Why Social Media Is Causing Hotels to Rethink Traditional Guest Satisfaction
By Michelle Wohl VP of Marketing & Client Services, Revinate | February 02, 2014
For years, hotels have been measuring guest satisfaction through post-stay surveys. These surveys, usually administered by a third party company, have a standard look and feel and aim to capture information in as uniform a way as possible. In most cases, a link to the survey is emailed out to guests a day or two after their stay so the experience is still fresh in their minds. The survey is typically long and forces the guest to move through multiple screens, selecting bubbles to represent how satisfied they were with different aspects of their stay.
At the time they were introduced, these surveys made a lot of sense. The surveys were easy to administer, complete and analyze, since the majority of the results were quantitative, not qualitative. For example, a typical question might read, "On a scale of 1-5, please rate your satisfaction with the spa." Because the results were easy to tabulate, the results became a regular metric in management KPIs. And of course, once a process becomes operationalized at a hotel, it's hard to change it.
While traditional surveys make collecting feedback and reporting on results a breeze, there isn't a lot of rich data being collected about the guest experience since analyzing words, or verbatim, requires a whole new level of technology. So, while these surveys are great for top-line results, it's often hard for hoteliers to discern what experiences and staff members really made or broke the guest experience.
Then social media came along. For the first time, hoteliers had a channel to receive incredibly rich feedback about the guest experience. Guests were writing reviews, in their own words, about every aspect of the guest experience, from services and amenities that they loved to the comfort of the bed and cleanliness of the bathrooms. They were doing it without being asked by the hotel and every year more and more people were getting involved in contributing stories, photos and videos. For the first time, hoteliers were able to hear, in guests' own voices, exactly what guests felt about their hotels. And because they weren't required to speak to every single department in the hotel, guests were writing only about the topics that made an impact, regardless of whether they were positive or negative.
Savvy hoteliers were paying close attention, from the beginning, to social media, realizing how much valuable data there was in these reviews and mentions on channels such as Facebook and Twitter. They were visiting the different review sites daily and setting up Google alerts to find mentions on blogs, photo and video sites and across the Web. They were taking the time to respond to reviews and engaging in conversations on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And as they began to pay closer attention to this feedback, something magical happened. The service and operations at their hotels began to improve because they were getting very detailed reports, directly from guests, about their experiences.
But not many hoteliers were giving it this level of attention because it wasn't an easy job. There was no way to automate the aggregation of this data. Rather, it was a manual, time-consuming process and there was no way to get an accurate sense of trends. In other words, it was very hard to definitively say, "Of my 200 reviews and social media mentions, my biggest issue is parking but guests love my beds and location." Aside from the stars/points awarded to the hotel and the subcategories, making order of the rich data was a nearly impossible task since the majority of reviews contain both positive and negative statements, and everything in between.
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