How We Became A Top 5 Lodging Establishment
The primary purpose of this site is to help owners combat high fees with 3rd party travel agencies. Given that I will be the first to admit sites like Booking.com helped us to improve our guests' experience by pointing out areas that we were weak in as well as areas we excelled at. It did set us back 15% for every reservation but the feedback was invaluable.
Some Relevant Background Information
Branson Missouri is an enormous tourist destination here in the midwest with more than 700 hotels, motels, and resorts throughout the 2 surrounding counties.
Branson is home to Bass Pro Headquarters, Silver Dollar City, Table Rock Lake and much more. With an estimated 9 million visitors each year, you get a good feel for what customers like and what they don’t. Our little resort has been very good to my family and has taught us so much over the years. We have won the Certificate of Excellence 4 years in a row with TripAdvisor and currently we rank #5 on Booking.com out of all competitors – which is something we are proud of.
Competition is stiff in this industry so you have to decide early on what will you do to showcase your property and put it a step above the rest. Let's take a look and see what we do well with and what needs improvement.
7 Ranking Categories - The Good
The overall score for our property is 9.1 (The average on Booking.com is 7.2 according to them) The numbers you see above do not calculate into the overall but are additional ranking metrics provided by the customer on areas that they liked and what needs improvement.
Look on the bottom right hand corner and you will see the “High score for Branson”. Our resort ranks best in Branson on 4 out of 7 critiqued fields – Staff, Value, Location and Free WiFi. Of these 4 high marks, clearly the one most important to us is staff. That meant our customers found everyone who works with us has been above and beyond when it came to our guests. Whether it was replenishment of supplies, assisting with directions, getting them in for an early check-in, whatever. Everyone at our business was exemplary.
In regards to the Value for the money, that is a subjective call. The only way we can increase this score is to lower our rates which is not something we are inclined to do. On the other hand it does confirm that our guests feel we are priced fairly for the value and it reflects well on our business.
Location is another area that is hit or miss. If you bought your property in an ideal location, this score will be high (as ours is). But, don’t despair if your are not on the lake, right next to a theme park, or right on the main traffic thoroughfare. Instead – here is what I recommend – describe your location accurately and honestly. If you set the expectations correctly, the guest will be better prepped for what they are getting. Be careful of fluff and superlatives. Again, you are telling guests what you have and what they are renting. Tell the truth and neither of you will be disappointed.
Free WiFi is due more in part to our desire to have the best and fastest WiFi available for our guests we possibly can. If 100MB download was the fastest – we bought it. If it increased to 300MB – we upgraded. Currently, we are at 1GB with multiple repeaters located throughout. Now, if you do not need to go this quickly or your guests simply have not expressed a desire for faster internet – pass on it – invest it in other amenities and essentials.
7 Ranking Categories - Needs Improvement
While we always strive to give our guests the best possible stay we can, learning to accept reasonable suggestions and criticism is a great way to improve your guest’s satisfaction which in turn will lead to repeat business as well as referrals!
We start off with the lowest score of 9.1 – Facilities. Similar to location, facilities is sometimes an area you can’t do much about. In our case, we are physically locked in for geography with zero space to add on. Given this, how were we able to still get a 9.1? Just like location, we clearly tell our guests exactly what we have and what they should expect upon arrival. We don’t oversell our property and give the impression that we have acres of land for boat trailer parking (we don’t). We don’t tell them they are a couple of minutes away from the Branson strip (we aren’t) We don’t tell them they will be able to see the lake from their room (If they lean to one side and tip up on their toes – they might) Again, setting expectations is important.
Coming in at a 9.5 is Cleanliness. Personally, I think we have the absolute cleanest resort in Branson – and I am not exaggerating. We truly set aside the time, manpower and resources to clean thoroughly between each stay. Every sheet, blanket, pillow case, towel, wash cloth – without fail – is replaced with new, no exceptions. Toilets are scrubbed, likewise for tubs and showers, kitchen areas and so on. Still, given all that we do we still have guests who think it could have been cleaner. This happens… It is important to always look at these issues from your guests point of view.
Our last graded area is comfort with a score of 9.3 Of all the areas I love to discuss, it is this one. As we have been with Booking for 10 years we learned along the way what made the customers happy and what didn’t. Clearly, our beds made them very unhappy as our original scores back in 2014 were somewhere around 6.5 give or take. Buying one bed is one thing but we were faced with the reality of buying 34! It was either that or accept grumpy customers giving us less than stellar reviews. In 2016 we began the process of changing out each set until we had an entirely new set of mattresses and box springs for every room. In our case we settled on Simmons Beautyrest – $900 a set – and the results were immediate. Literally overnight our grades began to climb. A customer who had a great sleep was setup for the rest of the day feeling fresh and happy.