Thank you everyone for joining us for our webinar yesterday. Also, we'd like to say a special thank you to buuteeq for co-hosting the session with us. In case you missed the webinar, here is a recording of the presentation, a copy of the deck used and a compilation of Twitter notes.
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Just a few years ago, hotels relied on a manager’s close watch and traditional guest satisfaction surveys to uncover which employees made a difference in a guest’s stay. Today, with the popularity of reviews and social media, employees that go the extra mile are easily surfaced in guest comments and in social media posts. Because of the transparency of online reviews, hotel staff is more aware of their impact on guest satisfaction and many hotels are experiencing a surge of great service.
Unlike traditional satisfaction surveys, online review sites and OTAs allow consumers to write free-form reviews, rather than requiring them to rate topics most important to the hotel. As a result, consumer reviews tend to be about the topics most important to them. When it comes to positive reviews, guests tend to write about the staff-members that exceeded their expectations. For example, I recently wrote a 5-star review for W Hollywood and said, “If you’re used to great service, you won’t be disappointed at this hotel. A special shout out to Zachary, the concierge, who is amazing at his job.”
In many morning stand-up meetings, General Managers are recognizing these employees in front of their peers and applauding their work. Human Resource Directors are printing and taping up online reviews that mention staff members by name or title in back rooms. And, spot bonuses or rewards are often provided as extra incentive to line employees who go the extra mile and are written about when guests share their experiences online.
While not typically described as adaptive to change, the hospitality industry has done a tremendous job adopting this new method of guest feedback. Online review sites were originally created as a consumer platform for sharing travel experiences but today are being used by savvy hoteliers to uncover great performance and areas for operational improvement.
Entire companies, like Revinate, have been created to make the analysis of online reviews as simple and user-friendly as possible. Using sentiment analysis technology, hoteliers can drill down into dozens of categories and related topics to isolate just the snippet of a review that discusses a certain topic, such as housekeeping, check-in, or spa. Drilling down into the details is critical since overall review scores only help you understand overall guest sentiment. But while a guest might give your hotel four stars and be satisfied overall with his experience, he might have been disappointed by the laundry service and valet. When you spend the time to understand what guests don’t like, you have the opportunity to improve your business and improve your ratings, which we know thanks to a Cornell University study released in November, 2012, effect bookings.
And, when it comes to employee performance, no tool is as useful to a GM than sentiment analysis for holding departments accountable for performance and ensuring departments are recognized for great service. In addition to being able to set goals around the percentage of positive mentions, sentiment analysis allows management to see trends and whether operational changes are making a difference in the eyes of guests. And, since most people write reviews shortly after their stay and analysis is done in real-time, you can measure success in real time, which is quite a change from the days of traditional guest surveys.
If you haven’t yet created a culture of caring about online reviews at your hotel, there’s no time like the present to begin. Online reviews are free to access, sentiment analysis tools pay for themselves in time saved, and when employees know reviews are being closely watched at the management and brand level, you are sure to see an uptick in warm smiles, attentive gestures and personnel that go the extra mile.
This week, TripAdvisor announced new property dashboard features, which are available to all business-listing subscribers. According to TripAdvisor, the property dashboard, accessible via TripAdvisor’s Management Center, “highlights the key metrics you need to measure your property’s day-to-day performance,” including competitor metrics, local market trends, cumulative page views and more. The review site published an extensive guide on this new functionality, which is worth a read.
What we find most valuable about the new property dashboard is the additional insight into your page visitors that it provides. This information should not only inform your special offer strategies for the site, but it provides hard data when evaluating your online reputation management and distribution efforts. As social marketing and revenue management converge, review site data will mutually benefit everyone’s revenue optimization efforts. Here are some property dashboard highlights:
Visits to Page: This report allows you to analyze traffic to your page over time. With the influence of TripAdvisor in the booking process, this data will allow you to see which periods of the year see higher bookings driven by TripAdvisor, compare performance from one period to the next, and benchmark traffic changes after a listing change has been made. It’s important to note that if your property doesn’t meet the requisite review threshold, the report won’t be available.
