The Evolution of the Review

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | October 08, 2017

While it’s unlikely that Mary and Joseph left a scathing TripAdvisor review after being turned away at the Inn in Bethlehem, hotel reviews have been around, in various forms, since the first hotel opened its doors. As with many other human activities (relationships, journalism/information sharing, etc), “reviews” have become digital. And like those other activities, entire ecosystems have sprung up to support this new channel.

How We Got Here

We’ll skip beyond the first form of feedback, word-of-mouth, quickly. It’s fairly obvious that customers who had a great experience (or a lousy one) at a property would tell their friends about it. These data points are virtually impossible for hotels to track and understand. One interesting thing to point out, however, is that the question of “would you recommend the hotel?” has become one of the major markers for whether or not a hotel is doing well. This question is at the heart of the Net Promoter Score.

However, in addition to discussions in which they weren’t privy, hotels spent years soliciting feedback on guest experiences, usually through direct mail or phone. Response rates for these initiatives were generally low, as is true of nearly all direct mail and outbound telemarketing. Comment cards were also among the early forms of feedback gathering. Data gathered from these initiatives was better than nothing at all, but also had a few major challenges. First of all, it was very difficult to track or share in meaningful ways. If a manager at a particular hotel didn’t want to share feedback from each guest’s stay, they would simply hold onto the data (or throw it in the trash). In the cases where info was sent to a corporate office, there could be considerable lag time between the time period when a guest stayed, and when the information was shared with a hotel.

Today’s Review Ecosystem

Let’s fast forward a few dozen years, to a time when Amazon was among the first companies to allow reviews to show up in product search. While it’s commonplace today, the decision to let anyone post their views on a particular product was quite forward thinking.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.