“My kids love the pool,” a mom gushes in an online hotel review. On the surface, the comment seems completely positive, especially if it motivates a prospective customer to book the hotel for their next family vacation. But a positive sentiment may not always yield positive results.
A young couple could read that same review and think to themselves, “No way in hell!” After seeing a number of those kid-friendly hotel comments, the sales and marketing team starts to understand why a property’s romantic weekend getaway package is performing poorly.
Travelers constantly share their hotel experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly—on social media and online review sites. Guests are talking about everything from the check-in process and behavior of the front desk agent to Wi-Fi speeds and mattress comfort. With so much data at their fingertips, hotels can easily get lost.
However, with the right approach, properties can leverage user-generated content to better understand their reputation in the marketplace, improve operations, and ensure their service is aligned with their marketing and branding strategies.
“I see huge potential and lots of insights locked up in this text data,” says Kelly McGuire, vice president of advanced analytics for Wyndham Destination Network and former executive director of hospitality and travel global practices for SAS. “But you have to understand what it is and what place it has in your organization.”
By now, most hotels have a handle on tracking and monitoring operational feedback, responding when appropriate, and taking corrective action internally, McGuire says. “We’ve definitely gotten much better at that, thanks to reputation management vendors that have been helping hotels gather that data and make sense of it.”
Where some properties are missing the mark, however, is mining social data to gain a better understanding of their guest segments.
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