Your Visitors: This data offers demographic information about visitors to your listing. This intelligence can help you better identify your target market, create a special offer that is more relevant to your audience, and determine the average length of stay of your guests.
Your Competitors: This overview provides a comparison look of your business listing versus your competitors. This perspective allows you to see how your special offers and photos compare to other properties in your competitive set. TripAdvisor defines your comp set as the two properties above you on the Popularity Index and the one below you.
Your City: This report shows you the number of TripAdvisor visitors researching your location each week. This information is useful because, by comparing your ‘visits to page’ data with ‘your city’ statistics, you can determine your property’s virtual market share of search.
Snapshot: This final report provides you with very basic, high-level information about your hotel’s business listing – total number of reviews and management responses as well as overall ranking and rating. For a more granular look at review volume, ranking and sentiment, Revinate customers should rely on Revinate’s online reputation dashboard.
As a proud TripAdvisor partner, we applaud TripAdvisor’s release and know that it will provide a lot of value to business-listing customers. While TripAdvisor is the largest review site, hotels must pay attention to all reviews submitted by travelers. Accordingly, Revinate allows hoteliers to access and analyze comprehensive review data across dozens of review sites and OTAs. Clients have access to in-depth analytics about their properties and self-defined competitive sets. Revinate customers also benefit from accessing sentiment analysis reports, which segment and score specific review topics (e.g. housekeeping) and benchmark those scores against each competitor. Nevertheless, TripAdvisor’s new dashboard is a useful tool in the hotelier’s toolbox and, when used in conjunction with Revinate, can make online reputation management even easier.
The part of my job that I cherish the most is talking to hoteliers about their experiences with social media and online review sites. Because I have always been a prolific review writer and reader, I love to see the other side of the coin and I often marvel at how a consumer platform has become such a powerful source of information for businesses.
Today, a client who recently saw me speak at a conference about responding to reviews came to me with a challenging problem. He wrote:
I have a guest who was highly intoxicated upon departure (and during the stay) even making some lewd remarks to our Front Desk Staff. Upon departure, he did not check out, but rather walked away. During the room check, we found that a hairdryer was missing from the room so the guest was charged for this item.
You mentioned that I can inform TripAdvisor of guest names if they threaten to write a bad review, as a form of blackmail. This guest said that he will write a bad review if we do not refund the money. I looked for it on Tripadvisor, but couldn’t find it. Can you please advise me? Also, if he does write a review, are we allowed to say that he was “highly intoxicated upon departure?
First, I want to let you know that I rarely hear about cases of blackmail. But, the good news is that TripAdvisor does allow hotels to report anticipated blackmail and you can always petition to have the review removed.
Since you don't want a negative review at the top of your page without a response, I also suggest you respond honestly. The beauty of TripAdvisor is that you get the last word and people visiting the site are often smart enough to understand what is being said between the lines. Here is my suggested response:
While we read every review and take all genuine feedback seriously, on rare occasions we do receive reviews that we know are not written with the intention of sharing real experiences with other travelers. This review was written by a guest that threatened he would write a bad review if we didn't remove legitimate charges from his bill. We have alerted TripAdvisor and while we are disappointed that this issue couldn't be resolved while he was on site, we believe in the power of TripAdvisor to inspire great travel and wanted to set the record straight. We do aim to have every guest leave happy and are sorry that we couldn't please this guest.
My goal was to stay level-headed and professional, show future guests that the hotel takes feedback seriously, but also explain why the feedback wasn't fair. Let me know your thoughts below!
Last week a link to the web page on the left was sent around the office. My immediate reaction was, "Ouch - how humiliating for the business." As a marketer, I immediately identified more with Fitness SF than with the Web shop seeking to be paid, although I also understand the frustration of not being paid for services rendered. The damage didn't end on the Fitness SF site. In fact, many people took to Yelp to continue the harrassment, giving the gym a 1 star rating and explaining that it doesn't pay its bills. As of today, the gym has an average rating of two stars. Prior to the Web page controversy, the gym regularly received four and five stars for great service and equipment.
