What are the best hotels in Berlin? ReviewPro ranking shows Top 10 as rated by guests (Plus: Why this matters to you)

reputation management for hotels

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.

So…

What are the best hotels in Berlin?

According to the study, they are:

  1. The Ritz-Carlton Berlin (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company), GRI: 94.69%
  2. The Regent Berlin (Rezidor Hotel Group), GRI: 94.36%
  3. Casa Camper Berlin (Casa Camper), GRI: 94.02%
  4. Alma Schlosshotel im Grunewald (AlmaHotels), GRI: 93.93%
  5. The Circus Hotel (The Circus), GRI: 93.88%
  6. Grand Hyatt Berlin (Hyatt Hotels Corporation), GRI: 93.16%
  7. Adlon Kempinski Berlin (Kempinski Hotels), GRI: 92.85%
  8. Swissôtel Berlin (Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts), GRI: 92.57%
  9. Hotel de Rome (The Rocco Forte Collection), GRI: 92.47%
  10. The Mandala Hotel (The Mandala Hotel GmbH), GRI: 92.22%

[You can see the full story here.]

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:

  1. Do guests consider your properties among the best hotels in your city? How would you know?
  2. How do guests view your hotel compared to your competitors?
  3. What is your plan to continually improve your online reputation ranking?

Likeonomics, microinfluence, and time-starved reviewers

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.

Microreviews

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?

Hotel reputation management’s missing metric

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]

Free Guide: How Hotels Should Respond to Online Reviews

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

Extracting meaning from chaos in social media

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.

Oh Yes We Did (Or, how to fight fire with fire)

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.

Customer reviews playing a much larger role in Google search results

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?

Also see: 2011 trends in online reputation management (Tnooz) and ReviewPro – the customer intelligence tool for hotels.

Jesse Jacobs shows how to respond to a negative Yelp review

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:

  1. It offers explanations why this may not be the typical experience…but it’s not an excuse
  2. Jesse refers back to his company mission of “Creating Personal Human Connection”, which reinforces his commitment to delivering great experiences
  3. He provides his personal email address for followup communication if needed

Three things TripAdvisor’s Master Class did right

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?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


@dcraig Don’t focus 100% on social media; in Facebook people are socializing, in Tripadvisor people are shopping. #smtravel.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck


How do I measure social media ROI? Number of leads, conversion rate, tracking via promo codes, etc. – Natasa Christodoulidou Ph.Dless than a minute ago via web


Business Listings allows hotels to display link to their website, email address & telephone number on TripAdvisor – PVless than a minute ago via web


Senior manager with good judgment/writing skills should respond to most negative reviews and occasional positive reviews – @dcraigless than a minute ago via web

Thanks for having me, TripAdvisor; we look forward to following your progress…

Hoteliers, what do you think of these changes?

90% of travelers ready to book elsewhere (You’re only unique if guests say you are)

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.

How Martin Rosberg found beautiful photography of his own hotel by monitoring the social web

We often talk about online monitoring in the context of reputation management, but there are other benefits as well. A big opportunity is discovering content created guests that you can use in your digital communications. (A concept I call “guestsourcing“)

That’s exactly what HMS Insider’s Circle partner Martin Rosberg did at the Fierro Hotel this week.

Through a Google Alert he set up, he discovered these beautiful photos on Flickr that were taken by a guest at their breakfast:

Martin then wisely passed the photos along to his other followers on Twitter and their Facebook page:

Are you monitoring online activity so that you could catch opportunities like this for your hotel? I recommend starting by setting up Google alerts, and then using a tool like ReviewPro to run a more sophisticated listening program.

Remember: Make your guests part of your sales & marketing team through guestsourcing!

How to encourage guests to write online reviews [Video]

Daniel Edward Craig is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of online reputation management. A while back I brought him in for some training for my Insider’s Circle partner hotels, but just wanted to share a little video excerpt on his approach to asking for guest reviews:

Also, in case you haven’t seen it yet, my recent post on how to write a guest thank you letter has generated a lot of intelligent discussion with practical tips from industry leaders. You really should read their thoughts on this now

Writing a thank you email to encourage online reviews [Examples]

I recently re-wrote a thank-you e-mail that one of my clients was using to ask for online reviews from satisfied guests.

