How to combine social media and analytics in hotel marketing

NB: 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.

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.

There’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 hotels’ 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 hotel’s online reviews will reveal exactly what guests like and don’t like.

With this information, you can now know what to avoid and what promote.

Semantic analysis to understand sentiment

Here’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 hotels’ 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.

Case study

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 – 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 didn’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 – 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 example

Another hotel had just renovated their property with some of the most exquisite materials available. Each tile or piece of furniture was 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 quick… we studied the hotel’s reviews to find out what people were saying about the hotel. To everyone’s surprise nobody mentioned any of these great products and fine brands but they were all commenting on the hotel’s close proximity to several monuments.

It surprised us because the hotel wasn’t that close to those monuments from a local viewpoint. But in the eyes of the consumer that was the hotel’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 hotel’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 – from the guests’ 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 don’t care about or aren’t interested in.

Make an effort to understand what your guests are saying about you, combine that with your marketing research, and you’ll have a formula for powerful promotions.

NB: 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.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



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  1. Michael Kaye

    I agree. Fascinating idea to use semantic analysis of online reviews to determine what facets of their experience guests talk about positively. However there is a catch. What guest talk about positively AFTER they have experienced the hotel does not line up perfectly with what expectations about their experience potential guests to choose a hotel BEFORE they have had the experience. Proximity to monuments was what you liked most once you got there, but expectations of luxury was what caused you to chose the hotel in the first place. What I’ve found is that the memory of the experience at the hotel trumps the memory of choosing the hotel. When you ask guests why they choose it, they are apt to tell you what they liked most about being their. I keep meaning to contact guests right after they book and not getting around to it. Insights anyone?

  2. Top Hotel Marketing Trends For 2012 | ReviewPro

    […] Valyn Perini wrote about the opportunities semantic technology will provide consumers in her Tnooz article this week, but there is also a powerful opportunity for using semantic analysis to understand sentiment from online customer feedback (as Martin Soler and I wrote about back in September 2011). […]

  3. kumar

    which tool is used for generating semantic analysis

  4. Joe Farrugia

    Interesting article and concept which falls under ‘research’ in Kotler’s ‘research, segmentation, targeting and positioning stages of marketing’, but the Chartered Institute of Marketing defines ‘marketing’ as: “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. For purists, perhaps you should have used the word ‘promotion’ in the place of ‘marketing’. Purists would use ‘promotional message’ not ‘marketing message’. Otherwise I think there is a lot of value in your concept.

  5. Keith

    Where did the semantic analysis report come from? How do I run one of these?

  6. Murray Atherton

    Great Article.
    I’ve always used the definition for marketing as “satisfying the wants and needs of the customer”. As Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Rocky Mountaineer Railtour, I used to be in contact with travel agents and tour operators on a daily basis. In the early years, I kept on getting the same 3 questions…. Don’t you have a dome? Don’t you have hot meals? and… Don’t you have an observation platform?
    We designed the first Gold Leaf Dome which cost more than the rest of our entire fleet….. now probably 80% of the revenue comes through people booking packages that include ‘The Dome’.
    I have taken the liberty of adding a link on my blog to this article….hope you don’t mind.

  7. Eloy pierre from TOURISTIC

    Hi Josiah, great article… Very interesting for our clients, hoteliers and DMO in France.

  8. John McAuliffe

    Hey guys great article – it is amazing what you can learn when you listen to the market. This is just another great example of how a hotelier can gain insight from consumers to help them craft their hotel’s story. Knowing and understanding what story is going to get your target constituents to part with their money and stay at your hotel is no small feat… but the built in arena of reviews online is a great place to start. And as you point out in your case studies, once you have the story getting it in front of the online consumer on what can only be called a complex shopping journey is just as important. Every hotelier should be asking “what do travelers experience when they walk through my digitial front door.” A good resource for this can be found at


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