What this example highlights is the power that the Web gives anyone to damage the reputation of a person or a business. Hoteliers are not impervious to internet blackmail. In fact, there is the potential of blackmail every time a guest has an issue and leaves unhappy, although for most, morals will overide the need for vengeance.
As we reported last month, TripAdvisor recently announced that it is stepping in and helping hoteliers who think they might be the victim of blackmail. Hoteliers who fear that a guest is going to write a bad review as payback for not giving him something for free, for example, can log into the owners center and use the 'report blackmail' form to explain the situation. By providing as many details as possible about the guest, TripAdvisor will be on alert for the review and will not post anything from that guest.
Obviously, the best way to avoid internet blackmail is to try to resolve guests' issues before they leave the property. If a guest has a legitimate grievance, make sure that you apologize, both when speaking to him and again via a card sent to his room. Most people recognize that everyone makes mistakes and a sincere apology can go a long way. If not, use your discretion with providing more.
Create a policy for grievances, detailing every issue that you can think of and what you can offer as remediation as a first step and then as a final step if the guest doesn't accept the first offer. Perhaps a free breakfast or drinks would help. Or maybe you can move him to an upgraded room. Then, make sure to ask if he is satisfied with your action. Once the guest says that he is satisfied, you can assume that he won't take it further. If he says that he is not satisfied, ask him what will satisfy him. Most people are too embarrassed to ask for more than they deserve.
But, if the guest does shoot for the stars, you can respond that you really want to ensure that he leaves happy, but you need to make sure that the hotel's response is in line with the seriousness of the grievance and there are policies in place to ensure that guests don't take advantage of the customer-service policy. If this is a repeat visitor or loyalty member with a legitimate issue, you might want to cave a bit more than a first-time guest. But if you sense that this guest will never be happy, report him to TripAdvisor and actively monitor your reviews across all review sites and OTAs in case it pops up. If it does appear on a different review site or OTA, respond to the review, if allowed by the site, apologizing again for not meeting his expectations and explaining that you did everything to try to meet his needs on site and regret that there was nothing you could do to satisfy him, short of giving him a free stay. Others reading the response will be smart enough to understand the situation. Then, make sure that you receive a flurry of great new reviews to push this one down the page.
Earlier today, we kicked off our 2013 webinar series with our first Reviews and Online Reputation 101 session focused on how to expertly practice proactive and reactive reputation management in the hospitality space. If you missed the session, you can view the presentation, listen to the recording and sign up for additional upcoming webinars here.
During the webinar, we received a lot of great feedback and questions from the audience. One specific question that deserves a detailed response regarded which review sites allowed management responses. At Revinate, we're always paying very close attention to the ever-evolving policies for each travel review site - which sites allow public management responses, which sites allow private ones, and so forth. While not every review site's procedure for review replies is as user-friendly or intuitive as it could be, we'll always make sure that we make it as easy as possible for you to respond within Revinate.
As a Revinate customer, you have the ability within the dashboard to take action on incoming reviews and create some form of review response. In order to use this reply function in Revinate, you will first need to claim and create your Business Owner profile with each site. Once you have obtained your login credentials from the sites, you can start responding to your reviews with the help of our Review Response Assistant!
But what does this process look like for each review site, and how do you go about obtaining said credentials? Rest assured, our rockstar Client Services & Support team is here to answer these questions:
Happy second #WebWednesday of the month to you all Revination! We hope your New Year is off to a flying start. Our year certainly has begun with a bang as we ready ourselves to both hit the road the next couple of months and also put on a series of webinars focusing on social media engagement and online reputation management. In the social space as a company, we've also begun a new series - "What's #Trending at Revinate" - that spotlights some creative ways our customers are using the Revinate social media dashboard. Next week, we'll go one step futher and reveal which hotels have been honored with a Revinate Hotel of the Year Award!