If you’re not doing this yet, it’s a great practice. Anytime someone says something positive about your hotel or you get an e-mail with some positive feedback, you should have some sort of a system for asking these people to share their experiences with others online.

Below you can see the message they were using, and how we re-wrote it.

Before:

Dear NAME

Thank you for choosing HOTEL for your recent stay in CITY. We have read your comments about the hotel and we greatly appreciate that you took the time to write them, as our guests’ satisfaction is our main priority.

We invite you, please, to share your opinion on the TripAdvisor website (website for travelers’ opinions) using the following link:

[Tripadvisor link]

It is very important for us that our guests’ experiences are shared.

It was a pleasure to have you as our guest. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your collaboration and we hope to see you again soon at HOTEL.

Management

HOTEL, CITY

After:

Hello NAME,

Thank you for choosing HOTEL for your recent stay in CITY. I was delighted to hear you had an enjoyable time at our hotel.

At your convenience, would you please take a moment to share your experience online with your friends and others on your favorite travel review website?

Is was a pleasure to have you as our guest. We hope to see you again soon.

– STAFF NAME
HOTEL

Direct phone:
Personal email:

See what others have said about our hotel on TripAdvisor:

[TripAdvisor hotel link]

This re-write accomplishes several things

It comes from an individual person instead of the entire hotel. Response rates typically increase when e-mail comes from one person.

It’s less about the hotel and more focused on the guest. A guest may not care what is important to the hotel, so we need to position this request as a way for them to share an experience with friends.

It’s a bit shorter, so that the message intent is very clear.

It is less TripAdvisor-specific. It’s more of an invitation for people to talk about us in a manner that suits them best online – whether that’s TripAdvisor, Twitter, or another site.

It’s good to encourage reviews anywhere the guest prefers.

What does your thank you email look like?

What Not to Tweet

Which topics should hotels, or any company, avoid completely on Twitter? And how can you maintain authenticity without risking professional credibility and customer relationships?

Hospitality and marketing experts weigh in on what NOT to tweet:


@swimkatieclapp Politics, snarky replies?less than a minute ago via HootSuite


@swimkatieclapp the only thing I can say is personal info and stating the obviousless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®


@swimkatieclapp I am ok with all topics that supports a two-way goodwill, porn is off topicless than a minute ago via TweetDeck



@swimkatieclapp Good question. Hotels shouldn’t tweet about bedbugs, celebrity meltdowns, relocates & bad reviews. Oh, and boring stuff.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck



@swimkatieclapp hotels should tweet about any topic as long as its not confidential. Tweets should be informative, not just offer drivenless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Specific topics aside, projecting a positive attitude and sincere respect for customers is the #1 way to tweet freely. If you’re still not sure where to draw the line, check your tweets against these four questions.

1. Would I make this statement to a guest’s face?

It’s easier to drop insensitive or abrasive remarks when we can’t experience their face-to-face consequences, and Twitter amplifies this effect and feelings of anonymity by primarily hosting one-way conversations. Don’t be mistaken. You are communicating with real people: guests, business partners, employers, and journalists.

Tweet this:


@sfoley Sorry to hear of your experience. We spoke to the MOD & understand you’ve already spoken to them. DM if we can help during your stayless than a minute ago via CoTweet

Not that: Why do families think it’s ok to let kids run wild around the pool?!

2. Would I feel comfortable with my tweet appearing in a respected industry magazine?…

Or on the news? Or on a competitor’s website? Or in a court of law?

The internet is forever. Avoid statements that you can’t publicly endorse and comfortably defend.

Tweet this:


Thank you to Westjet’s Up Magazine for recommening Centro as a great accommodation choice in Calgary http://fb.me/yMPH7c22less than a minute ago via Facebook

Not that: We finally have new bathroom tiles & Josiah gets tax-free spending cash ;) Awesome!

