Because we can’t see the person with whom we are communicating on the Internet we lose the advantage of eyeball to eyeball contact, inflection, and attitude in discerning what that person really means, therefor our word selection and presentation must be very concise.

This physical detachment has been compounded by our need to be brief vis a vis Twitter’s 140 character “Tweet” limit as well as our need for speed when texting. Therefore entire words have been shortened to single letters or acronyms often times making the message cryptic if not impossible to decipher if one is unfamiliar with the jargon or a victim of the generational language gap.

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The Point is…

The secret to online customer service for your motel is that this electronic communication environment requires a new set of rules in order to communicate effectively or more importantly, politely. Remember, you are in the hospitality industry. (Please note that I have put the word hospitality in italics for subtle emphasis) The word for this new set of rules is…Netiquette. (in bold for more emphasis)

Netiquette isn’t rocket science but rather a common sense explanation of how to be understood on the Internet. Look it up. There are plenty of sources to be found.
Let’s say you’re a small motel, hotel, or B&B operator with a potential guest standing at your front desk inquiring about a room. When explaining your terms and conditions would you scream at them that NO PETS ARE ALLOWED!…? Or that there is NO SMOKING ALLOWED IN THE UNIT!…? Or that if there is any damage to the room they WILL BE CHARGED FOR THE COST OF REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT!…? Or ANY ONE VIOLATING THESE RULES WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE!…I think not.

You want the guest to be comfortable, you want them to know that they are welcome and appreciated so that they will want to return. Screaming at them isn’t going to do that.Yet, many small motel, hotel, and B&B’s do exactly that on their web site and in their on line terms and conditions. All caps or print larger that the rest of your text is considered yelling or shouting. Don’t do it. Not only don’t use all caps or otherwise large print, use polite language.

Rather than tell the guests that they can’t do this or that start off with an explanation as to why there is a particular condition in place.

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Many small motel owners need marketing help.

Don’t scream at your guests.

Explanations Work Better Than Rules

Try this approach…

It is our goal to provide the best possible experience for all of our guests. For this reason we do not allow pets or smoking In this unit (or at the property). Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

For other things like rules and regulations for swimming pools start off with “For your safety and the safety of others we request that…” And always end with an upbeat and cordial thank you of some sort like “Please enjoy the pool.” Or “Please enjoy your stay here at (property name) and if you have any questions or comments please call the front desk or speak with one of our staff. (Staff should be trained to listen intently, respond politely and positively, and pass the information on to management.)

Take a moment right now and review your web site text, terms and conditions, rules and regulations, etc. and be sure your language reassures the guests that you are looking out not only for their personal best interest, but fellow guests as well.

Remember, it’s easier to keep a customer that to get a new one. Your focus should be on making the guest experience as pleasurable as possible so that they will keep coming back.

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On-line Reviews…

Everybody seems to have them but the big dog is Trip Advisor. All of the OTAs have them as does YELP and many other sites. It’s impossible to keep up with them. Google+ is now doing them as well.

You must certainly pay close attention to Trip Advisor and if you are using the OTAs follow them as well. Don’t forget, Google+ has to be in the mix. Your reviews will make the difference in whether a guest books with you or not.

Every bit as important as the guest’s review is your response. In a recent blog* I pointed out an example of a very bad review response by a small property owner. Don’t be “that guy.” Respond in a respectful, caring manner to a less than stellar review. Make the guest feel like they have made a difference and you respect their opinion. A not so good review takes the place of a questionnaire—it points out a shortcoming, and is an excellent opportunity for self evaluation and improvement.

What Is A Small Motel’s Toughest Competition 

No matter how small the matter might seem to you if the guest was moved to review it it meant something to them. The scathing reviews need your immediate and contrite response. Do not ever argue with a guest in a review. It shows that guest and everyone else reading the review that your ego means more to you than good guest service and will not improve your image…or your bottom line.

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Don’t Overlook The Good Reviews

Respond to the good reviews as well thanking them for staying with you and for taking the time to do a review. It’s money in the bank.Keep everything positive and cordial. Remember, many if not most of the visitors to your site or booking with you may be doing so for the first time and as Dale Carnegie said, “You only get one chance to made a good first impression.” Make the most of it.

No Nest Feathering

Do not feather your nest by writing your own good reviews. Web surfers always read the bad reviews first anyway. If you get caught writing your own good reviews you could pay a heavy penalty by the site administrator. Stick to responding to reviews. Be sincerely appreciative for the review and the points made therein. You, your guest, your property, and your business will be much the better for the experience.  That’s good netiquette.

Free Review Of Your Text

Please send your web site’s URL, terms and conditions, or drafts of review responses for a FREE NETIQUETTE EVALUATION. (Not legal advice) –

* * *

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Netiquette defined –

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Larry Bierman

CEO Accommodations Solutions Inc at EZ Book!
Larry Bierman has spent many years in the hospitality industry and understands the needs of motel and hotel owners. Accommodations Solutions, Inc's EZ Book! Suite, a motel reservation booking system, was designed by Larry especially for the mom and pop motel owners. Visit Larry on Google+ and LinkedIn.