This week's roundup of must-read articles focuses on social media tactics to focus on when putting together your engagement strategies for the year. We hope you enjoy this brief but rich catch-up reading, and be sure to check back tomorrow for our story on how to drive social media engagement by learning from customer loyalty programs.
Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet to Increase Interaction via LinchpinSEO.com
10 Ways to Encourage Customer Reviews Online via econsultancy.com
The Smart Hotelier’s 2013 Top Ten Digital Marketing Resolutions via HospitalityNet.org
100 Social Networking Statistics & Facts for 2012 via Visual.ly
Social Travel Apps Thrive as App Store Hits 40 Billion Downloads via SocialTimes.com
We've all been there before. As the resident social media, public relations, guest services or reputation manager for your respective hotel, there is a requisite, time-sensitive (and time-consuming) responsibility to address and respond to the majority of consumer reviews that come flooding in about your property. In most cases, this process demands first scanning the review for specific feedback to address, then liaising with your operations team to clarify any additional feedback to include in your review response, and finally laboring over the perfect response to publish which, by its very nature, can become repetitive and fairly standardized in parts. After all, there are only so many inventive ways to thank a past guest for contributing a review on xyz review site.
If you've parterned with Revinate, you already know that the scanning and liasing steps to this review response process are easily accomplished by utilizing Revinate's
'Actions' tab on the dashboard. Excitingly, we have taken the assistance one step further by launching a new feature that makes that final, time-consuming step of response creation just a bit easier.
Revinate's new Response Templates is a core feature of the new Response Assistant, now available to customers. With these Response Templates, Reinate Administrators can now load response templates into their Revinate accounts, which not only helps their respective teams follow brand guidelines with management responses but also saves valuable time. These templates are:
Once a few of these Response Templates are prepared and available for users, our Review Assistant toolbar seamlessly guides Revinate users through the process of selecting the right template for each respective review and also alerts our review tracking system once the review is posted in real-time so that you, as the user, know which reviews have been responded to even before the response is posted publicly by the review site. With many review sites taking several days or even weeks to post a management response, this new "Responded To" feature within the Review Assistant will significantly improve your workflow and efficiency when it comes to reputation management.
While we cannot understate the time-saving value the Review Assistant will afford, these new product features, particularly the Review Templates, will not replace the requisite need for crafting customized management responses to reviews. As we've written many times before about responding to online reviews, a completely cut-and-pasted public response will only make your customers less likely to book. Consequently, employ the Review Assistant features for exactly what they are: aids to your reputation management efforts.
Today we hosted a webinar on how leveraging online reviews and social media can help hotel operators capture more information about customers than ever before and use that information to improve hotel operations. For those of you who missed the session, we have a recording ready and waiting for you, as well as some key pointers and takeaways below. To watch the webinar at your convenience, please click here.
Why is Online Review Data Critical for Operations?
Hotels and restaurants that sign up with Revinate have taken the first step towards managing their online reputations. But the real benefit is using the data that Revinate's technology solution provides to make operational improvements and base critical decisions on.
Online review data is critical for operations for four reasons. First, it is the best source of free, readily accessible, real time data about your property. Second, the data's public nature means that it influences other peoples' purchase decisions so offering services and amenities that guests love and write about will drive sales as more and more people visit online review sites to validate decisions prior to booking. Third, with sentiment analysis you can pinpoint what guests love and don't love about your property and identify where you might need to dedicate more resources. Finally, the close analysis of online reviews allows you to make better decisions because it’s based on voice of the customer data, making guest satisfaction decisions from large capital improvements to small service-level changes easier for you to determine.
Why is Sentiment Analysis More Effective Than Traditional Satisfaction Surveys?
Many of you might think that the benefits listed above sound very similar to those of traditional guest satisfaction surveys. While we definitely see value in soliciting guests for feedback, we think that online review analysis is the next generation of guest satisfaction for a few reason.
