Text Mining in Hospitality

By Jeff Catlin Co-Founder and CEO, Lexalytics, Inc | August 16, 2015

As true as the idea is, I find this anthem frustrating: what does "listen better" really mean?

It's not bad advice, but it represents a simplified version of the problem and provides an incomplete solution to an incomplete question. There are three questions that hospitality experts should be asking and answering:

  1. Who is talking about my services?
  2. What are they discussing?
  3. How are they feeling?

These questions - the who, what, and how - represent a more comprehensive understanding of the elements of customer satisfaction, and answering them in full will reveal a more complete picture. But listening to each individual customer is hard when you have thousands of reviews and comments to sort through. Manual analysis is time-consuming and carries many challenges and drawbacks.

To accurately hear your customers' voices, you need the modern marvel that is automated text analytics. Today, I'll explain why.

Online Reviews are a Big Deal

Let's begin by agreeing that the Internet - and the reviews on it - are enormously influential. In 2013, Travel Weekly reported that TripAdvisor and Yelp claimed over 200 million and 39 million unique visitors each month, respectively - and in 2014, TripAdvisor's TripBarometer survey found that 95% of United States travelers say that reviews influence their choice of hotels. An independent study commissioned by TripAdvisor a year earlier went even further, finding that 80% of travelers read at least 6-12 reviews before they choose a hotel; and still another survey indicated that for 29% of consumers, positive online reviews are the most important factor in their booking decision.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.