Your Guests are Talking About You on Social Media. Are You Listening?

By Bernard Perrine CEO & Co-Founder, SocialCentiv | July 26, 2015

The Internet has changed the way many travelers choose and evaluate hotels. Is your business changing as well?

As recently as the early 2000s, guests often used the room rates a given hotel charged as an indication of that property’s quality or value. But a scholarly study published in February 2013 found consumers were placing a far greater emphasis on a very different barometer: so-called “user-generated content” – notably online reviews of hotels from other travelers.

“Reviews are the most powerful value indicator for consumers,” noted one of the study’s authors, Kelly McGuire, in a subsequent blog post. “Our research overwhelmingly indicated that consumers look to the reviews over aggregate ratings to form quality and value perceptions … (And) in the presence of ratings and reviews, consumers do not use price as an indication of quality.”

Although the reviews consumers use are most commonly located on travel sites such as TripAdvisor, the growth of importance of user-generated content in their decision making highlights a key online arena that helps sway where they stay during travel: social media.

In one survey, 52 percent of respondents reported altering travel plans (with 33 percent changing hotels) at least partly because of research they had done on social media. Seeing friends’ holiday photos influences the vacation choices of 52 percent of Facebook users, according to Social Times.

With social media buzz being so vital in travel choices, it’s more important than ever for hotel companies to monitor what people are saying about them on sites like Facebook and Twitter. This checking process, called “social listening,” not only helps hoteliers turn people who make positive comments into brand ambassadors, but also aides in discovering and promptly responding to cyber criticisms.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.