Consumer Reviews in the Digital Age: How to Drive Incremental Revenue From Your Guest’s Feedback

By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | October 20, 2013

Adapted from content provided by Kelly A. McGuire, PhD., Executive Director, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS and Natalie Osborn Senior Industry Consultant, Hospitality & Travel Global Practice for SAS.

All good hoteliers understand the value of listening to their guests. From hearing what they think of new promotions, to décor and interaction with key customer-facing staff members – opinions of guests are powerful tools and can help align a hotel’s offering with its target customers. In the digital age guest feedback is becoming even more important, as recent research suggests that not only does social media have a relationship with lodging performance, but that it also impacts the behavior of consumers. Hoteliers need to make sure they are not only asking their guests for feedback in the traditional manner, though guest surveys to help improve a properties offering, services, but they also need to monitor social media for unsolicited feedback through reviews and ratings so that they can help determine their property’s pricing power and pricing strategies in the future.

The Importance of Traditional Guest Feedback

It’s easy to get excited about the huge potential social media offers; however, traditional guest survey mechanisms are still important. This is because they ask guests questions about specific items they may not think to mention in tweets, Facebook posts, ratings and reviews. For example, a hotel may want to gain specific feedback on a newly launched service experience, such as a new day spa, to gain insights into how this can be improved and how well it is being received by customers. Or it may want to assess whether specific service experiences, such as speed of service or customer service, are improving or declining, or gain feedback on how current service experiences are being interpreted by the guests to help shape ideas for new service experiences. For example, gauging the satisfaction of the current room service offering, and whether it needs to be improved. To gain these kinds of insights, hotels must ask specific questions, to gain this invaluable feedback.

But as well as making sure the right questions are being asked, it’s also important they are asked at the right time. For timely and accurate feedback, it is important to solicit feedback from guests at the point of experience. Generally hotels will get a better range and quality of feedback if they ask for feedback during the guests service experience or immediately after, such as at the end of the meal in the restaurant, or by placing a feedback form on the room service tray for return with the tray, or during the spa treatment, versus waiting for a few days after the guest checks-out before sending them a survey. Often the only guests who respond to the two days later survey are those that are “extremely satisfied” or “extremely dissatisfied”. Asking for feedback at the point of experience will give you a better range of feedback between these two extremes.

The Rise of Unsolicited Guest Feedback through Social Media, Ratings and Reviews

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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.