Text Mining in Hospitality

By Jeff Catlin Co-Founder and CEO, Lexalytics, Inc | August 16, 2015

As true as the idea is, I find this anthem frustrating: what does “listen better” really mean?

It’s not bad advice, but it represents a simplified version of the problem and provides an incomplete solution to an incomplete question. There are three questions that hospitality experts should be asking and answering:

  1. Who is talking about my services?
  2. What are they discussing?
  3. How are they feeling?

These questions — the who, what, and how — represent a more comprehensive understanding of the elements of customer satisfaction, and answering them in full will reveal a more complete picture. But listening to each individual customer is hard when you have thousands of reviews and comments to sort through. Manual analysis is time-consuming and carries many challenges and drawbacks.

To accurately hear your customers’ voices, you need the modern marvel that is automated text analytics. Today, I’ll explain why.

Online Reviews are a Big Deal

Let’s begin by agreeing that the Internet — and the reviews on it — are enormously influential. In 2013, Travel Weekly reported that TripAdvisor and Yelp claimed over 200 million and 39 million unique visitors each month, respectively — and in 2014, TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer survey found that 95% of United States travelers say that reviews influence their choice of hotels. An independent study commissioned by TripAdvisor a year earlier went even further, finding that 80% of travelers read at least 6-12 reviews before they choose a hotel; and still another survey indicated that for 29% of consumers, positive online reviews are the most important factor in their booking decision.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.