3. Does this comment make sense to a first-time visitor?

Remember that context is key; new readers don’t have any. Conduct off-topic conversations through private messages or accounts, and frequently assess your feed with “fresh eyes” to ensure warm, welcoming and inclusive first impressions.

Tweet this:


@rgomezsalgado We are in soft-opening mode right now. Expect to be fully opened by mid October.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Not that: @HMarketingHelp burritos after work today??

4. Do I sound like a real person?

Redundant streams of generic offers, phone numbers and bland descriptions will be ignored by potential guests, and waste Twitter’s potential as a communication platform. When appropriate, employ light humor, fun observations, and surprising facts to engage and entertain followers. Through our research, we’ve found this to be the most common misuse of Twitter by businesses.

Tweet this:


A little early, I know, but I’m REALLY excited for the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival! http://ow.ly/1gEtw ^Sless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Not that:

Follow our featured tweeters for more technology, marketing and hospitality industry tips.

99 Hotel Marketing Strategies stole my brand (Dealing with Brand Hijackers)

Alright, I know Hotel Marketing Strategies isn’t exactly a unique name. But I think it’s safe to say that within the online hotel community, I’ve built it into the #1 source of original hotel marketing content over the past few years.

Since HotelMarketingStrategies.com has a top-2 ranking in Google for the ultra-competitive phrase Hotel Marketing (~34 million results), I know there are dozens of other websites gunning for my position. A lot of “gurus” and agencies are pissed off that they can’t walk the talk and use their great SEO strategies for their own websites.

But competition is good. I like it. May the best websites win.

What makes me angry is when someone tries to cheat and hijack the brand I’ve built here to accomplish this.

Which is what 99HotelMarketingStrategies.com appears to be doing.

Published by an Italian company, Futura Hospitality, it promises to include hotel marketing tips. “The first guide of its type ever” Not true. My own guide – 1001 Hotel Marketing Ideas – came out at least 5 months earlier – and I know there were other digital guides before mine.

My team is evaluating legal action on this, but for obvious reasons I’m not going to discuss that here.

Even if Futura is not doing this intentionally, it’s still a big issue. Negligence in doing research to avoid trademark infringement before launch of a website like this is a fault.

I’m fully aware that writing this post may send a lot of traffic their way. They’ll probably make a bunch of sales too.

But this is a reputation issue. So to clarify: I am not in any way affiliated with 99 Hotel Marketing Strategies or 99HotelMarketingStrategies.com.

I know this post may come off as a rant. And it is. But you know my goal here: to keep it real and walk through everyday, real-world scenarios.

So what are the lessons for you?

Be aware of other websites and organizations trying to steal traffic off the brand you have established.

Be vocal in clarifying the (non)relationship. I’ve seen several hotels face impersonators in social media and elsewhere – being silent about this isn’t the solution. Make sure people know you’re not affiliated to minimize brand damage.

Which phrases should you monitor for hotel reputation management?

If you’re setting up Hootsuite or Google alerts, which phrases should you use to monitor the web for mentions of your hotel?

Start out by trying some of these…

  • Your Hotel Name (broad match)
  • “Your Hotel Name” (phrase match)
  • Your Hotel Name + City (include location if your name is generic)
  • Previous names of your property
  • Names of your restaurants and bars
  • Your owners or management company
  • Your General Manager’s name
  • Your concierge
  • Your competitors (what are they up to?)
  • Names of journalists or bloggers relevant to your niche or location
  • Content generated within your geographic location itself (Twitter location searches makes this easy)
  • Searches with location-based intent (eg, Yourcity + hotel; Yourcity + event)

Your reputation monitoring list is something you need to test. No one group of keywords is right for every situation. But hopefully these will give you some ideas for starting out.

If you’re an Insider’s Circle member, sign in to access our keyword generator that produces a big list of ready-to-use search terms around this concept.