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Published May 2nd 2014

Why Glossy Travel Brochures Are So 1999

You may tell your hotel if you prefer a twin bed to a shared bed or if you’d rather take a bath than a shower.

Some things, however, like the fact that you prefer the bubble bath to the bath salts or that you can’t stand the choccies on your pillow, you might not.

But lately, hotels have a way of knowing your preferences, even when you haven’t spoken to them. Their secret? Social media data, of course.

This month we did some digging into the ways companies are using social data to get ahead in the hospitality industry. Our research revealed that each year, the percentage of travelers researching their excursions online before leaving is growing steadily.
Researcb before travel -BW with WM
On average, travelers read 6 to 12 reviews before making their accommodation decisions.

Download the full report

In today’s digital market, accommodation and holiday destinations need to be vouched for by peers for it to have any credibility.

In fact, customers are more willing to trust online reviews from an unbiased patron than a hotel’s official presentation from these establishments.

It just goes to show there’s a lack of trust and a serious hunger for transparency.


Some companies can’t bear listening to these starving customers.

Transparency-first businesses Airbnb and Couchsurfing have done for vacation homes what Zipcar and Lyft have done for cars and Spotify and Pandora have done for music: replacing ownership with access.

TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google’s aggregations have quickly grown into a major benchmark for advice and unvarnished opinions in the accommodation industry.

Many travelers who once stayed with the generally reliable big brands have overcome their fears and discomfort from being in a new place.

Eventually, this transparency-driven ecosystem will funnel more revenue to hosts that are treating their guests well.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean accommodation businesses need to be voiceless online. Review sites and social channels can be just as much a resource for companies as they are for travelers.

pagetype hotels - BW with WM

By listening to online brand conversation, hotel reservations website LateRooms noticed a significant growth in brand chatter on forums.

One particular medium-profile forum, Blonde Poker, allowed LateRooms to capture the business of traveling poker fans.

Using social listening tools, Hilton Hotels are able to identify potential guests. They analyze tweets and comments that indicate people’s request for information in cities where Hilton’s hotels are based. Those queries are then channeled to local staff.

Hyatt Hotels was one of the first to launch a concierge with a Twitter feed.

Instead of making a stop at the concierge desk to collect glossy brochures, guests have a 24/7 place to ask questions and view recommendations from previous guests.

ITC Hotels uses a real-time monitoring tool and four levels of criticality to classify each review according to impact and importance. Their TripAdvisor positive ratio improved as a results from 1,032:221 to 1,530:295 over the past year.

These are just a few examples of how granular listening helped companies to genuinely understand why customers are chatting about them online.

No matter how famous your brand name is, you are only ever as good as your customers think you are.

So the only way to boost your reputation is by monitoring what your customers say, listen to their comments, complaints and praises and learn from it.

For it is often attention to small things that can turn a displeased customer into a loyal guest.

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