TripAdvisor Data: Not Just for Guests Anymore

By Gary Isenberg President, LWHA Asset & Property Management Services | April 16, 2017

By now, nearly every type of traveler prepping for a journey scans TripAdvisor for reviews of hotels in their destination city prior to securing a reservation. By perusing prior guest comments, consumers receive unfiltered and unbiased perceptions of specific properties. Travelers want to know before they book for instance if: Are the rooms clean? Is the service top-notch? Most importantly, does a hotel deliver value for the price?

If a property delivers a positive guest experience, it enhances the persuasiveness to attract future guests. If it falters deficits are proclaimed loudly on TripAdvisor and/or other social media channels. In the age of TripAdvisor, hoteliers, who in effect manage daily leasing of guestrooms with dynamic and forever changing pricing, confront risk to their bookings pace.

For all the angst TripAdvisor sometimes causes hotel managers trying to attract reservations, the data found in those guest comments provide a treasure trove of information increasingly utilized not only by potential guests, but by lenders, investors, buyers, marketing executives and even vendors as well.

Guests Data Are no Longer Private

Prior to TripAdvisor and the advent of social media, guest comments or surveys were typically kept private and only seen by hotel and brand managers. Even today, cards are still placed in hotel rooms with a list of multiple-choice questions for guests to check off. These questionnaires ask for a ranking in several areas, such as staff conduct, food services or overall cleanliness. Or after a hotel stay, the franchise company or a private consumer research company such as J.D. Power sends guests a survey in the mail.

Let's be honest about those printed guest surveys. The questions are crafted by hotel managers aiming for a particular response. Rarely do guests write down detailed comments in the three to four lines allotted on such questionnaires. It is great if the scores are high, but is that truly what the guest perceived? Guests could also make their remarks directly to the front desk. But for the most part, whatever those surveys yielded - good or bad - went no further than the hotel walls.

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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.