Posted: 23 May 2012 04:00 PM PDT
For a hotel’s operations staff, daily and trended reports of guest satisfaction surveys (or solicited guest feedback) provide critical insights into operational performance.
However, for a comprehensive view of a hotel’s operations, unsolicited guest feedback in the form of social media completes the picture.
A hotel’s social media further enhances the insights from solicited feedback in three key ways:
Where social media complements solicited guest surveys is in its unstructured, organic nature. Because social media is an open canvas, guests’ comments have no boundaries. What’s even better is that you can be certain you’re reading guests’ honest opinions, as they are posting by their own free will, instead of responding to a surveyor’s questions.
For hotels that are part of a chain where local properties have their own distinct characteristics, social media often surfaces these unique selling points.
As consumers conduct more research on the web about where to stay, the unique selling points may very well be the added value that swings consumers towards your property and away from a competitor.
Hence it’s in the property’s best interest to understand what these areas are, and to subsequently ensure operational excellence in each of them. At the same time, it’s important to compare guest satisfaction in solicited surveys with the guest satisfaction in social media to identify consistencies and inconsistencies. If gaps exist, then hotel management should investigate why.
One very consistent example we see across the social media of many hotels is Internet Access. Based on our analysis of over 13,000 hotels in Asia-Pacific, we found Internet Access to be the most complained about topic in the guest experience, with the complaints surrounding speed, reliability, and price. However, as most hotels in Asia-Pacific do not ask about this attribute in their solicited guest surveys, they are missing an important data point in understanding their operations.
Even if a hotel does ask about its Internet Access, it doesn’t ask specifically about its guests’ satisfaction levels along the dimensions of speed, reliability, and price. This example illustrates a disconnect between what operations is optimizing for, versus what guests are actually discussing. Given that Internet Access is increasingly influencing prospective guests’ purchase decisions, it’s imperative that a hotel account for such examples.
1) Going beyond what the survey asks
2) Uncovering the emotional drivers
3) Discovering new standards
We explain the details of each in the following sections.
** But first, an important caveat. Linking social media to operations must be done very carefully. We’ve seen hotels make knee-jerk operational changes based on the strong opinions of a few travelers that are posted in a very short amount of time. Because of its public nature, social media can send hotel teams into a frenzy, when the opinions and experiences of a few may not represent the majority of the hotel’s guests.
While a few reviews about a negative checkin experience or an aging room product should inspire internal conversations, they don’t necessarily warrant significant changes be made overnight. When looking at social media from an operations perspective, a hotel must consider a sufficient quantity of reviews over an ample time period to represent a statistically significant population of guest feedback.
For an individual hotel, the quantity of reviews within a given week or month is usually not enough. We recommend small to mid-sized hotels consider at least 12-months of social media data, and large hotels consider at least 6-months of social media data. Analytics tools make looking back 6 or 12 months an easy task, and something a hotel can do immediately.
Going beyond what the survey asks
Solicited feedback from guest satisfaction surveys or in-room comment cards highlights operational issues in predefined areas. Traditional guest surveys ask a set of questions chosen by the hotel, resulting in regular structured feedback in the selected operational areas. Major providers like Medallia, Synovate, LRA Worldwide, and Market Metrix are well-known providers of traditional guest satisfaction solutions.