Situated ten kilometres from the seaside town of Port Alfred, South Africa, Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve, part of the international Mantis Collection of properties, offers an experience that is unique to the Eastern Cape. The hotel itself may be small, providing ten boutique suites to guests, but the property includes 750 hectares of game reserve and a seven kilometre private beach, giving guests the best of both worlds. “The experience is based on a core hospitality experience,” explains General Manager, Chris Roberts. “It's about putting your feet up, getting away from everything, and just relaxing.”
“We aim to be one of the top boutique hotels in the country, if not in the world,” says Chris, “and one of the things that we need for that is that feedback from guests.” The team at Oceana has found that GuestRevu is the perfect tool for collecting and analysing that feedback.
Before Oceana joined the GuestRevu family, management were making use of a direct feedback solution, but found the offering to be limited in a number of ways.
“It didn't have any online reputation management, and I didn't find that it collated all information together,” Chris explains. One example that he gives is the collection of online reviews: “We'd get update emails from the individual websites, but there was quite a lot of manual admin in making sure that things were done.”
“When you're aiming to be the top, the difference between a good stay and a great stay is minute percentages in terms of what you do,” says Chris. This meant that finding the smallest hiccoughs in their guest experience was essential, and getting as much feedback from their guests as they could was vital. While management was already getting direct feedback from their guests, they were finding it difficult to encourage guests to leave online reviews.
“TripAdvisor was a priority,” Chris explains. “We find that guests, especially at our luxury level, they want to have something that explains or shows what the experience they're going to get is.... We always did a lot of work on that and we tried to get more reviews out of it [but] we always had to do that manually.”
As a property that provides a wide range of activities, from game drives, to beach picnics, to spa treatments, Chris wanted to be able to ask guests about the activities that they had taken part in, but found that their previous survey solution didn’t have the capacity to ask the questions that they needed answers to. “Where we wanted to adjust it for our unique circumstances, we couldn't,” he explains.
With their aim to be the best boutique hotel in the country, Chris wanted to be able to compare Oceana’s guest experience to other properties both locally and internationally. As the property forms part of the Mantis Collection, the group also wanted to be able to compare Oceana’s performance to that of their other properties around the world.
Thanks to GuestRevu’s dedicated support team, TripAdvisor Platinum Partnership, competitor datasets, and reporting functionality on both an individual property and a group level, Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve are able to:
“We adopted GuestRevu about three and a half years ago,” Chris remembers. “At the time it was extremely easy — a couple of email addresses were set up, we gave it to the staff, and they ran with it. And now, every morning, staff come in and then manually upload [guest email addresses], and we send out our GuestRevu questionnaires to the guests that departed the previous day.”
And while the staff are using GuestRevu’s questionnaires daily, GuestRevu’s consolidated dashboard and reporting have also become part of Chris’s routine: “I pull a weekly report that gives me an overview of what's happened in the last week, with scores for all the primary service areas, NPS, overall satisfaction, and value for money.”
The days of manually searching through sites to find their latest reviews are behind the team at Oceana. Instead, reviews are pulled from across a variety of sites, including TripAdvisor, Google Review, Facebook, Booking.com, Expedia and more, and displayed alongside the questionnaire responses, providing Oceana’s management with a complete picture of their guest experience without any manual effort being required.
“What we couldn't do [before GuestRevu] is correlate all that information into a single dashboard that gave us a guest experience score,” says Chris.
Not only does GuestRevu’s review collection save the team at Oceana time, it also helps them to start more conversations with their guests, and manage those relationships with ease.
“When the guests are here, they will give you feedback on their stay, but it's nice having something that's slightly impartial and also a little bit of distance from their stay,” Chris explains. “We get a whole lot of constructive criticism, and just really good points about the property that you wouldn't get in talking to a guest when they're here during the experience.”
As soon as a guest fills out a survey or leaves a review on any of a wide range of online travel agency (OTA) or review platforms, a notification is sent to the Oceana team, who are then able to respond and address any concerns that may have been raised as quickly as possible.
“It opened us up to things like Google Reviews, Booking.com, Expedia, and so on,” says Chris. “While we were booking on those platforms, we weren't utilising the review process within them. And that really has made a big difference to us, where we're starting to get more reviews on those OTAs, and we're starting to get more business from them because there's a better review platform and a better reputation on those OTAs.”
And while TripAdvisor has always been, and will remain a priority for Oceana’s management team, since starting with GuestRevu, Chris has noticed that a lot less time needs to be put into the platform. As a TripAdvisor Platinum Partner, GuestRevu makes it easy for guests to leave reviews on the platform straight from Oceana’s questionnaire, without them even needing to log in.
“Using it at the back of our survey obviously gives us a few more conversions in terms of reviews each month, and it's a lot easier for us to manage in terms of seeing what that feedback coming back from TripAdvisor is.”
GuestRevu’s stance that no two properties are the same, and the dedication of their support team, has given Chris the freedom to make as many changes to Oceana’s feedback questionnaires as he likes, allowing him to ask guests the questions that he needs answers to. “Recently I spoke to Chris [Alexandre], the CEO, about doing a very custom question on our guest surveys with very specific answers, and he was extremely open to that,” he explains. “As a GM I could sit, and I could adjust the questionnaire to get the answers back that I needed to make the right decisions about running the business.”
“In customising the survey, what it allowed us to do was ask the questions about very specific areas that we want to know about. The key performance areas give us this scoring background or benchmark for each department... for all the specific areas of the business that we want to look at. And we can then benchmark that on international clients, on our local clients. We can look compared to last year. We can look compared to last month. And it gives us a really good benchmark of exactly where the business is and where the specific departments need to work or not.”
“When we moved over to GuestRevu, it was actually because whole group moved over to GuestRevu,” explains Chris, “and one of the primary reasons for that was that GuestRevu gave the group a dashboard where they could benchmark the various hotels against each other.
“That capability to benchmark hotels and see who's doing well and who's not, who's got a good food and beverage operation, versus who's got a good housekeeping operation, really helped us in terms of fine-tuning our group operations.”