What are the best hotels in Berlin? More importantly, how will consumers and industry influencers identify the best hotels in your city?
First, some background information. The title of this post sounds consumer focused for a reason. To succeed in hotel marketing, it’s important to think like your customer.
Research by Neilsen and others have indicated travelers are using consumer reviews as a deciding factor in which hotel they book. But what’s been missing is a standard measurement of online reputation. Specifically, a measurement that considers ratings in aggregate, and doesn’t rely on any one website.
ReviewPro is resolving this problem with the introduction of the Global Review Index, which is becoming an industry benchmark by which hotel groups are measuring their success (and progress) in online reputation scoring.
The algorithm – which was developed in collaboration with leading academics and hotel industry experts – summarizes guest opinion across 60+ travel review websites in 8 languages. It produces a score from 1-100 that reflects the overall sentiment in guest reviews and ratings. Having all this data in aggregate is perfect for a study like this to discover the best hotels in a city.
What are the best hotels in Berlin?
According to the study, they are:
- The Ritz-Carlton Berlin (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company), GRI: 94.69%
- The Regent Berlin (Rezidor Hotel Group), GRI: 94.36%
- Casa Camper Berlin (Casa Camper), GRI: 94.02%
- Alma Schlosshotel im Grunewald (AlmaHotels), GRI: 93.93%
- The Circus Hotel (The Circus), GRI: 93.88%
- Grand Hyatt Berlin (Hyatt Hotels Corporation), GRI: 93.16%
- Adlon Kempinski Berlin (Kempinski Hotels), GRI: 92.85%
- Swissôtel Berlin (Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts), GRI: 92.57%
- Hotel de Rome (The Rocco Forte Collection), GRI: 92.47%
- The Mandala Hotel (The Mandala Hotel GmbH), GRI: 92.22%
ReviewPro is planning future city rankings in the future that will interest travelers, but the big questions for you as a hotel marketing professional are:
- Do guests consider your properties among the best hotels in your city? How would you know?
- How do guests view your hotel compared to your competitors?
- What is your plan to continually improve your online reputation ranking?
Rohit Bhargava used “likeonomics” as his leading trend for 2011, among a very strong list of trends to watch.
“Likes” and microinfluence
In a time-starved world, people want to share opinions but often don’t have a lot of time to take in doing so. The volume of people sharing opinion is quickly increasing, but at the same time, many are decreasing the time they spend doing it.
If we’re going to stay relevant, we need to think through how to leverage this trend.
On the EyeForTravel social media panel in Atlanta, I said I wouldn’t spend more than 15-20 seconds on most retail or restaurant customer reviews.
But if I’m buying a coffee or a quick meal, it’s not likely I’ll spend 15 minutes writing a 3-paragraph review.
That’s why I largely switched from Yelp to UrbanSpoon for restaurant reviews. It’s simpler. One-line mobile reviews. No more time spent agonizing if it’s a 4 or 5-star establishment. I either like the restaurant or I don’t:
A supplement, not a replacement, for long-form reviews
For hotels, longer form written reviews will remain more popular since the experience is much more immersive than a typical restaurant meal. Many people want to describe the different elements of their stay, upload photos and video, and so on.
For management, longer form reviews obviously contain a much richer amount of information to work with. We can extract sentiment with semantic analysis, take action within our organization based on feedback, and even use some testimonials in our advertising.
So what am I supposed to do with microinfluence?
Start with the source that helped this concept gain popularity: try adding Facebook “like” buttons to key pages on your site. (I’ve seen mixed results, so it’s something you’ll have to test for your situation.)
Then as review sites evolve, we’ll have to experiment what this means for us and the future of online reputation management. Right now it’s a bit early, but I wanted to introduce the concept and get your thoughts.
What do you think? How can we use this for hotels?
In conversations I’ve had with hotel managers, there seems to be a recurring question about hotel reputation analysis:
How many online guest reviews is sufficient?
What review volume should be considered successful? 10, 50, 150 per month?
What if I have 5 rooms? 1,000 rooms?
Since this varies so widely from property to property, let’s use a new metric:
Reservations-to-review conversion rate
Take your monthly review volume, divide by the number of reservations a property has each month, and calculate the conversion rate.
