Reputation Management Software Tools: Are They Enough?

Due to the rapid acceleration of social media and the growing desire of travelers to read reviews before booking their accommodations, more and more hotels are subscribing to reputation management software tools to assist in monitoring their social media reputations and guest responses. What they are finding, however, is that having the tools is not enough. To be successful, Lodging Interactive, an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, says that by "combining people with technology," hotels are managing their online reputations far better.

CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with hotels to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization. CoMMingle has teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies, such as Revinate, to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle provides the human resources necessary to respond to guest reviews and manage the entire guest response process on behalf of its hotel clients.

"Implementing reputation management software is good, but combining that technology with people will equal far greater results," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Here's how: Before, hoteliers had direct control over their branding and could direct people easily to their hotel. Then social media came along. Savvy travelers use Facebook, Twitter and travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, to find unbiased reviews. It only takes one unhappy guest to post a bad review, then the company's reputation is damaged, which in turn effects their sales."

To regain control over their reputations, Vallauri said “companies have developed software tools that scour the social media universe for reviews or mentions about the brand. It's like having an in-house intelligence agency providing actionable information and allowing management to see what guests like or don't like. The technology tools come equipped with sentiment analysis and workflow tools to enable each hotel or brand to engage with prospects and drive loyalty. Easy-to-use reports analyze the data, track the program's success and see how the hotel or brand is stacking up against the competition.”

"Now here's the dilemma," Vallauri added. "If the hotel doesn't have the resources available to do the aforementioned tasks (ie. analyzing the data, tracking program success and monitoring the market), the technology investment was for naught. CoMMingle is designed to complement a hotel's existing reputation-management technology tools with 'our people.' It doesn't matter what type of guest-review technology platform a hotel is using; CoMMingle can work within the tools to maximize the messaging and deliver more consistent responses."

Best Practices for Reputation Management
In a recent article titled: "Social media matures, forcing hotels to focus on reputation," Dennis Morris, director of revenue development for Meyer Jabara Hotels, said: “Reputation is so important from a customer standpoint because they read postings and believe they are real. If you are not focused on your online reputation, then what are you doing about your online reputation? There needs to be best practices in place to see that you are managing your reputation."

Lodging Interactive's Vallauri said he believes following a "Technology + People = Reputation Management" formula is a best practice that should be implemented industry wide.

"Purchasing reputation management software is only the first step in managing and monitoring a hotel's or brand's online reputation," Vallauri said. "Technology is critical to capturing information. But unless a hotel has the human resources in place to interpret that data and respond to reviews to manage their ongoing guest relationships, the technology alone isn’t the total solution. At Lodging Interactive, we understand that having the manpower to tackle these tasks is a challenge. CoMMingle brings the much needed talent to the table."

In a recent article titled: "Reputation management an evolving consideration," Associate Editor Andrew Sheivachman, wrote: "More than just proactively responding to reviews and opinions, looking at aggregated data on guest opinions can help to improve a brand's reputation." CoMMingle provides the intelligence and resources to analyze that aggregated data, and then some. Since 2009, CoMMingle has been providing social media assistance to hundreds of hotels. For more information about CoMMingle, visit http://www.commingle.me/.

5 Steps to Manage Negative Guest Reviews Every Hotel Should Know

With 75% of online travel buyers checking at least three reviews sites before booking online, not responding to a negative guest review post which is read by thousands of potential guests could result in severe revenue consequences. Unfortunately, many hoteliers do not take the time (or have the time) to respond. Lodging Interactive has developed an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System that enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website, making managing the response process far easier and much quicker for management.

Lodging Interactive is an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry for the past ten years. The company's Guest Review System is a web-based tool that is successfully helping hotels verify, review and display customer comments directly on their websites. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty.

"Remember when your mother said: 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?' Those days are long gone, and rightly so when it comes to online customer reviews," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Posting comments about bad experiences is a good way to warn consumers about shoddy business practices and inferior products and services.

"In the hospitality arena, warning travelers about poor hotel accommodations and inadequate service has fueled management to raise the bar on standards and strive to continually do better," he said. "That's a good thing for travelers, owners and the industry overall, because negative reviews give owners and operators an opportunity to fight back and use social media to turn unhappy customers into brand advocates, and actually win back guests, thereby driving loyalty."

A study conducted online by Harris Interactive found that 68% of consumers who posted a complaint or negative review on a social networking or ratings/review site after a negative experience got a response from the business. Of those, 18% turned into loyal customers. By listening and proactively responding on the review site to the customer, businesses were able to turn disgruntled consumers into social advocates. The survey also found that, of those who received a reply in response to their negative review, 33% turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review.

While some hoteliers are still wary of negative reviews, fearing that they are simply propaganda started by competitors, Vallauri said "responding" is key to preserving a hotel's online reputation.

The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted to their web site. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website.

"Establishing an online Guest Review System gives owners and operators control over what they want to display on their website," Vallauri said. "It boosts the hotel's credibility and displays trustworthiness on behalf of management. Not only can management capture lost potentially business from third-party review sites, but they can vastly improve communications with guests. After all, that's what hospitality is all about."

