What is the ROI of your (expensive) kids? Should be the same as your hotel guests

NB: This is a viewpoint from Carla Caccavale, a brand strategist at TrustYou.

What is the ROI of your kids? And let’s be clear, they cost an absolute fortune these days. So, this recent Mother’s Day got me to thinking about this very question.

I have four little ones (ages six, five, three and two). They weren’t going out and buying me anything that came close to the money I shell out on them in any given month, or any given day for that matter.

Here I am up early getting them ready for school, volunteering as class mother, helping fundraise for the nursery school, doing their laundry, baths, cooking and cuddling.

Not to mention the investment made to live in a town with superior schools, tap and jazz classes, gymnastics, soccer and more. What do I get in return for this tremendous financial (and highly emotional) investment?

A handmade card, a beaded bracelet with no thought of a pattern, a glitter and sequenced heart pin and a bucket with some hand-planted flowers.

Truth be told, if you are looking for a measurable ROI for parenthood you’ll be hard pressed to find one that ties back to dollars and cents.

That doesn’t stop us from being parents though, does it?

This same ROI question, rhetorical if you ask me, is posed day in and day out when it comes to online reputation management and the review space.

  • “What do I really get by asking people to fill out a review?”
  • “What is the ROI of responding to all of these reviews?”
  • “What did being on Facebook drive in revenue?”
  • “This five-star comment didn’t sell me out last week, did it?”

For those of you shaking your head in agreement, having been on the receiving end of such questions, here is some ammo:

  • Hotels that respond to online guest reviews, whether positive or negative, average 6% higher review scores than those who don’t.
  • Higher-ranking hotels earn better visibility on review sites, which lends itself to a greater appeal amongst travelers, which in turn results in more bookings and revenue.
  • TripAdvisor studies have shown that 71% of travelers think that management responses are important.
  • Management responses are so important that 68% of people say they would choose a hotel with management responses over a comparable hotel without them.
  • Responses give travelers confidence that they are booking at a hotel that will take care of their needs. Even negative reviews that have responses have a positive impact with 79% of travelers saying they feel reassured by the seeing the hotel is listening. (See previous post on how to shape responses to comments positive and negative.)
  • Hotels that respond to guests average 147% more reviews than those who don’t.
  • More reviews equate to a better score; the greater the volume of reviews, the less weight a negative review will carry. (And 81% of reviews tend to be positive.)

Even with this being said you are still being asked “but what do I get – what is the ROI – of responding to reviews?”.

Many properties still don’t see the value of responding; only 32% of hotels worldwide responded to a review in 2012. A shocking number; if guest take the time to write, hoteliers should take the time to respond, in my opinion.

Back to the original question on the ROI of my children, let me share this exchange on Mother’s Day with my three-year-old son:

  • Me: “You are my first son, Paulie.”
  • Paulie (who took it to mean “sun”): “And you are my moon, Mommy, and my sisters are the stars.”

The ROI is priceless.

The next time you get a question on the ROI in the review space I suggest you respond with the real question:

“What does it cost to be unresponsive? What is the ROI of rudeness?”

When your competitors leave you in the dust management will have their answer, albeit too late.

NB: This is a viewpoint from Carla Caccavale, a brand strategist at TrustYou.

NB2: Child money image via Shutterstock. Not related to the author.

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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. Cedrick Mantle

    ROI of your children? That’s the most rewarding thing you get in your life and without money. It’s priceless and long living. I believe any mother won’t hesitate about ROI of her child. Because the only kiss makes you get energy and smile on your face and that brings results to your career.

    • Carla

      Glad to hear you agree about the ROI of children being priceless, Cedrick. I assume you saw that point was made at the end of the article and that this question was meant to be a rhetorical one, similar to what it the ROI of hotels managing online reputation and responding to guest reviews, social media, etc. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Dan Bergeron

    It still baffles me that so many major brands don’t respond to reviews online. Whether a customer has a positive or negative experience to share, the brand should always respond. If the experience is positive and a simple ‘thank you’ is given in reply it will go a long way and create a loyal customer. If the experience is negative, the brand can dig deeper and find out why the customer had a bad experience and then fix it.

    • Carla

      I agree with you 100%, Dan. If you click on the link in the article (around the words “in my opinion) you will see my thoughts on why hotels should not practice what I like to call “selective hospitality.” Ignoring someone who comments on your property online is like answering the phone with the mute button on.

  3. Gus

    Bottom line we are not able to calculate a ROI, and it is a normal requirement for investing. You do have a point but I think it is a weakness that this side of the industry isnt advanced enough to provide this key metric.

    • Carla

      Just like word of mouth, it is hard to track who read a review, or a management response to a review, and was convinced to book as a result. There are returns, as mentioned in the post, such as: TripAdvisor studies have shown that 71% of travelers think that management responses are important. While you can’t put a dollar value on that, it is too big a number to ignore. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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