Software Advice, a source for reviews and research for hotel reservation tools, recently published the results from a survey they conducted on the most effective tactics for collecting guest feedback.

Customer feedback is vital in any industry, but in the hospitality industry in particular, personal comments and complaints from individual guests can reveal problems managers may not have noticed. Conversely, guest feedback can also be a barometer for what a hotel does well—so managers are wise to tap into this resource as often as possible.

“The results of our survey showed that not only are guest more likely to deliver feedback to hotels close to or immediately after check-out, but the responses are more likely to be thorough and accurate during that time,” noted Taylor Short of Software Advice.

Hotels depend on honest guest feedback in order to know what practices improve guest satisfaction and what needs to be reevaluated. With this survey, we wanted to find out when guests would rather complete a feedback form, their preferred survey method, and what incentives would encourage them to provide feedback. Some of our key findings include:

  • Guests are most likely to give feedback around check out, either during check-out or within a few days after check-out.
  • 41% of participants would prefer to give feedback through an online survey, while a close 32% would prefer a paper survey.
  • 46% of respondents say they would be more likely to give feedback if offered a credit in the hotel restaurant or bar; however, our feedback expert says incentives like this can create bias in responses.
  • Women are more likely than men to provide feedback

The team overseeing the survey wanted to find the situation that would result in the most feedback for hotels, so they conducted an online survey of 1,936 randomly selected U.S. consumers about their likeliness to deliver feedback in terms of timing, method and incentives. Here are the important takeaways.

“Guests tend to prefer survey formats that are familiar. So, while conducting surveys on tablets and mobile apps are future-facing practices, they don’t have the same high engagement rates as simple paper or online surveys,” Taylor said.

“In speaking with experts about incentivizing surveys, we learned that incentives can introduce bias. But if necessary, hotels should offer a perk that is low in cost, but still creates excitement, such as an entry into a drawing.”

The survey results set up a scenario that will provide the most valuable feedback from guests: Request feedback from guests during their stay or as soon after checkout as possible using a tablet computer or paper surveys. Offering incentives may introduce bias, but if you must, offer entry into a drawing to avoid giving away too much value.

Hotels will have the best response rates if a feedback access point (a paper form or tablet computer) is easily available in an on-site location that gets the most foot traffic.

And when collecting feedback, hotel managers can expect that survey responses will likely skew to the very positive or very negative—but this can help hotels identify strengths to maintain and weak areas to improve to increase the satisfaction of future guests.

How do you prefer to offer guest feedback?