Marriott unique in decision to exclude reviews
 
Marriott unique in decision to exclude reviews
17 DECEMBER 2012 8:53 AM

Marriott International is one of a shrinking number of major chains that does not include guest reviews on its brand websites, an executive said before HSMAI’s Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable.

Editor’s note: HotelNewsNow.com was invited to Washington, D.C., to conduct a private roundtable prior to HSMAI’s inaugural Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable. Present were six digital marketing thought leaders—four brand representatives and two consultants. During the 45-minute discussion, top executives shared their best practices, challenges and perceived opportunities in the digital marketing space.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Marriott International is one of a shrinking number of major chains that do not list consumer reviews on its brand websites.

While representatives from La Quinta Inns & Suites, Wyndham Hotel Group and Best Western International chose to include reviews to keep consumers from seeking such feedback on sites such as TripAdvisor—which they consider a competitor—Marriott has chosen to go in a different direction, attempting to avoid the potential for a negative review that could dissuade a potential guest.

The two consultants predicted that in the near future hoteliers will trust social media and user-generated feedback enough that will rely on it to replace legacy guest satisfaction programs.

“We look at whether or not we need to have reviews on the website—whether that’s a net plus or net negative. And at this point, we pretty much decided not to have reviews. We can revisit that again shortly, and we may decide to include them. But so far we have very deliberately looked at putting reviews on the site and decided against it.

“The reason for us really was that one negative out of 19 or 20 positives—that really affects the perception of the customer. And I think, in our case, we feel we have very good perception to start with, and that one negative review can have a damaging impact instead of the 19 that are not.”

 

“We actually have user-provided reviews on our site since last summer/spring of 2012. It was something we wanted to do for a couple years, and we finally got the critical mass in terms of social media acceptance and hotels having a better understanding of the values of those channels. And we certainly know from a consumer value they appreciate that. We also know from watching traffic we have a lot of those who were going to TripAdvisor anyway, a competing website, going to TripAdvisor to understand what was being said about the hotels so it made sense to try to jumpstart that and try to make them stay on the site. So we’ve had good results from it.

“We’ve also had (hoteliers) paying more attention to what the reviews are saying about their hotels, what the ratings look like, and so they take a more measured approach in how they respond to those reviews. So I think that learning and education process has been very strong for hotels, but we’ve certainly had some good consumer feedback on what we’ve done.”

 

“We’ve decided to not only take it onto the website—ratings and reviews—we specifically picked TripAdvisor as a partner. We actually have launched a product to our franchisees and owners called WynReviews, which is a combination of TripAdvisor ratings and reviews, which we are publishing on our websites and mobile sites …

“That’s been so successful that we actually made that the core to our guest (satisfaction) program, so we no longer use the sort of legacy guest satisfaction program. For us, it’s a really fascinating debate in the hotel industry. … Our (approach) is, ‘Let’s embrace it and try to get on top of it and give hotels the tools and allow them the opportunity to really embrace it and see the improvement.’”

 

“We too have partnered with TripAdvisor and just launched this fall; we had a lot of concerns from our member hotels as far as that negative review and the negative impact on the hotel as well as returning that in the search process because then perhaps the guest might choose another one. …

“What we have found out through our beta digital program, working with members—properties directly—we have a two-thirds increase of those properties that actually respond to that negative review. And what we found through our educational process with them, if they respond and respond accordingly, and then they can also use that to sell a positive message.”

 

“My clients who are doing things like that absolutely see the more positive reviews they get on TripAdvisor, the greater conversion rates they’re seeing, the more revenue they’re seeing, the greater response they’re seeing from guests on guest satisfaction surveys and the like, so it tends to be a win all the way around both for the hotel and the future guest. …

“Obviously that hotel response is playing a key role as well, not just for the guest who stayed and posted the review but for the next guest as well. And that has a huge impact on actually driving more revenue and more business for the hotel.”

 

“The customer satisfaction numbers—the social media—will reach a critical mass. As Wyndham has already decided to replace (its) customer satisfaction, I think (Wyndham will) have a diverse enough base of participants to actually switch over and use social commentary as the primary source of feedback from guests. It’s not that way in every market and it’s not across the board yet, but it’s growing to the point where it will become a diverse enough pool of people to give you good feedback in many areas. And then you can do ad hoc research if you want to focus in on specific operational questions or specific products.”

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