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Customer Expectations Differ By Culture in Hospitality

Medallia: Customer Feedback

Over the last decade, social media reviews have gone from being a minor element of brand monitoring to a significant indicator of how consumers perceive a brand and whether they will stay loyal to them. This is especially true in the hospitality industry, where restaurant, hotel and travel reviews have the power to make or break a business overnight.
In 2017, Medallia conducted a study of 141 million hotel social reviews from 20 global review sites covering more than 125,000 hotels across 191 countries, since the beginning of the decade hotel social reviews have grown 20X. Taking into consideration that in the past 10 years many new online review sites have emerged globally, it’s no wonder that we are seeing unsurpassed growth in online reviews in emerging markets.
When evaluating reviews, we are seeing different customer expectations by geography and culture. More specifically, the strength of a customer relationship is strongly influenced by prevailing cultural expectations around factors like authenticity, timeliness and respect. For this reason, companies face a wide variety of customer expectations in different geographical and cultural contexts.
Certain language social reviews, such as Chinese, Spanish, and Russian, are consistently higher compared to English, while Arabic, Japanese, German, and French language social reviews are consistently lower. Digging deeper, the study found that English and Russian-language reviews are more likely to have extreme scores, while Japanese, Dutch, German, Arabic, and French-language reviews tend to have mid-scale scores. Further more, when talking positively about US hotel staff, different language speakers value different attributes:

  • English-language reviewers frequently use the word “smile” and “friendly”
  • Spanish-language reviewers use “smile” and  “attentive”
  • French-language reviewers use “attentive” and “listening”
  • Italian-language reviewers use “kind”

As you can see, there are many more factors that go into a positive social review than fluffed pillows and clean towels. Companies that use online reviews as a source of feedback are 15 percentage points more likely to improve their customer experience and 12 percentage points more likely to grow their revenue than companies that do not, according to recent research from  Medallia and Accenture. And with hotel social reviews only growing, there is no time like the present to connect with your customer.

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