Managing Real-time Reviews

The growth of mobile requires a heightened vigilance in the online world

By Larry Mogelonsky President & Founder, LMA Communications | January 27, 2013

This is the year of mobile domination. Smartphones now have the numbers and the 'smarts' to swing this from rebellion to full-on revolution. Rethink your website, rethink your social media and rethink your external sales channels. There have been utterances about this for months now, which in internet time is decades. As always, with new technologies come new dilemmas, and the topic for today is real-time guest reviews.

Rather explicit by its namesake, real-time reviews are those live tweets, Facebook status updates and foursquare comments, or the ten-minutes-after-the-fact TripAdvisor reviews. They could be posted via laptop, but given their immediacy, the delivery vessel is most likely mobile – smartphones and, increasingly, tablets.

To address why real-time reviews matter is to address why immediacy matters. What's the rush? Why does it matter that I expedite my online follow-up to remarks about my hotel which run the gamut from the good and the bad to the tragically ugly? Damage control for one. But, more importantly, one that's less obvious is heightened loyalty – a pillar for any successful business.

Let me explain through an 'old-fashioned' example – email. An acquaintance messages you with a matter requiring some semblance of urgency on your part. So, you rebound within a few minutes (not that you wouldn't otherwise) asking for more details. Henceforth, a tacit precedent has been set in terms of the appropriate breadth of time between correspondences. How then would you feel towards this acquaintance if your initial, hastened reply was left unanswered for two whole weeks? Barring extenuating circumstances, it doesn't appear as though you're very high on his or her priority list and, frankly, it's quite rude.

Apply this communications scenario to real-time reviews. A conciliatory reply to a scathing Twitter comment two days after the fact is like throwing a bucket of water into a forest fire; too little, too late. The world is moving fast and you have to keep pace. Survival of the fastest.

This alacrity can impede your marketing and loyalty-building efforts, but lo and behold, the opposite is exceedingly true. Suppose a recently departed guest rejoices at length about your F&B service on your hotel's Facebook fan page. Then, your team sends a personalized and sincere 'Thank You' note within 10 minutes. "Wow, that was fast! They must really care what I think and value my patronage," thinks the surprised and enthused user.

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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.