Have you ever noticed that there is often some disconnect between a rating you received from a guest in an online review and the comment they wrote with it? This happens more often than you think – and even galvanised a team from Cornell University to do a study into this precise phenomenon using text analytics and sentiment analysis. Their key piece of advice? If you really want to know what your guests are thinking, you need to look beyond their rating.
The team from Cornell analysed thousands of online reviews of Moscow hotels to try to determine patterns and correlations that could help hoteliers in determining what guests were really saying with their ratings and where to focus their attention. They compared various factors of the review, such as length, tone, star rating, number of topics covered and what kinds of topics the reviewers spoke about to create a foundation for the study.
In the study, semantic trends were found in both a good and bad review. Examining these trends and what they mean can provide hoteliers with insights that will help them to achieve consistently higher ratings.
The Cornell team’s analysis of Moscow hotel reviews showed that the quality of the guests experience, especially in comparison to their expectations, is what will influence the overall rating of a property one way or another. We set out to see if reviews of London hotels followed the same trends.
We looked at TripAdvisor reviews of six London hotels (two of the top rated, two from among the worst rated, and two medium rated), and found that a review of these hotels did indeed follow the same patterns.
The characteristics of bad reviews
- The Cornell team found that long reviews that spoke in-depth about just a few topics almost always accompanied low ratings, and our own findings support this. The combined word count of our collection of negative reviews was nearly twice that of the positive reviews we collected.
- Generally, unhappy guests in the Cornell study mentioned issues of “value” and “transactions” and in our small sample of London hotels, 73% of the negative reviews made some reference to cost.