Travel Review Innovation: From User Experience to Guest Experience
Let’s talk about innovation. Specifically innovation and travel reviews. We all know by now that travel reviews are fundamental to the travel planning process, but their importance is about more than what they say or how many there are. Travel reviews have the potential to help innovate both the travel site user experience as well as the actual guest experience. Here are two examples of innovation with travel reviews from each of these perspectives.
Hipmunk: Improving the travel research experience
Just because the average travelers reads up to a dozen or more reviews before booking a hotel, doesn’t necessarily mean that the traveler actually wants to read all of those reviews.
Hipmunk, a leading travel booking engine, was created to make it easier for travelers to plan trips by showing all relevant flight, hotel, or car choices on a single page via a visual “timeline” that illustrates the tradeoffs between options. But Hipmunk didn’t stop there. Understanding the integral role of travel reviews, the company opted for a super-visual display rather than the standard text representation, showing a hotel’s overall score, its rank, and summarized scores for various aspects like food, service, room, etc. For Hipmunk’s travelers, reviews look like:
User experience is increasingly important in order to stay competitive with travelers and with search engines. Hipmunk is on the leading edge of giving travelers a more desirable search and planning process, which will naturally set them apart in a very visual industry.
Lindner Hotels & Resorts: Improving the guest experience
Award-winning hotel group Lindner manages 34 hotels across 7 European countries. One of the keys to their success is personalized guest service. Part and parcel is their innovation in integrating their online reputation management (ORM) with their CRM, Serenata. Lindner has integrated TrustYou online survey data into their CRM and PMS to create detailed guest profiles and VIP reports.
In addition to increasing the volume of their reviews through guest surveys, they have harnessed those reviews to improve their guest experience. Upon check-in, hoteliers have a full report with details about what guests have said about the Lindner hotels in which they have stayed in the past. Guest service may then thank the guest for their feedback in person, as well as address any concerns that may have come up in the past. Hotels are also able to preemptively make changes to a guest’s room or identify their desires for service before arrival. As such Lindner is providing customized service based entirely on the guest’s expressed desires.
At the end of the day, it’s true that volume of reviews matters and generating more reviews creates trust with travelers. As an industry, it’s time to move past just the volume conversation, however, and toward the potential of using reviews to do what the hospitality industry does best: serve guests.