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Post-Stay Survey Best Practices

By Alex Gaggioli, July 23, 2015

There are many ways to gauge guest satisfaction. Post-stay surveys are among the most helpful. Reviews on websites such as Tripadvisor are great, but often do not give enough consistent data to paint a full picture. Therefore, implementing a strategy when it comes to your post-stay surveys will benefit you and your property in the long run.

Consumers are bombarded by surveys, so it is important to use best practices when building your own.

7 Tips to Create Better Surveys

A hotelier is ready to create an engaging survey for his/her past guests

1. Keep it short. We suggest keeping your survey to one page. If your survey is multiple pages and the survey taker senses it will take a long time, they will likely abandon it. There is no perfect number of survey questions, so you will likely need to test different survey lengths.

Research Access conducted a study on ideal survey length. They found that survey completion has more to do with the perceived difficulty and design, rather than length. Survey type determines ideal survey length. They found that 12 easy questions had a completion rate of 93%, as opposed to 36 difficult questions which had a 76% completion rate.

2. Make it personal. When reaching out to guests, reference them by name. I just recently received an email request from the actual customer service agent I interacted with and felt much more inclined to take the survey. Automated messages are impersonal and often go unnoticed. When forced to use automated emails for the sake of practicality, always address them by name, and make the email conversational.

3. Keep it simple. Designing questions is one of the biggest hurdles when designing a survey. Each question should get one response, meaning only ask one question per response bracket.

Here is an example of what to avoid:

How satisfied were you with the check-in process and the hotel’s amenities?

Now, if guests respond that they were “moderately” satisfied, what do those responses actually mean? Do they mean that both the check-in process and the hotel amenities were moderately satisfying? Or do they mean that the check-in process was very satisfying and the hotel amenities were unsatisfying? To avoid confusion break the question into two pieces, like so:

How satisfied were you with the check-in process?

How satisfied were you with the hotel’s amenities?

Now that the question is broken up into separate clear questions, the respondent will have an easier time answering, and the answers will be more straightforward.

4. Avoid biased or leading questions. Writing your questions that leads the respondent towards one answer over another will bias your results. For example:

Our front desk agents are the most friendly in the industry. How friendly were the front desk agents during the check-in process?

This question has obvious bias. It leads the respondent to answer positively to the question, although he/she may have had another experience. Instead, take out your own opinions.

On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with the friendliness of our front desk agents?

Now the question is much less biased because it does not assume that the guests was satisfied with the front desk agents’ friendliness. It is usually impossible to be completely unbiased, but revising questions and using positive or negative words sparingly will help.

SurveyMonkey suggests writing questions that are both positive and negative to get the most accurate responses. For example:

Typically, how friendly are our front desk agents?

Typically, how agitated were you with our front desk agents during the check-in process?

When you balance out positive and negative questions, it gives your guests the opportunity to express how they really felt about their stay. We do not suggest having a positive and negative framed version of every question. Instead, you should positively and negatively frame different questions throughout the survey. It is impossible to create a 100% unbiased survey, but using these tips will help alleviate the biases.

5. Keep it relevant. 4Hoteliers suggests using question logic in order to asks guests questions about the parts of the hotel they experienced. Keep questions relevant and guests will be less likely to abandon your survey.

Question logic refers to a function in many survey building platforms that allows a question to becomes available to a respondent if they answer yes or no to a previous question. For example, if you were asking about a guest’s experience with remote check-in, you can do something like this:

Did you utilize the remote check-in feature via our website?

If the respondent answers ‘yes’, he/she will be allowed to answer a question specifically pertaining to his experience with this feature. But if the respondent answers ‘no’, he/she will simply be taken to the next question.

6. Question variety. Use a wide variety of questions such as multiple choice, Likert scale, sliding scale (how satisfied were you on a scale of 1-5), yes/no questions, and open-ended questions.

Including a mixture of different types of questions will break up the survey and make it easier for respondents to finish.

On sliding scale or Likert scale, it is best to use odd numbers so that there is a neutral option. If, for example, you presented the question below, someone cannot agree nor disagree that the grass is green. The respondent must pick a side and may bias the results.

Example of what not to do with a scale question in a surveyInstead, include an odd number of responses that allow a respondent a neutral option.Example of a correct survey question

Allow for an open-ended response at the end to allow for added comments and concerns. This will allow guests to share anything that the survey did not address.

7. Demographics. Place demographics questions such as age, gender, income, marital status, race, etc. at the end of the survey. Studies show that when demographics are placed at the beginning of a survey, they significantly bias the results of the respondent.

Follow these 7 tips to create more engaging, unbiased surveys. Keep surveys short, simple, and to the point. Always thank guests for filling out your survey and maybe even offer them an incentive to do so. Accurate customer feedback will help you identify areas for improvement, as well as areas of excellence.

We have included some online survey builders below that you can utilize to build a great survey.

Survey building websites:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/

https://www.google.com/forms/about/

http://www.qualtrics.com/

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