Your Online Reputation Hinges On Doing One Thing


On my twenty-first birthday, my mom and I went to dinner a restaurant called Vernons at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. When we walked into the restaurant, the hostess greeted us by name and led us directly to our table.

Our waiter immediately came over and started interacting with us. He asked what the occasion was, joked with us, made us feel comfortable, and then recommended some wine options based on the occasion. Although one of the wines he recommended was not in the cards that evening, he was bold while being light-hearted. 

As the evening continued on, he was there for our every need, in the periphery watching, while keeping space for an personal evening. The chef even brought out a gorgeous dessert, but they didn't sign happy birthday, and thank goodness. I hate when restaurants do that.

In the end, it was a wonderful evening that I still reflect upon today with memories made inpart by the staff at the Sawgrass Marriott.

Since then, I've told many people about the evening and they have gone and dined there. I’ve never heard a bad thing about it. My experiences there confirms how incredible it is. From the moment you pull up out front to the moment you get in your car to leave; every interaction, every moment, creates a memorable experience.

We see this with companies like Marriott. Why do you think that they are one of the largest hotel chains in the world? It is partly because they have created a company culture that praises creating memories for individuals over making a quick buck. This thinking comes from the top down and permeates into the world. They treat their employees incredibly well. J.W. Marriott & J.W. Marriott JR. understand that if you take care of your people, they will be excited to take care of you and your customers.

Marriott has a different approach to doing business, and guests love it!

This creates a positive feedback loop. The executives take care of the employees (going the extra mile for them), the employees take even better care of the guests (going the extra mile for them), and the guests continue to come back. In turn, driving sales and greater customer satisfaction. These types of feedback loops tend to develop raving fans, loyal customers, and increased sales. It is incredibly simple to understand, yet extremely difficult to execute. One reason is that putting others before yourself is hard.

Have you ever asked a Marriott employee how they like working there? Every person I’ve asked cannot stop talking about how amazing it is. They say words like “caring,” “different,” “enjoyable.” How many people in the world truly enjoy their work?

How does digital advertising factor into this understanding of why Marriott is one of the largest and best hotel chain in the world?

Raving fans.

The digital world is expanding exponentially! Everyone from toddlers to our elders use iPhones and iPads on a daily basis. And everyone in between has an opinion. These raving fans, and the contrary, take to the Internet to share how incredible, or not so fantastic, their experiences are.

They take to sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, Open Table, Facebook, Google, and leave reviews. Those reviews help dictate whether that guest’s friends and family come experience a Marriott hotel. Like I said, it permeates out into the world. 

Take a look at the Trip Advisor page for the Sawgrass Marriott here. Every single review has a response on it from a guest relations manager named Brian. He interacts with guests even after they are long gone. He thanks the guest for staying with them and for leaving a review.

The kicker… Every comment is written to that guest personally. It isn’t automated. The good reviews aren’t ignored while the bad ones are apologized to. Every single comment (read guest) is interacted with. This helps the Sawgrass Marriott improve their services to a higher level, but also makes every guest who leaves a review feel like they are being listened to.

Now, I understand that Marriott is massive! They have the resources to hire someone full-time to take care of their online reputation. I get it.

But invert that thought. Instead of thinking that they have the resources and you don’t, think of it as, “Your reputation is worth investing in because it will pay large dividends in the long term.” Interacting with every review you get creates a personal connection with each guest.

The key when interacting with guests is to be proactive, not reactive.

Do not make excuses if someone leaves a bad review! Do not fire back with an excuse that you were too busy, too rushed, too angry, too anything. Your guest doesn’t care about you personally or the million other things you have to do at work. They care about how you can take care of them in the moment.

So, instead of being reactive, be proactive and offer to help the situation.

Apologize, and then offer to do something for them. It could be as simple as 10% off, or whatever you come up with, be creative! But, please do not be reactive. This will only light a fire under that already upset guest and their counter reaction will not be good for your business. It’s like the news. Bad news travels fast, good news takes a lot longer.

Do you respond to every review your business gets?
If so, how have you seen it benefit your business?
Leave a comment below telling me.