TripAdvisor insights on Hotel Guest Engagement

TripAdvisor has compiled a study of guest engagement and found several key factors that drive hotel guest engagement on the review site.

Among the key findings, management responses to TripAdvisor reviews can drive bookings on the site by more than 20% Click to Tweet. Specifically, hotels that responded to guest reviews were 21% more likely to receive a booking via TripAdvisor than hotels that did not respond to reviews. And properties that respond to over 50 percent of their reviews further increase their likelihood of receiving a booking inquiry by 24 percent over those that did not respond.

In addition to creating guest engagement, management responses to reviews seems to have a "halo" effect of higher review ratings. Hotels that regularly responded to reviews from guests have consistently higher reviews as well. From the study:

0% response rate = 3.81 average review rating
5%-40% response rate = 4.04 average review rating
40% – 65% = 4.05 average review rating
65%+ response rate = 4.15 average review rating.

Additionally, hotels with photo displayed on the TripAdvisor site saw a 138 percent increase in guest engagement vs. properties without photos. And for those hotels with more than 1000 photos, the guest engagement factor is a 203 percent increase over those with no photos.

As past studies have shown, the impact of guest reviews on both hotel ADR and RevPAR are significant, so any increase in reviews represents a very meaningful impact for hoteliers and management companies.

In a release, TripAdvisor for Business President Marc Charron tied guest engagement directly to management/owner engagement on the website. "Looking at the results of this study, a clear theme emerges: the more engaged the business owner, the more interested the traveler," said Marc Charron, President, TripAdvisor for Business. "It’s no secret that traveler want to see pictures and read reviews of a property before making their booking decision. What’s really key is the upward trend in average review ratings, traveler engagement levels and booking inquiries on the site, the more frequently a hotel owner responds to reviews. Taking part in the conversation and demonstrating that the owner cares about feedback has a very real and measurable effect on converting a traveler from a casual browser into a potential guest."

Five Fresh Hospitality Reads for the Week

This week, as many begin to focus on budget planning and creating strategic plans, I'm reading more about how the hospitality industry continues to evolve in the social media era. Here are five fresh hospitality reads:

The Future of Travel: Eight Things You Need to Know | Marketing Magazine
Great piece on the critical importance of innovation in the hospitality industry.

STUDY: 44% of Luxury Guests Choose Hotels through Word of Mouth
You know it. I know it. And yet… it continues to be overlooked. For all that you are doing through sales, marketing and PR, the most critical component of hospitality remains guest service.

How Luxury Hotels Mine Social Data in the name of Comfort
Great reminder that (a) there is so much information available online about each of us and (b) some hoteliers are using that public data about their guests. I think there's a lesson in this piece about the importance of balancing hospitality/privacy.

Airlines testing new ways to Board Planes
All aboard (faster!) Also… 100 times YES!

How TripAdvisor wants to own the Travel Cycle
TripAdvisor has evolved from a review site to an efficient booking engine. Now the TripAdvisor teams wants to be the provider of choice for local area information and concierge service. I will be interested to see if crowdsourced hospitality data can ever truly scale.

Another clear indicator of how important it is to know your audience and to continue to refine your message to each guest.

For more hospitality trendspotting, follow me on Twitter.

New Study Shows Hotel Reviews Drive Rate & RevPar

A new study from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration details that hotel reviews posted on social travel websites, such as TripAdvisor and Travelocity, positively impact a guest's willingness to book reservations at a premium rate for a reviewed hotel.

"The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance," by Chris K. Anderson found that the number of reviews as well as the willingness of consumers to assign credibility to hotel reviews has increased over time. Anderson also found that a 1-point increase on Travelocity's review scale – such as increasing a hotel's review from 3.3 stars to 4.3 stars – drives an 11.2 percent premium in a hotel's rate, while still maintaining occupancy and market share.

Given these results, it's increasingly clear that hoteliers must dedicate resources to monitoring their social reputation, actively review online hotel reviews and invest further in guest experiences on-property to create engaged guests. (Read more on who writes hotel reviews)

Beyond Travelocity, Anderson determined through regression analysis that a 1-percent gain in a hotel's social media reputation is worth 0.89% in average rate lift and a 1.42 percent increase in RevPar. Click to Tweet

The full social media impact study is available online from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

How to Convert Social Media Followers to Buyers

Since the rocket-like launches of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest years ago, organizations have been asking the million dollar question in regards to social media, "How can we convert fans into buyers?"

Social MediaCountless books, seminars, blogs have been devoted to the topic of social media ROI, but (sadly) most seem to miss the most obvious point.

While I don't proclaim to have all of the answers, the answer to the question of converting social media followers to customers seems a rather obvious one:  The same way you converted your existing customers.  

From my perspective, there's too much status placed on 'fans' and 'fan counts' by most social media "experts". The people who "like" your brand are essentially giving your company a virtual high five. Click to Tweet They appreciate something you've done or a perception you've created about your products. They may or may not be your current customers. And – unless you work to convert your followers into buyer – they may or may not be your future customers.

In a traditional sense, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers are the digital equivalent of window shoppers. Click to Tweet Some of them know your brand well, they enjoy your products  and actively share their experiences with their friends.

But some  of your fans – a large majority – are standing on the sidewalk.  They like your window display, but it hasn't compelled them to open the door and try your brand. And this is where your business acumen and experience – more so than your social networking skills – come into play.

Social media is a tool for increasing your sales, not the solution. Click to Tweet

So ask yourself and your team: What do you do as a brand that brings potential customers in off the sidewalk?

