The rise of social media and customer monitoring in travel
Clarabridge is the latest company trying to capitalise on what appears to be a growing need from travel and tourism companies to understand reviews and feedback by customers.
The US-based company has launched a dedicated division for EMEA this week, picking the UK as its regional hub under ex-Taleo VP Darren Jaffrey.
Global hotel chains such as Hilton, Choice and Marriott, as well as the Disney Resorts brand, are already Clarabridge customers, but the company says the there is a substantial call from companies to ramp up their efforts to monitor and act on the opinions of customers and the wider web.
Clarabridge, similar to its competitors, uses technology to decipher content in social media for so-called “sentiment analysis”, so hotels and other travel brands can understand beyond the short-term what individuals or pockets of consumers are saying about a brand.
The company also plugs the technology into existing CRM and survey tools.
CEO Sid Banerjee says the rise of his and other companies illustrates not only how important monitoring has become to the industry but also how complicated it can be.
Manual monitoring is less easy for major brands given the enormous volume of content kicking about on the web, Banerjee says.
While Banerjee would obviously like to emphasise the technological prowess of automated systems, he raises an interesting point about the evolution of social media in travel.
Previously the idea of monitoring social media was largely seen as a method of “quantifying” mentions and dealing with feedback (often negative).
The travel industry is learning that social media can help shape strategy around product and service, mainly by taking a more analytical, “qualitative” view of social media in the long term.
The question for the industry now is whether it is taking the qualitative approach to social media or still obsessing over the number of mentions, Likes and Tweets?
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.