THE CUSTOMER ISN’T ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER
Make sure you understand the value of responding to your reviews!
Let’s discuss something a little controversial: online reviews and how to respond to them. TripAdvisor reviews. Facebook reviews. Google My Business reviews.
How about Yelp reviews? There, I said it. Is your heart racing all of a sudden? Blood pressure up? Face red? Good. Now settle down and take a breath. We’re going to get through this together. We’ll focus on Yelp, but what I’m going to say translates to all review sites.
Between 65 and 90 percent of consumers, depending on which study you read, are influenced by online reviews. For Yelp alone, as of March 2016, there are an average of 164 million unique visitors per month (62 million desktop computer visitors, 69 million mobile web users, and 33 million app users.) 72 percent of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more, and 90 percent say positive reviews directly influence their buying decisions. And guess what – people are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. Common sense? Of course. Okay, enough statistics. So, what does all that tell us?
It tells us that the opposite is also true. Negative reviews influence people. It also tells us that your customers probably use Yelp. You probably even use Yelp yourself to find a restaurant, or a new barber, or any number of businesses you need to look up. I’m sure you take a peek at your own reviews once in a while, and hopefully respond to them.
Can you afford to risk 65 to 90 percent of your potential customers reading your negative reviews and you pretending they don’t exist?
Restaurants and hotels
Sometimes your food can fall short of expectations, or maybe the server or kitchen got it wrong. Maybe your front desk wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. Sometimes an employee can be perceived as rude or dismissive.
I know, your employees would never be rude or dismissive. But two things:
Like the title says, the customer isn’t always right. Perception is reality. And they are always the customer. You want to keep their business, right? Get referrals? Sell more rooms or get more butts in your seats? You need to fix your negative reviews. Here is our “best practice” strategy:
How to handle negative reviews (the “recovery”)
We’ve seen two important outcomes from our partners who follow the above. First, often the customer will update their review and add additional stars. Awesome! Second, customers who have been recovered using these techniques often become extremely loyal fans of the business, sometimes even more so than if they had a good experience to start with. Super awesome! Going the extra mile and showing the attention makes a big difference.
A recent study showed that a one-star increase in a business’ Yelp score translates into substantial revenue increases. You may not like Yelp, but you can’t afford to ignore it. So, go win back a customer! | Jay Skowron, Hospitality Defender
Jay Skowron is the Founder and Principal of Hospitality Defender, specializing in social media marketing, online review management, websites, and process consulting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
ORLA proudly announces the launch of the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy (OTLA), developed in partnership with the Oregon Destination Association and Travel Oregon, and led by the industry’s top experts. The new annual experiential learning program is targeted to public and private sector tourism professionals who are seeking to polish their leadership and professional skills, continue to grow their career accomplishments, and make positive and lasting contributions to the state’s tourism economy and its success.
“We believe we are embarking on a leadership experience which will prove to be transformative for program participants,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “The academy will bring lasting personal and professional benefits to those who participate.”
Curriculum, field visits, and hands-on experiences are strategically designed to support and align with the state’s tourism goals and objectives which include four Strategic Imperatives:
The OTLA experience is designed for professionals currently serving Oregon’s tourism and hospitality industries. Interested program participants should have supervisory, managerial, or executive responsibilities in either the private or public sector. Applications from industry professionals who will soon be responsible for similar levels of responsibility are also encouraged to apply for the academy program. The strategic imperatives outlined above will serve as the program’s core themes each year. Each theme will receive focus as a part of four multi-day experiential learning programs designed to provide academy participants with comprehensive educational experiences. Each year, 20 academy participants will immerse themselves in the academy’s professional development curriculum alongside industry experts and facilitators.
For more information on the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy, visit www.Oregonrla.org/OTLA.
If you’re a cancer patient and your doctor says, “Your best hope for a cure is in another city,” your first thought may be, “Where am I going to stay and how am I going to pay for it?”
The American Cancer Society can help. The Society works together with hotels through its Hotel Partners Program to provide complimentary rooms to cancer patients who need to travel out of town to receive treatment. In 2018, more than 211 patients were served through the Hotel Partners Program with nearly 921 nights through participating hotels in Oregon. Though we have great support from numerous partners, last year approximately 247 requests went unmet in the Oregon area - which is why the Society is seeking hotel partners throughout Oregon to help fill the need for free lodging for cancer patients.
The American Cancer Society is proud to partner with and recognize the following Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association Members:
Hotels that partner with the American Cancer Society show a commitment to their communities and to patients struggling with cancer. They can be proud that their hotels are taking an active role in the fight against cancer. “I learned firsthand how difficult it can be on cancer patients that need to travel for treatments when my best friend in Bend, Oregon was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Being in the hotel business I was able to offer complimentary accommodations when he visited OHSU. My thoughts quickly went to those that do not have a connection or friend in the hotel business, what do they do? When I learned that the American Cancer Society offered a program to assist those patients, the Duniway was eager to partner.” - Ryan Kunzer (GM, The Duniway)
“Defeating Cancer is a global challenge, fought locally. Along with many hotel partners here in Portland, we are honored to support the families of patients as they go through what must be one of the most stressful times of their lives.” - Alex Dawes (GM, Embassy Suites Downtown Portland). Dawes, Embassy Suites in Downtown Portland, General Manager, is also demonstrating his commitment to the fight against cancer by participating in the 2019 Real Men Wear Pink campaign. “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Real Men Wear Pink campaigns are all about ensuring ongoing awareness and having some fun at the same time.”
The American Cancer Society is seeking additional hotel partners for the program. If you are interested in partnering to provide complimentary rooms for cancer patients or have an executive interested in participating in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, please contact Courtney Clark at email@example.com or 503.795.3971.
For information about American Cancer Society programs and services, including lodging, please visit Cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.
A federal spending bill passed in 2018 abolished a 2011 regulation prohibiting tip pooling; managers can now require that servers share tips with kitchen staff in states where employers do not take a tip credit. This change allows tip sharing among both customarily and non-customarily tipped employees in Oregon, including dishwashers and cooks. Managers, supervisors, and owners cannot participate in the tip sharing. A proposed rule to implement the change has been released as of October 7, 2019; comments are due by December 9, 2019.
One thing this proposed rule seeks to address is that the words “supervisor” and “manager” were not defined in the 2018 spending bill. This is especially important to our industry since many have hybrid approaches to their service positions. Supervisors and managers in some of Oregon’s smallest restaurant operations commonly serve guests and have participated in front-of-the-house tip pools as a part of a team approach to foodservice.
Employers are to use the “duties test” to determine who qualifies as a supervisor or manager, and establish tip pool eligibility. Essentially, if an employee’s primary or regular duty is not management or supervising, they are still allowed to participate in a tip pool. For details on the standard of the “duties test,” read the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Field Assistance Bulletin.
Prior to this change, the decision to participate in a tip pool was left to employees. For more context on the issue, check out Tipping the Scales (Oregon Business, April 2018). The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) FAQ may answer any additional questions regarding tips at Oregon.gov/BOLI.
Restaurant Employee Compensation Tools
With tip pooling being legal with back of the house employees, employers may have questions about what their options are. ORLA launched a Restaurant Compensation Solutions Workgroup to review tools being implemented in restaurant operations across the state, including mandatory service charges, tip pooling policies based on sales that assist in compensating kitchen staff, and dual tip lines notating tip options for both servers and kitchen staff.
Tip pooling policies should be carefully reviewed with counsel before implementation to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements. For more on this subject, click the links below.
For additional questions, contact Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at 503.682.4422.