Online Guest Reviews Replacing Need for Star Ratings, Surveys

According to newBrandAnalytics, in 2012 online customer reviews rose by 25 percent. In an article titled "Social Intelligence Trends for 2013," the social market intelligence group said: "The explosion of online customer feedback is transforming how businesses will use social intelligence to deliver a quality customer experience." newBrandAnalytics predicts that businesses will stop investing in solicited surveys in 2013 due to consistent, reliable and free customer feedback coming from the web via guest reviews. The company also predicts that star ratings will become a thing of the past, as they are being recognized by consumers and businesses as "misleading, unreliable and not actionable." Instead, "consumers will seek verbatim reviews in making their purchase decisions; businesses will decipher the true meaning and uncover important themes discussed in these unstructured reviews to drive improvements." 

With travelers now using smartphones and tablets for making hotel reservations, remote check-in/-out, mobile room keys, etc., hotels are fast becoming mobile-rich environments. While the dramatic shift from PCs to smartphones/tablets is providing travelers with unprecedented conveniences, it poses new challenges to owners and operators for reputation management. Should a hotel guest have a bad experience, he or she can tell the world — or at least his or her personal universe — in a matter of seconds. Lodging Interactive, hospitality's leading provider of interactive Internet marketing services, proposes that hoteliers prioritize adding online guest review processes to their websites in 2013. By responding instantly to travelers about their stay experience, hotels are improving customer relations and turning around a potentially damaging situation and much more.

Lodging Interactive Founder and President DJ Vallauri says the business intelligence driven by its Guest Review Systems is vital, and in many cases, it is replacing other costly procedures.

"Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System was hugely successful in 2012 for a number of reasons," Vallauri said. "First, GRS technology is enabling hotels to do things never before possible. By encouraging guests to leave a review on the hotel's website — not on the OTA — hotels are maintaining control over the guest experience, the guest relationship and the hotel's reputation. Directing guests to the hotel's website to post comments and reviews keeps them from being redirected to an OTA where they will never come back to book direct. By implementing a web-based Guest Review System, hotels are removing OTA's from the equation and taking ownership of the guest-communication process. Second, private replies to the guest are sometimes warranted. Lodging Interactive's GRS dashboard provides hotel managers with the reviewers email address, facilitating direct-to-guest communication. You can't do that on OTA's. Capturing this critical data goes a long way in establishing and maintaining loyalty and supporting future marketing efforts. Third, a review posted to the hotel's proprietary website gives management the ability to validate that the guest is real before the review is posted publically. Again, that can't be done on OTA's. For years hotels have turned over control of their inventory to third parties. They shouldn't be at the mercy of OTA's for guest reviews too. It's time to take a stand."

Providing a repository for online guest reviews also serves as an important way to hold employees accountable for their performance. According to newBrandAnalytics, "social intelligence will drive the real-time 360° performance evaluation system of the future." Hotels can find immediate value in using online guest feedback to "assess performance, make hiring/firing decisions, and motivate staff."

Fueling the Social Channels
Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System ensures there are no delays in communication, and the  appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property or has the opportunity to post negative reviews on third-party websites. Additionally, travelers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Because the Lodging Interactive GRS validates the legitimacy of the guest, hoteliers can rest assured that reviews posted on the social channels are valid. 

Lodging Interactive is now offering a FREE 10-day trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign, no credit card required, and hotels can cancel anytime. Click here to begin.

"There has never been a more critical time for hotels to add an online Guest Review System to their websites and social media channels, especially since close to 50 percent of consumers said they will not book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews (Forrester Research)," Vallauri said. "If you don't have the time, knowledge or resources to manage this process, Lodging Interactive is here to help — affordably."

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