Photo: Courtesy St. Ermin’s Hotel
For anyone planning a vacation, travel website TripAdvisor‘s customer-written hotel reviews can be a valuable resource.But another group has also started paying close attention to what TripAdvisor’s reviewers have to say–the owners and management teams that run hotel properties.
In the case of one ailing hotel in Central London, the website’s honest insights turned out to be an essential tool for management to assess the property and improve the customer experience.
Even before buying the antiquated St. Ermin’s Hotel in the St. James Park section of Central London in May 2010, real estate developer Amerimar Enterprises paid close attention to the hotel’s TripAdvisor reviews.
Click here to see before and after photos of St. Ermin’s >
“We were presented with a situation to potentially purchase the hotel, and what we did, frankly, is what we do in every situation where it’s an existing property: look at what people are saying on TripAdvisor,” said St. Ermin’s co-owner and COO Jon Cummins. “What we saw was that customers were saying the hotel was terrific from a location standpoint, and it was a lovely physical asset, but it was in dire need of renovation.”
At the time Amerimar purchased the decrepit 275-room property, the hotel was ranked 480 out of around 1,100 Central London hotels on TripAdvisor.
Photo: Courtesy St. Ermin’s Hotel
But after a major four-month, $46 million renovation project, St. Ermin’s soon skyrocketed to number 25 in TripAdvisor’s Central London rankings, and later jumped to number 18. It’s currently sitting at number 29, and receives mostly positive reviews.It was not just the physical overhaul that had customers writing up stellar reviews. Thanks to guidance from TripAdvisor, many aspects of the hotel’s service have also changed, Cummins said.
“It’s like having a job review every day and in the business we are in–selling hotel rooms–it’s very helpful feedback for us,” Cummins said. “We’re able to use that feedback to determine areas where there are opportunities to improve, and also to recognise members of our team who are doing great jobs.”
“We have completely changed our approach to service, and many staff that had been at the property have done a complete ‘180’ in the way they deal with customers,” he added.
Cummins said that he and many other members of the hotel’s senior management team checked TripAdvisor’s reviews on a daily basis. Not only do they digest the feedback on a general level, but in cases where a guest complains about a specific issue, the St. Ermin’s team will attempt to identify and contact him to address the complaint.
The hotel’s marketing team has also taken advantage of the wealth of information on the hotel review site.
After reading a rave write-up of a “hen party” at St. Ermin’s (that’s a bachelorette bash in the UK), the hotel created a tailored package for such getaways.
And more generally, positive feedback has helped the hotel identify some of its own strengths to tout for potential guests.
“When you see the same themes over and over–things we are doing well–it’s a benefit to us from a marketing standpoint,” Cummins explained. “At the end of the day, our goal is to differentiate ourselves from the competition, because that’s what we believe gives us the best results.”
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