Take steps to encourage more reviews, and track your progress over time.
What do you think?
[Update 2/20/2011: Thank you, Alistar and Marc, for your advice in calculating this number]
I’m pleased to announce the publishing of my latest guide in collaboration with ReviewPro:
How to Respond to Online Reviews
Download this PDF guide now to learn all you need to know about responding to reviews:
- Why review responses are so important for hotels
- A chart showing what sites allow you to respond to reviews
- Basic tips for responding to reviews
- How to respond to positive reviews
- How to respond to negative reviews
- How to respond to Twitter reviews and mentions
- The best way to reward reviewers and brand evangelists
This week at EyeForTravel’s Atlanta event I’ll be sharing how we can find meaning from chaos in all the online reviews and social media mentions travel companies see today. My intention is to explore some ways we might gather meaningful insight from the rapidly increasing amounts of customer data available on the web.
The challenge we face
Travelers are dramatically increasing the volume of data they publish to the web – both intentionally and unintentionally. Cross-posting between social media networks and increasing integration means that one activity may be posted across 10 different websites.
For example, when I check into a coffeeshop using the Gowalla application on my mobile phone, that activity is recorded in Gowalla, cross-posted to Foursquare, sends a Twitter update, notifies my Facebook friends, and updates my Tumblr.
The challenge – and potential danger – we face here is that if your organization doesn’t have the right systems and procedures in place to gather insights you can quickly be overwhelmed by data.
(This is even worse if you don’t even know exactly what you’re looking for in all the social media mentions out there.)
The reason for social media communication
Feeling overwhelmed by a huge amount of data often leads to inaction. And this is very dangerous because the whole purpose of monitoring the social web and taking part in conversations there is so you can take action on them.
Generate insights to act on
It’s important to avoid “true but useless” intelligence, and focus exclusively on creating reports that provide insights you can use immediately. It should not take a “social media guru” to make sense of the feedback your customers give you.
Your action step: Create very, very specific social media intelligence reports for each person within your organization.
Instead of one person looking at overview summaries, gaining a competitive advantage requires everyone on your team to have access to position-specific data that will help them do their job better.
The big opportunity
The greatest opportunity right now is using insights from the social web for more than just marketing or PR.
It’s in developing “social companies” where customer feedback from the web is used throughout the organization: in every strategic decision, and in all day-to-day operations.
I look forward to seeing some of you in Atlanta, and I’ll post a summary of the event after for those of you who can’t make it.
For more details on the Atlanta event, see EyeForTravel’s Customer Centric Strategies for Travel page. For a tool that can help you make sense of chaos on the social web, you should get a demo of ReviewPro.
Some of you know about the Domino’s Pizza reputation fiasco – it’s become a bit of a cliche at conferences when presenters speak about the importance of online reputation management.
But you may not know about the campaign Domino’s built to fight back: Oh Yes We Did.
The way they acknowledged their critics, told the story of how they fixed the product, and used their employees as the spokespeople is a model we can learn from.
Radical transparency. Fighting fire with fire. This stuff is powerful.
It seems customer reviews are going to take a much larger role in search engine results and rankings than they have in the past. Look at this recent Google search I conducted for “eyeglasses” in San Francisco:
Local businesses dominate the top results, and reviews seem to feature very prominently in how the businesses rank.
How are you encouraging more customer reviews? How are you making sure they’re positive?
Samovar Tea Lounge is not only one of my favorite tea spots in San Francisco, it’s also a very social-savvy company. In this example, look how owner Jesse Jacobs responds to a negative review with a very thoughtful explanation.
First, the review:
….and Jesse’s reply:
A couple reasons why I like this:
- It offers explanations why this may not be the typical experience…but it’s not an excuse
- Jesse refers back to his company mission of “Creating Personal Human Connection”, which reinforces his commitment to delivering great experiences
- He provides his personal email address for followup communication if needed
Yesterday, TripAdvisor flew me out to Las Vegas for their second Master Class conference. The event detailed TripAdvisor’s expansive owner-focused developments and suggested specific ways for hoteliers to proactively manage their reputations. Daniel and I agree: it’s a great initiative. As for the conference, here are three things that they really nailed:
1. Pre-conference modules gave hoteliers a hands-on look at TripAdvisor’s newest features.
2. The speakers’ diverse backgrounds in hospitality kept things lively, and Daniel’s humorous examples grounded his professional pointers in the real world.
