Increase Your Brand Reputation by Listening to Social Content

By Jeff Catlin Co-Founder and CEO, Lexalytics, Inc | September 27, 2015

Your brand reputation translates directly into higher revenue, and nowhere is brand reputation influenced more than online. What is important to understand is that reviews are only one place where brand and experiences are being shared.Get too focused on them, and you miss the off-the-cuff tweet about a great meal, or a complaint to friends about a bed that's too hard, or a pool that needs some work.

This social currency, online reputation, directly influences a hotelier's sales volume: good reputation, higher sales - poor reputation, lower sales. The upshot is that in the hospitality industry, increasing your reputation (and revenue) means listening to social content and basing your business decisions on the feedback you receive from guests. And I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but remember that good reputation isn't just for high-end establishments. There's a lot to be said for value for money, and smaller, more modest establishments can often gain the most from careful management of their online reputation.

An article recently featured on Customer Experience Report encourages a focus on Return on Experience, rather than Return on Investment. This customer-centric viewpoint represents an excellent perspective to adopt; the genesis of any revenue increase is found in an upswing in customer satisfaction, and that satisfaction culminates from favorable experiences with your brand. Depending on your brand, and the "emotional expectations" of your brand, you may just need to ensure that everything is in order, or you may be called on to make this a truly special, personalize experience.

How, then, should you accomplish this? In an earlier article I discussed big data and text mining, and their myriad applications to the hospitality industry: for Customer Experience Management (CEM), text mining is the first step. The Internet is an ocean of information, and text mining tools are the trawlers whose nets gather what's relevant to your enterprise so you can act upon it. First and foremost in any CEM solution, you must hear; you can't expect to make informed decisions without first hearing from your customers. Along with the standard "review card at the front desk" – encourage your guests to tweet. Give them an @handle or hashtag to use. You can have fun with this - #summerstay or something topical. It is important, though, to make sure that if you have an @handle for them to talk to, that you actually do respond to questions and comments that come across Twitter.

As the buzz and budget permits, implement a Social Media Monitoring solution to analyze your position. SMM systems gather brand mentions from reviews, Twitter, Facebook, forums, and just about anywhere else on the Internet - the information gleaned from this text paints a vivid picture of your hotel's place in the social media web. Analyzing this social content will reveal actionable details to help you answer three key questions:

  • Who is talking about my competitors and me?
  • What specifically are they talking about?
  • How do they feel about it?
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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.