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Dynamic versus static hotel reviews

Posted by TeamITI on May 19, 2010

It used to be that Trip Advisor was the only major player in hotel reviews. However, consumers now have many other ways to vent frustrations or express positive experiences – and they’re all online on their phones accessing social media platforms.

Two consumer trends are converging in the hotel review process. The first one is the adoption of Smart Phones as a primary communication tool and the second is the ‘immediacy’ consumer, one that wants to communicate their experiences and touch their communities in the ‘now’. Neither of these trends are going away. eMarketing predicts that mobile and Smart Phones are going to double in the next two years.  (12/19/09)

Consumers can update their social network pages via the apps that are available on their phones. They can push out Tweets on Twitter and post to their FaceBook wall the experiences they have. They can also access review sites like Yelp to immediately post comments. Trip Advisor has developed a mobile phone optimized web site for hotel reviews that provides a range of reviews useful in local hotel selection however; posting a new review is not as straightforward.

Consider the following anecdotal experiences. Several families are traveling together to a resort with kids and a grandparent to look after the kids so the adults can ‘play’. The resort is positive experience for them. One of the men is Twittering to his co-workers back at the office about how terrific the resort is. One of the women has taken pictures with her phone and is uploading them to her FaceBook wall with the same positive review of the facility and the grandparent is also posting to her FaceBook friends about the experience. The kids are posting to their MySpace pages about how ‘cool’ the place is! Three generations using their phones and social media to send out positive reviews.

A guest is experiencing issues checking into her hotel. The wait is long and the front desk team is less than empathetic to her situation. She Tweets her experience to her followers on Twitter.  However, this hotel company has a monitoring service that picks up on these negative mentions and is able to immediately get to the hotel manager to rectify the situation. They are able to turn the negative Tweets into a positive experience that is also communicated by the guest to her Followers and Friends. Both of these anecdotes illustrate the ‘immediacy’ of reviews on social networks.

There are sophisticated monitoring tools at various price points that can ‘pick up’ immediate mentions on social networks as in the second scenario and ‘save’ the transaction and the guest experience. However, what can smaller or independent properties with limited budgets do to monitor their reputation on social networks?

The Budget vs. the Online Reputation
While a recovery is slowly taking hold for the hotel community, budgets are still very tight.  However, if the money is available, there are a multitude of tools that can assist in monitoring social network reviews.  Revinate is a site that monitors social media just for hotels. It provides the property with a complete dashboard that includes all mentions of the hotel and its competition across review sites, Twitter, blogs, news, photo and video sites as well as all mentions of your competition across those sites. TravelClick offers Searchview and Chatter Guard from Lodging Interactive also offer a product that will monitor social media and provide a dashboard for the property to view the data in one place. There are a number of others, too many to mention, at various price points to enable social media monitoring. All of them allow hotels to monitor social network mentions and respond accordingly.

Free and/or Really Cheap Tools
SocialMention.com is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the internet into a single stream of information. It charges a nominal amount for some business applications but much of it is free including Social Alerts specifically for social media. Buzzmonitor is an embeddable widget showing recent instances of your search term. Twitterdom.com offers a multitude of apps, most free, some at a nominal cost. Twit3, a monitoring app, has been replaced by Spindex, an experimental social aggregator from Microsoft. It supports Twitter, FaceBook, Evernote, and RSS currently.

Google Tools
Google Tools are mostly free and get the job done. There are so many, it deserves its own section. Google Reader allows a hotel to enter up to 14 web pages to monitor and receive results instantly. It will also mark those that have already been read.  Good old Google Alerts allows key words to be entered and receive an update daily or whenever something new is posted on a web site or blog.  Google Alerts handles social media relatively well but does not include Tweets. You can enter your hotel name, your competitor’s names and receive emails of mentions of them any time they appear on the internet.  ‘Social up’ the web site or blog with Google Friends. On the Gadget page for Google Friend Connect there are eight gadgets that allow visitors to the site or blog to interact with each other and the property, post comments, participate in polls, etc.
Smaller and independent hotels do have low cost or free resources that enable them to access and respond to the ‘immediate’ social network reviews and comments made about them. It all depends on your social media presence and what information in terms of monitoring is important to you. Timely responses to negative or problematic mentions are the actions that allow you to manage your social media presence.
After consulting and presenting seminars on this topic, it is apparent that social media site build out for optimal lead generation is a daunting task for many properties from independents, independent franchises and B&Bs. Posting and monitoring don’t have to be complicated.

This article is published by hotelmarketing.com, please read the original article here.

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