The following is a post from Kristen Poillon, TIG Global Manager of Sales Operations.
With the rising popularity and attention being garnered by social media these days, it is hard to ignore its draw, as well as its significant impact on a business’s bottom-line. As hotel review sites continue to flourish, it becomes imperative for hoteliers to monitor and respond to the buzz about their property, but the question remains; how seriously are hotels taking this trend?
A recent survey, conducted by Market Metrix and TripAdvisor, illuminated the hotels perception of (and response to) the growing popularity of user-generated reviews and gauged their opinions and strategies.
The sample group included hotels registered on TripAdvisor, as well as a mix of hotels from all industry segments. The results were as follows:
-90% of hotel managers reported thinking that reviews are very important
-Approximately 81% visit review sites at least weekly (despite some question of review authenticity)
-Among all review sites, hotel managers believe that TripAdvisor has the biggest influence on their guests.
-After TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity (in that order) were also mentioned by hoteliers as important to their guests and how they make booking decisions.
-70% are familiar with TripAdvisor’s POPULARITY INDEX, which ranks the top hotels in a city (used by many consumers to quickly narrow their hotel search)
-90% of hotel managers believe that the POPULARITY INDEX is important to their hotel and follow their ranking regularly.
-Nearly half of hotels (46%) have seen their POPULARITY INDEX increase, while 42% report no change and 12% have seen their rank decline. (shifts were believed to be a change in service, rather than that of a product offering)
(Click here to read the original article)
It is evident that hoteliers comprehend the impact that user reviews have on their business, but despite these statistics, only 15% of hotels have policies or guidelines on how to manage user-generated reviews, and an alarming 85% of hotels have NO guidelines in place for monitoring, responding or acting on guest reviews.
The reasoning behind this lapse in attention stems from many reasons, including the rapid pace and demand of consistently monitoring user-generated content, or the lack of resources available internally to handle the constant demand of social media responsibilities.
According to a recent interview with Steve Kaufer, founder and CEO of Trip Advisor, the popular travel review site has nearly 25 million reviews and opinions on more than 490,000 hotels and attractions, more than 11 million registered members, and operates in 14 countries and 10 different languages. Additionally, they have more than 25 million monthly visitors to the site, and have acquired 13 other travel brands. In terms of influence, a May 2008 Jupiter consumer travel survey reported that 76 percent of people find reviews from like-minded people most useful.
Such staggering statistics speak for themselves and make a strong case for bridging the gap between hoteliers, travelers and hotel review sites. There is little room for disconnect, especially in such a trying economy. The following are some measures that hotels can take to harness the power of such sites:
-Manage Your Reputation-Whether or not you agree with the reviews that are out there, they are still being posted and read by potential guests, regardless. Monitor popular sites, such as TripAdvisor to learn what your customers are saying. Use this as a free customer service forum to respond to negative reviews and turn them into a positive experience.
-Utilize What Your Customers are Saying-When your customers have something bad to say, it often provides insight into service related or operational weaknesses. Pay attention to the gripes and use them to improve your customer service and satisfaction.
-Designate a Point-Person-This will help to manage the influx of reviews and maintain a consistent message. It is important to respond to customer comments in an honest and timely fashion. User-generated review sites tend to refresh at a rapid pace, so show that you are aware and attentive through timely interaction.
-Check-out Your Competitors-Poke around the site and see what it is your competitors are doing to receive rave reviews. This might give you ideas for special service touches that will wow your guests!
Want to learn more about enhancing your online reputation? TIG Global offers a full suite of social media and brand monitoring tools to get you started. Click here, or give us a call at 301-841-0507.