3. Group Q&A sessions were brief and immediately followed by opportunities for in-depth one on one discussions with presenters.
Bryan Payea – TripAdvisor’s head of Industry Relations – addressed a common concern: how to react if a guest uses the prospect of a bad TripAdvisor review to ‘blackmail’ a property?
Bryan suggests that hoteliers notify TripAdvisor of the potentially biased review ahead of time, inform guests that providing them with incentives for good reviews is against TripAdvisor’s policy and – in some districts – illegal, and remember that a very small percentage of these would-be blackmailers follow through with their threats.
Five more live-tweeted lessons:
Fun new stat from @tripadvisor, travelers are 150% more engaged on pages with 20+ photos. How many does your property share?
How do I measure social media ROI? Number of leads, conversion rate, tracking via promo codes, etc. – Natasa Christodoulidou Ph.D
Business Listings allows hotels to display link to their website, email address & telephone number on TripAdvisor – PV
Senior manager with good judgment/writing skills should respond to most negative reviews and occasional positive reviews – @dcraig
Thanks for having me, TripAdvisor; we look forward to following your progress…
Hoteliers, what do you think of these changes?
We all like to think we’re unique and special – like a snowflake – but recent research by Tealeaf is giving travel companies an alarming wakeup call.
The study suggested that an incredible 90% of UK travelers booked through a different website each and every time they make an online travel reservation.
How can we fight that trend?
Loyalty is crucial for long-term success. That’s not something new. Analysis over the past 20 years indicates it can be between 5-10 times cheaper to get an existing customer to buy from you than it is to acquire a new customer. So what can you do to get those guests and customers coming back?
Leisure travel planning typically takes place over a long period of time. The numbers vary slightly from study to study, but it’s probably fairly accurate to estimate that consumers are researching travel between 2-6 months before they make the purchase.
86% of consumers using reviews as a deciding factor
In an article published earlier this month, ComputerWorld.com reported that while the internet is killing brand loyalty, 86% of consumers are using reviews and ratings as a deciding factor in their purchasing decision. The amount of information written by consumers helps travelers feel they can avoid a bad experience if they do enough research. And the research they do is often to find reviews written by consumers like them. It’s this social proof that makes people feel secure with their purchase.
Build loyalty by making them feel secure!
According to Internet psychologist Graham Jones, websites must inspire confidence.
As the study from Tealeaf confirms, there is a large amount of browsing and going from site to site. Central to this is the assessment of trust…and central to that trust is social proof.
Human beings behave in ways designed to protect them from harm. Clearly, if many people are doing something and they don’t come to any harm, then it is ‘the right thing to do.’ As a result, people are always looking for signals on a webpage that what they are dealing with is acceptable to more than one person.
They want to see the product on offer is being used by many people–it is social proof that it is okay to buy. With holiday purchases, social proof becomes paramount.
That’s where social proof comes in…
Trust and confidence online is built through social proof. As managers, actively encouraging the creation and collection of this social proof – often in the form of online reviews – must become our top priority.
We need to turn our guests and customers into salespeople and spokespersons. This happens through creating a great experience in our hotels, and then encouraging people to talk about that online.
Monitor, collect, and re-publish
When people go online to talk about their travel experiences, that might do that anywhere. You don’t have a lot of control over this. So to take full advantage of opportunities online, use tools and systems to quickly join conversations that happen about you and about your brand wherever they take place.
And then use these conversations as an opportunity to build guest loyalty.
Think about ways you can collect and publish positive feedback on your website and marketing materials. This is the social proof that will set you apart from the claims made by others, and lead to higher customer retention.
ReviewPro provides hotel managers with access to one of the industry’s largest databases of online guest opinion: over 50 million reviews in 8 languages from 55 different travel review websites. The ReviewPro Quality Seal aggregates review scores from multiple review sites and OTAs into a single score to give your website visitors a clear picture of your overall reputation online. Get the details here.