How to Extract the Right Insights From Your Hotel Reviews

By Jeff Catlin Co-Founder and CEO, Lexalytics, Inc | December 10, 2017

All the great societies of the world were made possible by a simple yet game-changing evolutionary leap: complex communication. From the first moment early humans grouped together, it was their ability to communicate and innovate that took us from the caves into gleaming towers of steel and glass that tickle the clouds. So, it's not just business that runs on communication, everything does.

The early days of the travel and leisure industry are more recent but nonetheless important. In days gone by the idea of traveling cross-country or across a continent was a life-and-death proposition. Through innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit, the travel and leisure industry has become the ambassadors of business across the globe. Yet, when your customers can be literally anyone in the world, how can anyone be expected to effectively understand what they are they are saying?

Social Media, a quantum leap in human connectivity and communication, has been fully accepted within the travel and leisure industry. Virtually all of the major hotel chains have active social media engagement programs designed to enhance the image or their brands and sniff out minor issues before they become major ones.

We've discussed how this works in previous articles so we won't rehash any of that here. Instead, let's take a more detailed look at how social engagement should differ for the various brands within a hotel chain. Specifically, we're going to examine how sentiment is not a universal measure, and that it's not only correct, but appropriate that sentiment for high end hotel chains will have a much larger variance (more really positive and really negative comments).

When looking at review content or tweets about your hotel chain it's normal to think that all tweets are created equal, but sadly that's not the case. It's pretty obvious and accepted that certain authors or publications carry a lot more weight with users than others. If a respected travel writer pens a strongly negative piece about a new hotel in South Beach it would almost certainly set off alarm bells at the property, but if my son wrote a blog post with the same sentiment on the same property, it might be read, but it wouldn't carry even remotely the same weight.

That some people have more clout than others has been a truism in marketing for generations, so let's remove the authors from the discussion and assume (incorrectly) that all tweets are created equal. In this utopian world we'd like to believe that the sentiment of a tweet or customer review can be scored on an equal scale regardless of the property being reviewed, but our research has shown that customer expectations play a huge role in people's sentiment about a property. Let's say our sentiment technology is capable of reading reviews and scoring it on a 1 to 10 scale, where 10 is great.

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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.