First, closed-ended questions, such as “please rate your satisfaction with the amenities in your room on a scale of 1 to 10,” will not yield specific data about what a customer liked or disliked about his room-based amenities. With traditional surveys, only a small number of questions can be asked of each customer in order to keep response rates high, which is inherently constricting. Moreover, survey questions only focus on areas hotels feel need to be measured, which can lead to missed topics that are actually more important to customers. Finally, in a "please tell us if we met your expectations" closed-ended survey scenario, a hotel that you have already stayed at and you know offers incredible levels of service may score lower (e.g. they might "meet your expectation" - you expected great service and received it) than a hotel you had never stayed in and delivered amazing service (e.g. they "exceeded your expectations" - you had no expectations and were delighted). In an open-ended online review survey, this problem is averted, as the guest would attest to the amazing service regardless and have room to offer more detailed, specific feedback.
Online review feedback can be analyzed and measured through sentiment analysis technology, giving hotel managers a variety of ways to track customer preferences. A major advantage to online review analysis is that you can delve into the data of a sentiment analysis tool any time, rather than having to craft a question on a survey and then wait for a response. For example, a traditional survey question about guest room amenities may provide a level of satisfaction from 1 to 10. But an analysis of customer sentiment about guest room amenities becomes a great way to learn highly specific preference information. For example, Revinate’s sentiment analysis tool can show sentiment about amenities in over ten detailed categories, allowing you to precisely identify what guests love and whether there are issues that might need immediate attention.
Management does not have to look far to identify hot button customer issues when looking at sentiment analysis data. For example, if a property finds a room odor problem through analysis of reviews and then invests in a new carpet cleaning service, they will want to measure a return. Depending on the frequency of reviews, they may see improvement in room sentiment scores in as little as a few days to a week. Revinate’s sentiment analysis tool provides search capability for words like “odor” and “carpets” to read specific reviews that mention these terms. With traditional guest satisfaction surveys, it would be necessary to change the survey, add an odor question, test it, wait for sufficient responses, and then report the results. The issue with asking such a detailed question on a survey is that you may introduce question bias as customers think hard about the smell in the room, when they might not have flagged it as an issue to begin with. If they were only slightly dissatisfied with odor they might answer that it was a big issue because the question brought it to their attention. With sentiment analysis, you only see the results of reviews where guests brought the odor issue into the discussion, so their insights are more genuine.
Sentiment analysis can also help hoteliers identify trends across time. A recent Revinate customer began highlighting sentiment analysis information about staff service levels in their property-wide staff meetings. By having detailed information about service levels by department and sharing that information with the staff, they were able to see significant gains in customer satisfaction. By showing increases in guest satisfaction with staff month by month, the management was able to see the trend continue as more employees could see the outcome of their increased satisfaction focus. This customer moved their service sentiment scores from 73% to 82% positive satisfaction and received a healthy bump in positive reviews as well.
How Can Online Reputation Data Incentivize Better Staff Performance?
Using sentiment analysis to determine compensation for hotel managers is another way to improve operations. Sentiment information can yield very specific details about service elements and can improve the influence that performance plans have on management. Unlike surveys, data is available quickly and inputs from customers are open-ended and unbiased. Compensation structures can focus on monthly or quarterly results and ensure positive attention to service issues more quickly. In addition, because sentiment information is so specific, plans can be designed to measure areas of weakness in a manager’s otherwise strong departmental performance. Tying compensation plans to reviews is not a new trend and reflects the importance of reputation management for hotels today. However, the level of detail provided by sentiment analysis means that every service department from housekeeping to food and beverage can now be incentivized individually.
The Bottom Line
Contained in public reviews and social media is a goldmine of information about your hotel, your competitors, and your customers. One of the biggest benefits is a solid understanding of what will delight your customers and this can translate into more profit. A Revinate client in Mexico used sentiment analysis and reviews to learn what amenities would sell the best at their hotel. Rather than engage in time-consuming and expensive trial and error, they were able to comb reviews for suggested service enhancements. These amenities led to more incremental revenue, more positive reviews, and greater popularity. Simply put, social media and review data through sentiment analysis can show management the best places to allocate investment resources to have the largest impact on guest satisfaction. Smarter spending leads to greater profits.
To watch the entire recording of our webinar at your convenience, please click here.