How to Address Consumer Concerns Lodged Through Social Media

By Robert Patterson Vice President of Content & Social Strategy, MMGY Global | February 24, 2013

Hotel guest feedback has taken many forms over time beginning with verbal communication at the front desk and over the phone, progressing to customer comment cards, evolving to online reviews and most recently surfacing with the rise of social media. Is your hotel developing a strategy that includes addressing social media customer feedback? Learn how to identify, evaluate and respond to consumer concerns through online reviews and social media.

The Correlation of Online Reviews to Hotel Revenue

According to "The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance," a newly published study by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, a 1 point increase in a hotel's online reputation score on Travelocity's 5-point scale allows a hotel to increase its price by 11.2% and maintain the same occupancy and market share. The study also details how a 1% increase in a hotel's online reputation leads up to an 0.89% increase in average daily rate (ADR), up to 0.54% increase in occupancy and up to 1.42% increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR). In December 2012, TripAdvisor, released a study directly linking reviews, photos and responses to traveler feedback to increased visibility and engagement on the popular travel review site.

Although the importance of reputation management has been known in the hotel industry for sometime, it has never been more evident that ignoring your online reputation will directly impact your hotel's revenue potential.

The Importance of Consumer Word of Mouth

According to the 2012 Portrait of American TravelersSM, a national survey of 2,524 U.S. households, 83% of those surveyed selected family and friends as the top source of trusted travel information. With an increasing amount of individuals communicating, reviewing and recommending products and experiences to their friends and family through social media, online word of mouth is paramount to successful organic referrals and sales in today's marketplace.

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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.