Officially stars or diamonds for hotels and restaurant ratings come from only a handful of agencies. The star system was first implemented by the Forbes Travel Guide (originally the Mobil Travel Guide) in 1958. AAA uses a different system of diamonds. The higher your star/diamond, the better these publications consider your establishment. Businesses are evaluated based on service, product, and performance among other categories.
Other publications and websites allow customers to determine star ratings by determining the average among all customer reviews. You can see this method online with places like Amazon, Yelp, and Glassdoor. Both customer reviews and systems like Forbes and AAA have value to a business. If you offer high-end luxury accommodations or cuisine, then Forbes-style ratings can be very valuable to the well-being of your business by attracting a more refined clientele. For establishments catering to customers not wanting to pay through the nose for services or hospitality, customer ratings may be of more value.
How to Increase Customer Rankings
Social media can be a good friend or a crazed enemy in your effort to increase your customer ranking. But generally, if you offer a great product at a fair price, people will walk away happy. The trick is getting them to share their positive experience with others. Word of mouth is still the grapevine of choice for those hoping to get their name in the mix, but between Facebook and Twitter it’s now potentially much more powerful and far-reaching than ever before. Instagram is also a great vehicle since it is very photo-oriented. Make sure the food you serve looks great, encourage people to snap a picture and post to their social pages. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Implement that tried-and-true option of people leaving their business card in a jar. Offer a free meal for two or four from a weekly drawing. Business cards give you email addresses in most cases, so you can then add that information to your customer contact list and let them know about specials or upcoming deals to save money or keep them informed about events sponsored by your company. Don’t bother people a lot, but always include your website, Yelp page, or other site information and ask them to take a minute to share their experience.
If someone contacts you on one of your social media accounts, make sure you respond quickly, courteously, and with solutions if they’ve told you about a problem. It’s another chance for you to shine in their eyes, even if their original experience was not what they wanted. Let the world know you are open to change and to fixing problems when you learn of them.
Getting Better Official Rankings
Sometimes star ratings differ in meaning depending on where the rankings come from, but mostly you can go by the meanings all Germans publications use:
- 1 Star = Tourist
- 2 Stars = Standard
- 3 Stars = Comfort
- 4 Stars = First Class
- 5 stars = Luxury
Not every business wants 5 stars; that rating is gained and maintained with a great deal of ongoing effort and expense. Deciding how much your business wants to invest in prestige and what the ROI will be from the number of stars you desire should be your first step.
After making that decision, if you want to move from 1 star up to 3 stars, then research similar establishments which have 3-star ratings. Study what is different about what they do, compare it to how you run your business, and then start making the necessary changes. Know that it might take some time to work out the details.
All of that effort in social media, email campaigns, research, and improvement is part and parcel of public relations. By sharing positive reviews through social media, you can improve your reputation and open yourself up to even more positive comments.