Jonathan Sockell

BWLogoThe other day I visited Michael Morton from Best Western to help train their regional sales managers (RSMs), who are responsible for ensuring consistent quality across Best Western’s 4,100 hotel locations. The RSM’s top priority was social media. Why?  More than 35% of travelers who’ve already booked a room change their choice of hotel after browsing review sites like TripAdvisor. And 72% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when deciding where to stay.
So I spoke about social media: the financial impact of review scores on revenue, the trend toward more hotel booking decisions being made online, the new (social) ways guests offer feedback to hotels, and how to close the loop with customers – fans and naysayers alike – online. See Sam Keninger’s posting: Social Feedback Affects Revenues…We Can Even Prove It… for more great data on the subject.
Later I chatted with Michael about social media feedback and two themes emerged:
1. Social media is the new reality
In the hotel industry, survey feedback is almost always more positive than review site feedback. That is, what a representative sample of actual guests say in private (surveys) is more positive than what a non-representative sample of probable guests say in public (online review sites). But just because surveys capture “what is” doesn’t make them reality. Social media is so public, it can become the reality of those who haven’t experienced a brand or property yet. Perception IS reality.
2. The frontline should be un-gagged
Hotel locations that actively engage customer social media posts flat out outperform the locations that don’t. Best Western empowered it’s frontline, the hotel operators, to monitor social media using Medallia.
Hotels now compare review site scores (from TripAdvisor, etc.) to survey scores and take action when the gaps are large. The result? These hotels proactively control a public reality that directly affects their revenue.

Photo credit: Bruno Cordioli