If you can answer that question, then you can convert social media followers into buyers.

How To Position Yourself as an Expert – ROLL UP YOUR SHIRT SLEEVES!

I happened upon a curious article entitled "How to Roll Up Your Shirt Sleeves" via a luxury company's social media and it really struck me. As a man who wears shirts, I suppose I am well-within the blog's target demographic for this post; however, what really interested wasn't the content, but rather the positioning. 

The article details (with photos AND videos!) different ways for men to roll up their shirt sleeves. This is, I suppose, interesting information for a number of readers. 

Beyond the content, I think this is a great example of how to position yourself as an expert.

Each of us has a number of interests in which we have a great depth and breadth of knowledge. Be it personal or professional, I'm sure there are several areas in which you could be considered an expert. And therein lies the opportunity. 

By taking the next logical step and SHARING your expertise, you can not only impact your audience but also establish yourself as an expert – a status that can reward you handsomly in career pursuits. After all, who would you rather hire/work with/buy from? An expert or the other guy? 

In what areas are you an expert? Find your niche and roll up your sleeves!

5+1 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW!

I read an interesting article on Glassdoor entitled, "5 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW" in which some often overlooked points were resurfaced. It's worth a read. 

One point that was not mentioned and should be emphasized is how important it is to communicate your social media handles along with your contact information. Your social media standing is a direct reflection of your professional interests and network. and can demonstrate industry engagement

This important engagement element should not be overlooked. After all, there are (literally) hundreds of studies showing that prospective employers are going to seek you out through social media. If this is a point of distinction for you, then you should showcase it, right? 

If you're actively promoting yourself professionally through a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, you should definitely include a handle or link in the header of your resume. Don't miss a chance to make this positive impression!

How To Make Press Releases "Twitter Friendly"

PRNewser had an interesting read this week on the importance of making your press releases Twitter friendly. Why should you tailor a press release to be easily distributed via Twitter, you ask? Simple. Twitter drives more traffic to press releases than any other top-level social media resource.

So, how do you make your press release "twitter friendly"? PRNewser has some obvious steps as well as some a-ha steps that can greatly impact how your release gets distributed via social networks.  

“It starts with the headline,” says Sarah Skerik, PRNewswire’s VP of social media. “The press releases that got the most shares and views were those that had headlines that were in the range of 120 characters, which makes them the perfect tweetable link.”

twitter logoObviously good headlines are important, but it's equally important to monitor the length of the headline. Since Twitter users will want to retweet your post and (potentially) add comments, you need to leave enogh characters to support the "RT @[yourusername]" device, at a minimum. A good rule of thumb would be to limit the length of your tweet to 110-120 characters maximum. 

Using twitter best practices is also important in making your press release twitter friendly and ensuring that you are hitting your core audience. One obvious device is through the use of appropriate hashtags. Hashtags make your content easy to find through twitter search, lists, and dedicated industry feeds. 

Another great tip is to make your pullquotes tweet-able. 

Why not make the quote more interesting and substantive? “If I knew my audience was active on Twitter, I would make sure that quote is tweet-able, and include the brand’s or person’s Twitter handle….”

Including a twitter handle within your press release (or within the pullquote itself) is a really clever idea that could pay off in many ways. Not only will it get your important themes noticed and retweeted, but it could help to gain followers for your internal twitter accounts, further enhancing your brand's credibility in the marketplace. 

For more ways to make your press releases twitter friendly, check out the rest at PRNewser.

The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."

 

 

5 words that generate the most likes on Facebook

In this era of social media, many companies are looking to increase guest and fan engagement on their Facebook pages. According to a new study from Buddy Media, increasing the number of "likes" your posts and updates receive may be easier than you thought.

After evaluating posts and status updates, the report found these five keywords that generate the most likes for posts on Facebook:

  1. Like
  2. Take
  3. Submit
  4. Watch
  5. Post

The success of these key words indicates that messages with "soft engagement" can be an extremely successful strategy in social media. 

How reliable are TripAdvisor reviews?

Since its launch in February 2000, travelers and hoteliers have attempted to better understand just how accurate the reviews at TripAdvisor truly are. 

Jonathan Barksy and Robert Honeycutt of Market Metrix, who's specialty happens to be hospitality feedback, compared 12-months of TripAdvisor reviews against their firm's proprietary index to find that – generally speaking – aggregate TripAdvisor review scores tend to be accurate

The hotels used in this comparison were selected on the basis of their location, brand and type to achieve a diverse mix. Each hotel also must have received a sufficient number of responses. Statistical analysis was conducted to compare the similarity of scores for each hotel, the distribution of the data, and the change in scores.

The most significant conclusion of this study is that the mean scores of hotels track very consistently and closely between TripAdvisor (CSI) and MMHI. This indicates that, when taken as a whole, the reviews for a particular hotel are a reliable measure of average customer satisfaction of that hotel, given adequate sample size. However, the variability of scores was found to be slightly greater among TripAdvisor hotels. TripAdvisor reviews were more spread out with more high scores and more low scores. While some persons may appreciate reading a wider range of reviews about a hotel, extreme observations may be distracting or even distort consumer perception.

(emphasis added above)

In other words, there are some reviews on TripAdvisor that – regardless of the hotel – simply aren't accurate. Individual reviews can skew negative or positive as a byproduct of an emotional experience. For example, receiving an amenity from the hotel to mark a special visit may elicit a more positive reaction on TripAdvisor than having a hotel misplace a guest's laundry.

On the whole, however, the median score for an individual hotel tends to be accurate and in line with established industry metrics for guest satisfaction.