Turning Customer Intelligence into Competitive Intelligence

By Ashish Gambhir Co-founder , newBrandAnalytics | March 25, 2012


In today's socially connected, consumer-led world, there are few sources that are more effective at helping companies gather competitor information than social media. Social Business Intelligence, a methodology to make sense of unstructured feedback on the web, enables organizations to capture competitor performance, as defined by customers online, and analyze it to realize a clear and timely understanding of competitor strengths, weaknesses, and initiatives.

Most hotel companies are assessing what their guests are saying online. Clearly, the value is being realized as Aberdeen Research reveals that Best-in-Class organizations that engage in social media monitoring and analysis activities are three times more likely than the industry average companies, and 82 times more likely than the industry laggards, to improve their ability to identify and reduce risks to the brand. Online feedback provides uncensored, and mainly unsolicited, insight into what guests like and dislike about their experience. From posts on TripAdvisor and Facebook to tweets and check-ins, the continuous sharing of experiences and recommendations creates a treasure-trove of data from which to glean true and real-time customer intelligence.

In addition to the intelligence social media provides about one's property or brand, the unsolicited data source provides an unparalleled opportunity to extract competitive intelligence. As management guru Peter F. Drucker is quoted as saying, "Knowedge has become the key economic resource and the dominant, if not the only, source of competitive advantage." Unfortunately, research is showing that most companies are not taking advantage of the rich competitive knowledge and insight inherent in online customer feedback: The Wanderlust Travel Marketing Trends Report 2011 found only 25% of respondents monitor competitors and analyze results; 68% monitor competitors occasionally but don't analyze results, and 13% don't monitor competitors at all.

Savvy organizations have long used competitive intelligence to understand competitor strategies in order to make forward-looking decisions. For example, it's reported that Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, determined strategy based on key intelligence questions:

  • What is the detailed global position of your business and that of your competitors: market shares, strengths by product line, and by region today?

  • What actions have your competitors taken in the past two years that have changed the competitive landscape?

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.