The Wilshire Grand Hotel Raving about Lodging Interactive’s Guest Review System

The Wilshire Grand Hotel is taking control of its online reputation by implementing the new, web-based Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive. This tool enables The Wilshire Grand Hotel to verify, review and display customer comments directly on its Website, and instantly post management responses to comments for better hotel-to-guest communications and heightened customer-relationship management.

Lodging Interactive is an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The company's Guest Review System posts traveler's comments and scores their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

"I'm a big believer in soliciting guest reviews, but unfortunately, due to the nature of the Web, there's no real way to validate whether or not a person claiming to be a guest with a bad experience actually stayed at your hotel," said General Manager Ed Reagoso. "The Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive puts a stop to fake reviews posted by competitors or dishonest guests looking for refunds. This not only helps us to maintain our impeccable reputation, but it gives me an opportunity to interact personally with our guests. When travelers take the time to honestly talk about their experience, it should be recognized and rewarded with an immediate reply.

"Thanks to the automated GRS tool, I can personally post responses to comments quickly,"
he said. "Not every hotel review site makes that type of interaction possible. It's not only great customer service, but it gives me the chance to really sell our hotel. Almost daily our reservations agents hear from guests who say they read the reviews on our site and truly appreciate that we took the time to respond. We attribute it all to Lodging Interactive and the excellent training they provide to us as part of their service."

An added benefit of the Guest Review System is that it enables travelers to share their reviews on Facebook with 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.

"Lodging Interactive does an exceptional job for The Wilshire Grand Hotel of optimizing our web presence and providing us with the tools and training we need to truly enhance our guests' experiences and keep them coming back again and again," Reagoso said.




The Value Of Hotel Guest Reviews By Lodging Interactive

It’s no secret to anyone by now that user generated content (“UGC”) in the form of guest reviews continues to be on the rise.  It seems as if there are new websites popping up everywhere to empower the consumer to provide their perspective as it relates to their experience with your business.  This sharing process is a natural evolution in social media and it is especially important for hoteliers to take it seriously and not “blow it off” as we have seen many do.

According to the recently published PhoCusWright Social Media In Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity & Sentiment report, the volume of posted hotel reviews in the U.S. alone has grown from 880,000 in 2008 to nearly 1.1 million in 2010.  The average number of posted hotel reviews per month, per 100 rooms,  was also up significantly from 2.5 reviews in 2009 to 3.1 in 2010.  Interestingly the report also stated that properties in the one, two and three star categories all saw a significant increase in guest review posts while four and five star properties both saw declines.

Unfortunately some General Managers still believe most negative hotel reviews are “planted” by their competition or posted by disgruntled guests looking for freebies or refunds.  While we have seen much evidence of this on review sites, and some hotels are reportedly banding together to form a class action defamation lawsuit against TripAdvisor, we believe all posted reviews should be dealt with as if 100% sincere; posted guest reviews do effect revenue opportunities for the property.

Studies have shown that 75% of online travel buyers will check at least three reviews sites before booking online.  Now imagine a hotel that doesn’t respond to a negative guest review post which is read by thousands of potential guests.  The revenue impact to the property is real and when you consider the cost involved to initially acquire the interest of that potential guest it is fiscally irresponsible to no respond to negative guest review posts; yet so many hoteliers do not reply.  The PhoCusWright Social Media In Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity & Sentiment report also describes that visitors to Online Travel Agency (“OTA”) hotel review pages are significantly more likely to book on hotel websites, and convert at a rate of 13-14% versus the average hotel conversion of 8-9%.  In support of the report, we have always recommended our clients respond to all guest review posts regardless the comment sentiment being negative or positive.

While there are many tools and services on the market, including our own Chatter Guard Online Reputation Management Services, to help hotels identify and manage their guest review posts, responding to posts is time consuming especially when posting responses on multiple review sites.  Moreover, beyond the overall sentiment scoring, careful focus should be placed on scoring guest review posts based on service attributes to ensure operational improvements are made in the problem areas.  We recommend our clients meet regularly to discuss guest review post areas of concern based on departmental attributes such as housekeeping, food & beverage, staff, etc.  Hoteliers should make the most of guest review posts to improve their overall service levels.