Social Media & Review Management Trends for Hotels in 2012

By R.J. Friedlander Founder & CEO, ReviewPro | February 19, 2012

In many ways, 2011 was the year reviews and social media went mainstream within the hotel industry – becoming nearly universally embraced by hotel executives as both a key source of customer insight and a tool to achieve operational and service excellence and to drive revenue growth. From my perspective, as founder and CEO of a company that is leading change in the way hotels leverage and benefit from the social web, I would like to share the top trends I see in this area in 2012.

Short-format and mobile reviews will become increasingly common

While written reviews began as the standard in travel planning websites, the rapid rise of social networking and mobile communications has lead to short-format and mobile reviews becoming increasingly important. I may not have time to write a 3-paragraph review of a hotel or restaurant, but I can quickly send a tweet or leave a Foursquare tip about a place while I'm waiting for a cab or in line to check out of my room.

It's important to recognize the importance of these short-format pieces of feedback within your online reputation management initiative. When the author of one of these messages has a large online following - or a high Klout score - the number of people that could be influenced by that piece of feedback can be very large.

Don't make the all-too common mistake of ignoring Facebook comments, Foursquare tips and tweets as a source of valuable operational and marketing insight. While many executives understand these pieces of feedback play an important role in customer service and reputation management, all this data in aggregate provides a rich source of business, market, and customer intelligence.

The profile of the reviewer becomes important

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.