A visit to Portmeirion Village in North Wales is an experience in and of itself. From its unique architecture, to its luxury accommodation and fine-dining restaurants, to its 70 acres of woodland and 4 miles of coast, almost 300,000 visitors come to the village each year to escape the daily grind in what many TripAdvisor reviewers have described as a “magical place”.
With pride in their Welsh heritage, and what Revenue Supervisor, Gareth Jones, describes as an aim to “continually improve our service and facilities and to gain insight into what our customers expect from us,” Portmeirion Village’s management teams looked to GuestRevu to help them collect feedback from their local and international visitors.
“We were using a paper comment card system previously,” Gareth explains. “It took a long time for staff to go through these and enter the data onto a spreadsheet that no one ever looked at or used.”
This meant that not only was a lot of valuable time being spent on manual processes, but management was still missing out on the finer details of their guest experiences, and finding it difficult to keep track of what guests wanted and needed from a visit to Portmeirion.
“Language is incredibly important to us,” explains Gareth. “Being a Welsh tourism business, providing a bi-lingual service in Welsh and English is essential. Many of our customers come from the local area, but even for tourists, the Welsh language creates a real sense of place and improves the experience.”
This meant that any solution that Portmeirion Village considered for communicating with their visitors needed to be flexible enough to accommodate multiple languages, and needed to facilitate Welsh in particular.
“An increasing number of guests are looking online to find out more about us before booking, and online review sites are seen as trustworthy sources of information,” says Gareth. “Customers are looking around before they book and want to be reassured that they are booking a quality property that will meet their expectations. Reviews are a hugely important marketing tool as well, providing first-hand customer accounts of our facilities, products and services.”
But despite realising the importance of online reviews, management were finding that the process of collecting them was a frustrating one. “We were very tediously going through the individual review sites on a weekly basis,” Gareth explains. “It was not good enough!”
While the process in place for collecting reviews was a manual and tedious one, there was none in place for responding to reviews. “It was all a bit disjointed,” says Gareth. “We are a large site with multiple departments. There was no transparency in terms of how reviews and feedback were being responded to and there was no accountability in terms of how they were being resolved.”
“It couldn't have been easier to adopt GuestRevu at Portmeirion!” exclaims Gareth. “The whole process was seamless and as soon as we were live with the new system, we started receiving feedback - which was very exciting!”
From GuestRevu’s helpful support team — “I always hear back within a few hours of emailing them” — to the user-friendly interface, easy account switching and reporting for groups, and the ability to keep track of the sentiment behind reviews, Gareth has been thrilled with the wide range of functions that their feedback and reputation management solution fulfills.
“The most useful feature for us has been the alerts,” he explains. “With the volume of feedback we receive, it is important that we can easily find the urgent ones and respond quickly.”
Since implementing GuestRevu throughout the village, Portmeirion’s management teams have been able to:
That GuestRevu’s solutions integrate so well with Guestline’s Rezlynx PMS has been of particular value to Gareth. In fact, it was through Guestline that Portmeirion Village first came across GuestRevu: “We were in discussions with Guestline about switching our Property Management Software and they recommended GuestRevu as a way of managing online reputation and collecting guest feedback,” Gareth explains. “We subsequently had a meeting with the GuestRevu team at Explore GB and went from there.”
“We have a lot of departments, a lot of employees and a lot of visitors,” he continues. “It is important to us for our systems to be easy to use, reliable and to work well together. New systems can be intimidating, especially to staff who are very accustomed to the old way of doing things. Having the two systems work so well together, made everyone feel more relaxed and comfortable, and makes a better experience for guests.
Replacing hand-written comment cards with online guest questionnaires has been a “welcome change” for the teams at Portmeirion Village, explains Gareth: “It has also allowed us to spend less time processing data from our comment cards and more time addressing issues raised and improving service.”
“We assigned one member of the management team with oversight and each department is responsible for checking and responding to their own reviews,” he explains, “and we’re certainly getting better insight into the experience that we provide and what our customers value.”
Gareth believes that not only are the questionnaires a better solution for the teams, but also for the visitors to the village: “It shows our customers that their opinions are valued. Based on the number of responses we have been receiving, our customers are happy to provide feedback and want to tell us about their experience, and they can take their time and complete it when they feel like it, rather than while they are on holiday!”
The feedback that the teams are receiving has also helped Portmeirion’s management to pinpoint where improvements can be made to the experience that they provide. In one instance, Gareth explains, they were able to adjust their menu to accommodate more of their guests: “We realised based on the amount of feedback we were getting that we actually have a lot more vegan and vegetarian customers than we previously thought. This has led us to offer vegan and vegetarian menus as standard and not just by pre-arrangement.”
The feedback that the village has been getting also showed management that hotel guests prefer to be chauffeured from a main parking lot to their accommodation, rather than parking at the cottages themselves, a realisation that came as a surprise to Gareth: “We would've thought that the individual parking spaces would have been more valued by our customers. But knowing this means we can make the site safer and less cluttered with cars!”
Thanks to GuestRevu’s belief that no two properties are the same, and their openness to customising guest surveys, Portmeirion Village’s management are able to ask their visitors the questions that they need answers to in both English and their native Welsh.
“This was a new language for GuestRevu, one that didn't exist on their system, but they were really accommodating in adding this for us,” Gareth explains.
GuestRevu’s automated review collection has meant that the staff and management teams at Portmeirion Village no longer need to spend hours scrolling through review sites and online travel agencies to find out what their visitors think of them. Better still, GuestRevu’s Platinum Partnership with TripAdvisor has meant that they are not only saving time in collecting reviews, but finding themselves with more reviews to collect.
“We can see that our special offer clicks on Trip Advisor have increased by 98% and our Direct Referral Clicks have increased by 8%,” Gareth explains.
Where before the management teams at Portmeirion Village were finding it difficult to keep track of review responses and how they were being resolved, since introducing GuestRevu, management have found it far easier to keep track of who is responding to feedback, and how guests’ comments are being implemented.
“All of the department heads use the system,” explains Gareth. “Our Head of Marketing, Hotel Manager, Castle Manager, Restaurant Manager, Attraction Manager, Head of Housekeeping, Head of Maintenance, Reservations Manager and Spa Manager. This has allowed us to work better as a team, as everyone can see guest feedback and what steps are being taken to resolve or address any issues raised by guests.”