Lodging Interactive offers the following 5 Tips for responding to negative reviews:
1. Thank the guest for his or her comment
2. Acknowledge that there was a problem and offer an explanation
3. Tell how the situation is being corrected to improve the guest's experience
4. Invite ongoing communication and provide direct management contact information
5. Encourage the guest to return

"The fact that a negative comment occurred isn't the issue; Rather it's how the company responds to the bad review is key to maintaining an impeccable online reputation," Vallauri said. "When a negative comment arises, it's critical that the hotelier respond as quickly as possible. Be thankful, polite, and respectful of guests, even if you feel their complaint is not warranted. Remain calm and always be courteous. Tell the guest how you are going to address their complaints, and what the next steps are. Tell the guest that you take his or her complaint seriously, and that there is a plan in place to resolve the matter. More importantly, give him or her a way to stay in touch with you, and invite further feedback."

With Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System, hotels can be up and running in 10 minutes. If finding the time to respond is an issue, Lodging Interactive is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf.

"It's important for independent hotel owners and operators to know that they can easily and affordably compete with brand Guest Review programs and take control of their online reputations today through Lodging Interactive," Vallauri said.

Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. For more information, visit http://www.guestreviewsystem.com. The company will be exhibiting at the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Atlanta May 2 to 5 at the Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center in Booth No. 124.

Lodging Interactive Offering Free Mobile Website to NEW Customers Signing Full Agency Services

Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency
exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, is offering FREE Mobile
Website Development
to all new customers contracting full agency
services. Any hotel company partnering with Lodging Interactive for website
design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and
online reputation management beginning May 2 with the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. (AAHOA) Convention through the Hotel Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) June 25-28 in Baltimore are eligible.

With a mobile website, hotels can offer mobile users a dynamic and streamlined user
experience regardless of mobile device. Up to 10 static pages will be provided
as part of the package, with an option to purchase more. Pages can detail the
property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages,
restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online
reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions,
click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention
and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more. Mobile
website management and hosting also is provided by Lodging Interactive.

"We understand just how important it is for hotels to have a mobile web strategy today," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Industry analysts predict that
the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015. Therefore
there's no time like the present to jump on the mobile bandwagon and start
reaching mobile savvy travelers via the channels and devices they depend on
daily."

Hotels interested in launching a new mobile website can visit Lodging Interactive at both the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Atlanta May 2 to 5 at the Omni Hotel and the
Georgia World Congress Center in Booth No. 124 or they can call 877-291-4411
ext. 701 to get started. Deadline for the FREE service is June 28, 2012.

Technology + People = Reputation Management

Is your hotel using its reputation management software to its fullest potential? Are you responding to guest reviews in a timely manner? Are the reports you are generating being analyzed to correct issues in operations or guest services? For the majority of hotels, the answer likely is "no." Adopting social media technologies that monitor a hotel's or brand's online reputation is critical today to better connect with travelers. But unless those tools are being maximized, reputations and business practices can still suffer.

CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive has teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle will provide the human resources necessary to answer guest reviews and manage guest responses on behalf of the hotel.

Consider this data provided by ReviewPro:

• A negative review or comment on the Twitter, Facebook or You Tube Web sites can lose companies as many as 30 customers (Convergys Corp)
• 92% of Internet users read product reviews and 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decision. (e-tailing group)
• 85% of executives use social media during a purchase decision (Forrester research)
• TripAdvisor reviews are viewed three times more often on partner websites than on TripAdvisor.com (Tnooz)
• 69% of online shoppers said they trusted the Internet for advice, vs. 43% for magazines and 35% for TV (Yahoo)

"With guest review management becoming critical to the success or failure of a hotel's social media program — and its online marketing campaign overall — hotels would be remiss not to dedicate a full time team to social media monitoring," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "But let's face it, unless you are a mega brand or luxury resort, finding the financial or human resources to monitor social channels to their full potential and creating effective responses to guest reviews in a timely fashion, is increasingly difficult. That's where CoMMingle comes in.

"We have spent the last few years building relationships with guest-review companies so that we can complement their technology with 'our people,'" Vallauri said. "Hotels that are using systems such as Revinate, for example, can outsource social media monitoring and guest review responses to us. Our teams log in as the hotel, and reply to guest reviews accordingly, always keeping the hotel apprised of comments and alerting it to concerns. It doesn't matter what type of guest-review technology platform a hotel is using; CoMMingle can work within the tools to maximize the messaging and deliver more consistent responses. Hotel General Managers especially appreciate this service, since it saves them considerable time in personally responding to reviews."

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with its customers to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization. CoMMingle is designed to assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

Technology + People = Success
Revinate is a software platform designed exclusively for the hospitality industry that makes it easy for hotels to take control of their online reputation by using online reviews and social media to learn from and connect with travelers. CoMMingle works side-by-side with Revinate customers to provide staff to respond to the reviews.

"As a software company, we provide software, extensive training and best practices, but look to partners for managed services," said Marc Heyneker, Revinate Co-Founder and VP of Sales. "Having partners such as Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle division handling the social media at hotels makes it a very robust solution for online reputation management — as well as using data to drive operational changes and engage with clients. Revinate provides the technology backbone, while CoMMingle serves as the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired."

CoMMingle has been providing social media assistance to hundreds of hotels since 2009. The company works closely with each property to understand its goals and objectives, then crafts a strategic plan, backed by proprietary technologies and experienced social media marketers.

"Hoteliers need to understand that just because they purchase reputation management software, it can only do so much to improve communication between the property and its guests," Vallauri said. "While hotels receive a dashboard of information as to how the property and its service is perceived by travelers, it also needs to interpret that data and respond to reviews to manage their ongoing relationships with guests. That alone can get overwhelming. CoMMingle, however, is able to help."