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Three Ways Hotels Drive Measurable Revenue Growth with Social Analytics
By Josiah Mackenzie
One of the most revolutionary trends happening in hotel technology right now is the use of social media data and customer review analytics in optimizing distribution and maximizing revenue growth.
For many of the hotel companies we work with — from small boutique collections to the world’s largest brands — this is the missing piece in the social ROI puzzle.
I’ve written before how CEOs of hotel brands around the world are recognizing the link between guest satisfaction and financial performance. We’ve also seen study after study reveal the role of online reviews in the consumer’s buying process.
While these benefits are very real and must not be ignored, in this article I want to briefly cover three of the ways hoteliers are using review analytics to proactively drive measurable revenue growth:
Revenue strategy #1: Maximizing pricing
The big idea: Consumers are willing to pay more — 38% more, according to comScore — for hotels with online reviews that indicate superior service.
How hotels are using this to make more money: Hotel revenue managers are analyzing the Global Review IndexTM for hotels in their portfolio, comparing it with the hotels’ competitor sets to identify opportunity for price increases. If a hotel has a much higher reputation in its competitor set of similarly-priced hotels, that hotel’s rate can often be raised without losing occupancy.
One of our clients tried this on a small scale at first. With a few of their properties, they tested raising rates $5/night on several channels where they had very strong online reputations. There was no reduction in the booking volume. So they raised rates $5 more. Still, there was no damage to overall occupancy. After trying a third price increase, they began noticing a decline in overall bookings, so they kept the $10/night price premium in place, and attributed the additional revenue to the insight obtained through reputation benchmarking.
The payoff: Higher ADR, higher overall yield.
Revenue strategy #2: Optimizing channel distribution
The big idea: Different hotel review websites are popular with different audiences. Additionally, booking commissions vary widely among online travel agencies and distribution partners. A global perspective of activity across all these sources makes it possible to optimize distribution.
How hotels are using this to make more money: By taking steps to increase guest satisfaction — and encouraging reviews across as many channels as possible — hoteliers are strategically growing their business globally.
Our clients look at source indexes to understand both the quality and quantity of feedback across review sources worldwide.
Once they identify a hotel’s performance, management can take a number of actions to improve its position on each channel, including:
This proactive approach is helping hoteliers take control of their presence and reach their sales and marketing objectives.
The payoff: Higher overall visibility, less dependence on any one source, and the opportunity to minimize commission payouts by driving bookings through channel partners that charge lower fees.
Revenue strategy #3: Increasing on-site conversions
The big idea: 95-97% of visitors leave the average hotel website without buying anything. In most the hotels we’ve worked with, the #1 reason visitors leave a hotel website is to check what other consumers are saying — often in the form of online reviews. When a visitor goes to check online reviews elsewhere, it is likely they will then book that hotel through a distribution partner — which of course costs the hotel a commission payment. But it’s also highly likely these visitors will be lost completely: 40% of consumers that leave hotel websites to validate their decision with other reviews actually end up booking a room at another hotel.
This loss in direct bookings could be prevented if there was a way to keep people on the site, and increase their confidence in making that reservation.
How hotels are using this to make more money: Hotels like The Mirror are using ReviewPro’s review publishing feature to share review highlights from more than 100 review sites and OTAs on their own website. They are also using the ReviewPro Quality Seal to display the Global Review IndexTM — a benchmark guest satisfaction score across all of these review sites.
The concept behind this is very simple: It is all about giving your customers the ability to share their experience with the people considering booking a room at your property. This creates an honest impression of what your hotel is like, building trust and creating higher guest satisfaction overall. If your team is actively working to exceed expectations, you’ll often find your happy guests will act like salespeople for your hotel.
The payoff: More direct bookings – saving commission fees from 3rd-party distribution channels. Bookings made directly through your website also enable more control over the customer experience – additional details can be collected to create customized communication and service, leading to higher loyalty and more repeat bookings.
Start testing these strategies today
Community management and engagement on social networks is important. Don’t give that up. But when it comes to leveraging the social web to increase revenue in a measurable way, tap into the power of the three strategies mentioned above.
If you’re not using online customer review analytics and trend reports as part of your revenue management program, you’re leaving money on the table.
The big question is: How well are you using these three strategies?
About Josiah Mackenzie
Josiah Mackenzie is publisher of Hotel Marketing Strategies - helping 17,000 hoteliers worldwide use technology for better service, and is an industry analyst for ReviewPro - a customer intelligence tool for the social web: http://www.reviewpro.com
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