phrase, appearing in 17% of all negative hotel reviews.
Another study published in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management in 2019 analyzed 6,277 reviews of luxury hotels on TripAdvisor and identified the factors that were most strongly associated with negative reviews. The researchers found that "not meeting expectations" was one of the most significant factors contributing to negative reviews, along with poor service, cleanliness issues, and high prices.
Öğüt and Onur Taş (2012) investigated the impact of internet customer reviews on online sales and prices in the hotel industry. The authors found that negative reviews containing phrases related to unmet expectations or disappointment negatively influence potential customers' booking intentions.
Berezina et al. (2016) used text mining to analyze online hotel reviews and identified common themes among satisfied and dissatisfied customers. They found that negative reviews often contain words and phrases related to disappointment, unmet expectations, and dissatisfaction.
Chen and Xie (2017) discuss the role of online consumer reviews as a new element of the marketing communication mix. It specifically mentions that negative reviews tend to include words or phrases related to unmet expectations or disappointment, which can influence potential customers' perceptions and purchase decisions.
Lee et al. (2017) analyzed the impact of negative online reviews on product sales and found that negative reviews containing words and phrases related to unmet expectations or disappointment have a more significant impact on sales compared to other types of negative reviews.
Addressing Disappointment and Unmet Expectations:
So, what can you do as a hotel or restaurant operator to address these themes of disappointment and unmet expectations? First, it's important to monitor your online reviews regularly and respond promptly and professionally to any negative feedback. This shows that you take guest satisfaction seriously and are committed to improving. Look at recurring specific examples of where expectations weren’t met, and make adjustments, whether they be facility or service related. And, it's important to not just focus on negative reviews - positive reviews can also offer insights into what guests appreciate about the business and what sets it apart from competitors.
It’s crucial that operators make an effort to manage guest expectations. After all, if expectations are unrealistically high, the likelihood of meeting them is not good. This can be done by providing accurate descriptions and images of services and amenities in marketing materials, setting clear expectations during the booking process, and communicating effectively with guests throughout their stay or visit.
Creating a Culture of Guest-Centricity:
Ultimately, addressing the themes of disappointment and unmet expectations in your business is about creating a culture of guest-centricity. By putting the guest first and striving to meet or exceed their expectations at every turn, you can create loyal customers who will return to your establishment again and again.
Being Proactive and Taking It To The Next Level:
Hospitality operators looking to take their guest experience management to the next level can utilize tools like guest experience feedback survey platforms and partner with hospitality consulting firms. Using a guest experience feedback survey platform like GuestInsight can help operators proactively collect feedback from guests, understand whether expectations are being set properly, and give them an opportunity to address any issues before they become negative reviews online. By using the insights gained from guest feedback, operators can make data-driven decisions to improve their services, facilities, and marketing materials to ultimately provide a better experience for guests.
Partnering with a hospitality consulting firm that specializes in guest experience management can also provide valuable insights and guidance for hospitality operators looking to improve guest satisfaction. These firms can analyze online reviews, identify areas for improvement, and help implement changes to improve the guest experience.
While negative online reviews can have a significant impact on the reputation and success of a hospitality business, they can also provide valuable insights for improvement. By paying attention to online reviews, hospitality operators can identify common themes where guest experiences fell short of expectations, and take steps to address these issues. By proactively collecting guest feedback with tools like guest experience feedback survey platforms, operators can make data-driven decisions to improve their services and facilities, and ultimately provide a better experience for guests.
One key factor that can help to prevent negative reviews is setting realistic guest expectations. By providing accurate descriptions and images of services and amenities, setting clear expectations during the booking process, and communicating effectively with guests throughout their stay or visit, operators can help to ensure that guests are satisfied with their experience.
In fact, negative reviews can be a powerful tool for improving guest satisfaction and ensuring long-term success in the hospitality industry. By embracing all reviews, good and bad, and using them to make improvements, hospitality operators can create a culture of guest-centricity that delivers exceptional service, meets or exceeds guest expectations, and attracts more guests. In short, negative online reviews may seem like a setback, but they can be a valuable source of information and a catalyst for growth and improvement in the hospitality industry.
Podcast Episode About Disappointment