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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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.