While online reviews understandably receive a lot of attention in the hotel industry from a reputation management perspective, there is another use that is equally important: setting the direction of your marketing and advertising campaigns.
The attention devoted to online reputation management for hotels has been remarkable this year. Hotel consultants and agencies are educating hoteliers to encourage guests to share their experience online, and to craft a proper management response to a review.
Thereâ€™s good reason for this focus: The e-tailing group found that 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decision. This change in the competitive environment has forced many hotels to review their quality as expressed in online reviews, and as measured using satisfaction benchmarking metrics.
Yet the review analytics used for reputation management play a much broader role when it comes to marketing. They can guide the direction for your hotelsâ€™ marketing strategies.
The definition of marketing is: “The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.”
From experience, the downfall of marketing lies in faulty pre-determined ideas of how to best push your product. Successful marketing starts when marketers know how the customers perceive the product and then change, improve or replace that perception with the one customers want most.
This is where an analysis of guest feedback online will set the cornerstone for your marketing strategy. A careful study of a hotelâ€™s online reviews will reveal exactly what guests like and donâ€™t like.
With this information, you can now know what to avoid and what promote.
Semantic analysis to understand sentiment
Hereâ€™s an example semantic analysis report from a popular New York City hotel:
As you can see, quality, location, views, and the bar are all parts of this hotelsâ€™ experience that guests talk about positively. These elements should be present in all marketing communications and mentioned over and over again in the advertising copy.
Meanwhile, we can see that price is something that comes up as negative. This typically happens when the hotel is giving the impression of having great value, but guests do not perceive it that way.
This hotel could increase the effectiveness of their communications by focusing on promoting these elements guests appreciate most, and guide the customer perception of the hotel before the booking. Promoting these attributes of the hotel through advertising will likely lead to an even better online reputation, since it will help attract guests that appreciate what your brand does best.
We recently worked with a client that was a historical monument. The hotel had been home of many historical celebrities that had written books, poems, symphonies there â€“ even famous paintings worth millions were painted from the window at the hotel.
Logically this was a tremendous marketing advantage for the hotel. It was all over their brochures, site and advertising. But the hotel was failing despite all this marketing.
After a careful study of all the online reviews of the hotel, it was obvious that their potential future guests didnâ€™t much care about what their other guests did in the past. They came to the hotel for the same reasons that the celebrities came to the hotel â€“ a unique setting and view.
All marketing elements were re-done for the hotel. We scrapped absolutely everything and started from scratch. All of the focus was placed on the setting and view. The results were immediate.
Another hotel had just renovated their property with some of the most exquisite materials available. Each tile or piece of furniture wasÂ of the finest quality, and this was a luxury boutique hotel destined to be great success. Obviously everybody knew that “luxury” was going to be a unique selling point for the hotel. So the marketing efforts, press releases, and communications material were all focused on the fine materials and luxury offered.
Not so quickâ€¦ we studied the hotelâ€™s reviews to find out what people were saying about the hotel. To everyoneâ€™s surprise nobody mentioned any of these great products and fine brands but they were all commenting on the hotelâ€™s close proximity to several monuments.
It surprised us because the hotel wasnâ€™t that close to those monuments from a local viewpoint. But in the eyes of the consumer that was the hotelâ€™s biggest advantage. So we changed the site, the marketing and everything to reflect what the guests were saying. The results were almost immediate, and sales through the hotelâ€™s website took off in ways nobody had imagined.
And one more
Apex Hotels is one of the most successful urban hotel brands in the UK, and has made semantic analysis a fundamental part of determining their marketing strategy. “It enables us to instantly understand our unique selling propositions â€“ from the guestsâ€™ perspective,” says ecommerce executive Amy Spark.
For example, the team realized their location is much more important to guests than their food offerings, so they played this aspect up in their collateral. The results were impressive. “Semantic analysis ensures we are connecting with our audience, and communicates what they are looking for.”
There is more to review analytics than reputation management. Review analytics are a vital tool for guiding marketing messages to reflect what guests appreciate most about your hotels, and avoid topics that guests donâ€™t care about or arenâ€™t interested in.
Make an effort to understand what your guests are saying about you, combine that with your marketing research, and youâ€™ll have a formula for powerful promotions.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP) and Josiah Mackenzie, director of business development at ReviewPro.