The Future of How Travelers Evaluate Hotels

By Alan Young SVP Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, TrustYou | April 27, 2014

The Changing Review Landscape

Ten years ago, travelers had to base their booking decisions on traditional advertisements and marketing. This was the only available information to go off of when booking. Then, user-generated content came along and changed everything, introducing user-generated content to the travel industry. Travelers could turn to the opinions of their peers to get an inside look at what the hotel was really like.

Now, there are hundreds of platforms where travelers can write reviews and voice their opinions. These platforms are home to an abundance of content – hundreds of millions of reviews. Traveler reviews have rapidly become a highly influential element of the travel shopping process – they can inspire consumers to hit the "buy" button or quickly sour the view of a property. The explosion of travel review content has dramatically increased transparency and provided consumers with a wealth of detailed information about individual hotel properties worldwide.

Yet the proliferation of user-generated content has also created new challenges. Travelers have so much information at their fingertips that many have trouble making sense of it all. For hoteliers, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of the enormous volume of sentiments generated about their properties and even harder to anticipate or influence what travelers are reading.

According to an independent PhoCusWright study commissioned by TripAdvisor, 80% of travelers read at least 6-12 reviews before booking a hotel. While that may sound like a decent sampling, reading a handful of recent reviews for the average hotel often yields conflicting sentiments. While the "wisdom of the crowd" says that the truth will prevail, the way many travelers have traditionally used hotel reviews has made it easy for hotel shoppers to get the wrong idea. Even if the reviews are largely positive, they may do little to differentiate the property from other similar options. What's more, reading this many reviews is time consuming and tedious for the average traveler. Who has that much time to spend doing travel research?

In the context of this content overload, hoteliers, intermediaries and traveler review websites are all recognizing the need to provide travelers with tools to help them more quickly and effectively assess a property's value based on user-generated content. TrustYou's mission is to positively influence traveler's decisions – and to accomplish that goal we have developed technologies designed to help both travelers and travel companies make sense of the vast universe of online reviews and social media sentiments.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.