How to Extract the Right Insights From Your Hotel Reviews

By Jeff Catlin Co-Founder and CEO, Lexalytics, Inc | December 10, 2017

All the great societies of the world were made possible by a simple yet game-changing evolutionary leap: complex communication. From the first moment early humans grouped together, it was their ability to communicate and innovate that took us from the caves into gleaming towers of steel and glass that tickle the clouds. So, itís not just business that runs on communication, everything does.

The early days of the travel and leisure industry are more recent but nonetheless important. In days gone by the idea of traveling cross-country or across a continent was a life-and-death proposition. Through innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit, the travel and leisure industry has become the ambassadors of business across the globe. Yet, when your customers can be literally anyone in the world, how can anyone be expected to effectively understand what they are they are saying?

Social Media, a quantum leap in human connectivity and communication, has been fully accepted within the travel and leisure industry. Virtually all of the major hotel chains have active social media engagement programs designed to enhance the image or their brands and sniff out minor issues before they become major ones.

Weíve discussed how this works in previous articles so we wonít rehash any of that here. Instead, letís take a more detailed look at how social engagement should differ for the various brands within a hotel chain. Specifically, weíre going to examine how sentiment is not a universal measure, and that itís not only correct, but appropriate that sentiment for high end hotel chains will have a much larger variance (more really positive and really negative comments).

When looking at review content or tweets about your hotel chain itís normal to think that all tweets are created equal, but sadly thatís not the case. Itís pretty obvious and accepted that certain authors or publications carry a lot more weight with users than others. If a respected travel writer pens a strongly negative piece about a new hotel in South Beach it would almost certainly set off alarm bells at the property, but if my son wrote a blog post with the same sentiment on the same property, it might be read, but it wouldnít carry even remotely the same weight.

That some people have more clout than others has been a truism in marketing for generations, so letís remove the authors from the discussion and assume (incorrectly) that all tweets are created equal. In this utopian world weíd like to believe that the sentiment of a tweet or customer review can be scored on an equal scale regardless of the property being reviewed, but our research has shown that customer expectations play a huge role in peopleís sentiment about a property. Letís say our sentiment technology is capable of reading reviews and scoring it on a 1 to 10 scale, where 10 is great.

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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.