I’m Better Than You & I Can Prove It: Remove Reviews from the Silo, Find Your Strengths & Re-Strategize
By feature writer Carla Caccavale
Comments about online hotel reviews usually go something like this:
“We have to respond to that negative review now. Let’s get on it. Now.”
“Did you see that amazing review we go this weekend?” (Not necessarily any mention of how to replicate it or responding to it, which is another topic.)
“We moved up five spots on TripAdvisor!” or “We dropped five spots on TripAdvisor.”
Hotels are on top of reading reviews (for the most part) and responding (sometimes). There is definitely excitement when there is upward movement in the rankings on a review site; and likely finger pointing when a hotel slips a few spots.
Reviews, for the most part, are put in a silo; respond to the negative, high five the positives and hope you come up higher on the list than your competitors. There is a treasure chest of information that is virtually being ignored, by most.
There are some destinations that are realizing there is more to this review space. They are taking reviews out of these silos, looking at trends (both positive and negative), seeing how they benchmark alongside the competition and then re-strategizing. This, to me, is refreshing. Actually listening to what your past guests have to say and acting on it is what perfecting the hospitality is all about.
Hotels and destinations often brag about being the best (often times unsubstantiated). When mining user-generated review data, there is a chance to actually prove it with third-party endorsements in the form of reviews. As they say, self praise is no praise.
Whether you are a five-star or two-star hotel there are ways you can stand out from the pack. Identifying your strengths, as pointed out by your guests, and highlighting them is the best way to prove you’re the best. And let’s be honest, it likely the best in a specific category, after all, who do you know who is the best at everything?
Take Zürich for example. They are competing against other European cities for visitors. Before revising its strategy Zürich Hoteliers and Zürich Tourism came together and turned to online reviews to make better-informed decisions. With the help of TrustYou, an online reputation management (ORM) market leader and travel technology company, they pulled a comprehensive, competitive analysis of user-generated content for Zürich and five other destinations that they go head-to-head with for guests (Amsterdam, Gothenborg, Munich, Valencia, and Vienna). They didn’t want to just talk about being better than its top competitors, they wanted to prove it. Alternatively, they wanted to see where there was room for improvement and create a roadmap for how to get there.
The reality was that they didn’t take the number one spot in every category. Zürich was, however, ahead of its top competitor, Munich, in virtually every segment, which gave them some worthy ammo. The findings which were based on a three-month span of data analysis looked at dozens of categories from how hotels did overall, to luxury property rankings, business travelers, response rates, overall review volume and side-by-side comparison of how they ranked across various review platforms.
Zürich learned that they were ahead of the pack when it came to response rate, but lagging behind in the overall volume of reviews, which calls for a more pro-active approach to encourage guests to write reviews. (Zürich hotels collected an average of 49 reviews per hotel in a three-month span, compared to 118 in Amsterdam, 98 for Vienna and 86 in Munich over this same timeframe.) This tied nicely to the finding that the highest review rankings for the destination’s hotels came from surveys they proactively sent to guests (yet another reason to focus on being proactive in collecting reviews).
The next time you are writing a collateral piece or website copy and you type “the best,” ask yourself if you can prove it. I would venture to guess you can – in some way shape or form, in some category, in some area – so prove it. You can do it and the massive pool of online user-generated content is a good place to start.
About the author
Carla Caccavale, Brand Strategist for TrustYou and founder of Carla Caccavale PR, has a passion for the hospitality industry and a relentless pursuit of perfecting the guest experience through exceptional customer service. From award-winning PR campaigns to common-sense driven programs and an emphasis on intense attention to detail, Carla helps clients increase awareness while building brand advocates in a meaningful, measurable way. Her deep roots in the hospitality industry, from individual hotels to destinations, airlines, tour operators and websites give Carla a hands-on, comprehensive understanding of the travel world. Carla takes an integrated approach and considers all channels when looking to accomplish a brand's goals, including online reviews, social media, direct-to-consumer communication, on-property execution, and the marketing program as a whole. Carla has live, on-camera broadcast experience, having made appearances as a spokesperson on major national networks shows, such as TODAY (NBC), Good Morning America (ABC), The Early Show (CBS), American Morning (CNN), CNN Headline News and more. She has spoken on the topics of secrets to winning PR awards and creating superior PR campaigns. In addition to underscoring the importance of creativity, Carla puts an emphasis on implementing PR campaigns that drive revenue, awareness and visitors. Her byline has appeared in a variety of publications and she recently appeared on Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible."