News for the Hospitality Executive
Measuring Your Hotel's Online Reputation By Service Attributes
February 15, 2010 - Your online reputation is the aggregate of
guest reviews posted online. And, this refers to more than a few travel
review sites. Guest reviews are posted on hundreds of travel review
websites and an equal or greater number of non-travel social websites
Our company provides, Chatter Guard the leading social media monitoring and reputation management service. We review thousands of review for hundreds of hotels. We provide a free national benchmark report based on J.D. Power’s hotel categories and summarizing guest review scores for reputation and the inclusive service attribute scores.
Your guests post reviews instead of responding to a survey or filling out a comment card because they want to reach out to future guests or to share their experience with friends and associates. Research tells us that overall the negative and positive reviews are about equal in number. Are some of these reviews false? The answer is yes. It could be a competitor or an unhappy employee or ex-employee. Some of the travel reviews do what they can to verify the reviews and they enable you to have them removed, but only if you can prove the comment is not from a valid source. The bottom line is that these reviews continue to multiply and the number of shoppers who rely on these reviews to make their hotel decisions will proliferate over the coming months.
Why is social media important to your hotel? Here again, research tells us that more than half of the online hotel shoppers combine social media reviews with their search engine use when looking for a hotel based on services, brand, location and other local factors. In the past an unhappy guest was generally an issue that could be resolved face-to-face between hotel management and the guest, no more. The guest has a way to leverage a complaint or share praise.
Is social media offset by expensive survey services or comment cards? These are a totally different method of guest feedback because they are controlled responses with limited multiple choice or true false responses. And, comment cards are controlled by the brand or it is a comment direct to the hotel and not the general public. Today, guests want to talk about their experience good or bad and share their travel experience on one or more social websites and blogs. What can you do about social media since it is a social statement, it is freedom of speech and it is viewed by more than half of your prospective guests?
You need to know your hotel’s online reputation because you are in the service business. If guests share negative or positive comments about your hotel online it can influence the decision of prospective guests. It is that simple! Will an occasional negative review hurt your business, unlikely? Will a trend of good or bad comments hurt or help your business, very likely.
We have found over the years guest reviews for North American hotels are found on a combination of about 45 to 50 websites and blogs. About half of these sites are travel review sites and the others are social media sites and blogs. You need to know what is said about your business across a wide spectrum of travel and non-travel websites and blogs because each site has its followers and the reviewers have their fans and followers.
Should you respond to guest reviews? Yes, of course, you need to respond, if for no other reason but to express your concern or appreciation for the guest’s comment. Your response needs to be brief, apologetic or appreciative and never go into raw detail online about the reviewer’s issues. Some of our client hotels will even track the reviewer by their reservations record and try to contact them by phone to address a negative comment where possible. When creating a method of posting your hotel’s responses online, keep in mind, there are only a couple travel review sites that allow a direct response to their reviewer. While non-travel social sites and blogs are generally open to response posts on the reviewer’s page. It really comes down to the value of your time, available resources and the necessary skills to provide a diplomatic response.
Some of the hotel brands now offer free monitoring services. These services and other limited services, aggregate reviews, some provide email notifications of the reviews they capture and provide summary reports. But, these services are generally limited to maybe 5 to 10 travel review sites. Just what every hotel needs another report. These services are providing nice to know information and more work for the hotel staff. With some of these services you have to go to the review sites to read the reviews and the scoring is skewed by each site’s scoring method. This type of service can actually create even more work for the hotel staff and offers no value and a very limited method of analyzing the overall results or the ability to sort reviews by source or service attributes as these attributes can vary within each hotel. These missing elements are important to help the hotelier analyze guest perception and how this information can be utilized. Actually, it is possible for anyone to setup RSS feeds from most of the leading travel review sites so you are notified when a review is posted, if all you want to do is read the reviews.
Some brands, in their effort to assist their hotels with travel reviews, are offering free review monitoring services similar to the limited service monitoring services that have always been available. Here again, to determine the value of these services and whether it is adequate for your hotel you need to consider your number of rooms, occupancy and location along with your services and amenities. A larger hotel in a major destination will likely have guests with a broader demographic and likelihood of social postings compared to a smaller hotel in a smaller city with a clear guest profile. Heavy leisure hotels will receive more reviews than a business hotel. More and more meeting attendees are posting reviews.
The important services needed to take control of your online reputation and utilize guest review information are (a) broad coverage of all travel and non-travel review and social postings and videos about your hotel (b) quick notification when the review is posted (c) a clear consistent method of scoring the service attributes and amenities described in each review (d) a system that determines your hotel’s online reputation based the services in each review using a single formula to measure based on the services in each review. Plus, based on time and resources, you may need assistance developing an efficient method of delivering effective response postings.
For information on how Lodging Interactive’s Chatter Guard service can help your hotel, please visit www.ChatterGuard.com or call 877-291-4411.
About Lodging Interactive
Lodging Interactive, headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, is a leading provider of Internet Marketing Services to the hospitality, spa and restaurant industries. The company provides a portfolio of effective hotel internet marketing services to hundreds of hotels, resorts, timeshares, spas and restaurants. Clients include branded hotels from nearly every major brand as well as prestigious, landmark independent hotels.
Through its CoMMingle Social Media Marketing Agency operating division, the Company offers hospitality focused and fully managed outsourced hotel social media marketing.
Lodging Interactive is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Associatiion (AHLA) and is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
For more information contact Richard Walsh, Vice President of Business Development at [email protected] or at 877-291-4411. The company’s website is located at www.LodgingInteractive.com.
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