35 – Leveraging User-Generated Content for Hotels

by | October 16, 2019 | Suite Spot: Hotel Marketing Podcast

In this episode of Suite Spot, Ryan Embree discusses the importance of user-generated content in the hotel industry. Ryan shares where to locate user-generated content about your hotel online and how to leverage that information to better your business. He provides best practices on how to find issues shared in user-generated content like reviews and social media posts, and tips on how to fix the issues. Ryan also demonstrates how TMG OneView can help hoteliers easily consolidate all the user-generated content online about their hotels.

If you have any questions about user-generated content or how Travel Media Group can help your hotel, reach out to us by either calling or texting us at 407-984-7455 or email us at info@travelmediagroup.com.

Episode Transcript
Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Ryan Embree: Welcome to Suite Spot where hoteliers check in and we check out what's trending in hotel marketing. I'm your host, Ryan Embree.

Ryan Embree: Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of the Suite Spot I am your host, Ryan Embree. Thank you for listening today, we've got a great episode. Today we're going to talk about something that is very prevalent in the hotel industry. I know that we talk about it all the time to our hotel partners and that is user generated content or UGC. User generated content is defined as any form of content such as images, videos, text, and audio that has been posted by users. So in the hotel industry that would be our guests, our travelers - platforms like review sites, social media platforms, this is where our guests are posting that sort of content. And in the hotel industry we're really starting to see the evolution of user generated content and where it fits into the decision making process when travelers are doing their research. We're starting to see a blend of both social media and review sites.

Ryan Embree: So today you can leave reviews on social media sites like Facebook and do those recommendations, but you could also create a personal profile on review sites like TripAdvisor. So again, this user generated content is starting to blend more and more. And the good news is that there's more content than ever before out there about your hotel online, but it's bad news if you don't know what to do with that. So in this episode, what we're going to look at is really how you can leverage that user generated content to navigate any sort of potential pitfalls or problems that you can uncover at your property and really capitalize on any opportunities that you can really mine from this data out there. So where can you find the data you need to identify potential pitfalls or even take advantage of those revenue opportunities? And that's everywhere. Reviews, social media, all of that user generated content.

Ryan Embree: Now you would think with guest reviews, it's easy to identify those pitfalls and problems, right? Because that's exactly what a review is. It's telling you what you're doing right and what is wrong with your hotel. Now that's true in some ways, but let's walk through this story. A traveler checks into your hotel. They're extremely tired from a long drive and just want to to sleep, right? We've come across those guests all the time. They just want a place to rest their head after a long day. At home this guest prefers a harder than normal mattress to support their back, especially after being in a car all day driving. Now this guest happens unfortunately to be next to some very loud neighbors, but instead of calling the front desk, they stay in their room getting more and more upset with each hour that passes. The next day after checkout, this guest leaves a one star review about your property, complaining about the softness of the mattress and the noise that kept them up all night.

Ryan Embree: Now ask yourself this, "How much of that falls on the hotelier?" "Is that review a true indictment of what is really wrong or a problem at your hotel?" Just because one guest doesn't prefer the softness of your hotel's mattress and this guest just happened to get stuck next to a family that was really loud and they didn't contact you at the front desk to solve that issue. So yes, we can find maybe potential pitfalls or problems in reviews, but it sometimes can be difficult to decipher the true problems that exist. So how do you do that, right? The key is to look for patterns and trends, which can be extremely difficult to do if you're simply responding once a week or you're responding to dozen reviews at one sitting. Guests are not afraid to speak their minds, we know this and sometimes they have a lot on their mind. We've seen online reviews that we respond to at Travel Media Group that are sometimes multiple paragraphs long. So how do you sift through all of that feedback to make sure you get the data that you need for your property?

Ryan Embree: Now for us at Travel Media Group and our response team, our respond and resolve solution uses 40 plus different tags to identify what the guest is talking about within the review, so those tags could include breakfast, sleep quality, cleanliness. From there we mark that tag and we mark it either as positive, neutral or negative sentiment. Now 40 plus tags is a lot and that's why we have an entire team here. But if you're just getting started, I suggest identifying maybe some tags of your own. Start by maybe looking for tags that you believe might be potential issues at your hotel, whether it's cleanliness or customer service. You might be surprised when you through those reviews and find that those tags are really not being mentioned as much as you think or you could uncover another common issue that you didn't see before hidden and all that guest feedback.

Ryan Embree: Again, mining all of that data to really get the content that is actually going to be helpful for your property. Now can you use this data to only uncover problems or issues? And the answer is no, as much as problems and issues need to be solved and found within those reviews, we also need to uncover what guests love about your hotel and what's bringing you business. From there once you find those aspects and features of your property that people love, you can leverage those features like location, your superior customer service, or your breakfast that people are raving about and you can use and market those features on places like social media, your hotel's website, and even review response. So review response, how would you leverage, you know, something that people love about your property on review response? Well, let's talk about this.

Ryan Embree: And really all of this stems from, is from Google, which made a huge announcement recently about how review response is now impacting where businesses rank on organic searches. So let's say for example, after tagging your reviews, right, you uncover that travelers are absolutely loving your breakfast by mentioning the keyword breakfast in your response to reviews. Google is likely do associate your hotel when travelers do a Google search like "hotels with breakfast" in your area. You want to find the things that travelers love about your property and you want to be sure to mention it back to them and other travelers when you're writing these responses and that's what our team does a great job of. Now keep in mind however this works both ways. If someone in a review mentions a dirty room, avoid responding with phrases reiterating that phrase. So for example, you know, you could respond to that traveler by saying our team checked the room and it was not dirty. So our review response team would come and respond to that review by saying something like our team thoroughly checked that room and found out that it was clean. Again, associating it positively so you get those keywords moving on up in organic ranking.

Ryan Embree: So let's continue with social media, right, because we know that that's a huge part of user generated content as well. And almost every platform out there, social media platform, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, they offer sort of analytics and data. So what are really the different ways that you can translate that data in order to leverage it, just like we're doing with the reviews? Well, the first is demographics. Demographics can be key indicators on who is following your page and what posts might resonate better with them. It can also highlight spaces that you are missing in your marketing mix. For example, if you're getting low engagement on posts about specials or discounts for families like, kids breakfast is included or local family attraction packages that you're promoting that might uncover a new market segment to target moving forward or you can choose to focus more time and attention to the travelers that are already filling your rooms, for example business travelers or groups. Facebook analytics and social media data can actually give you some further more granular insight into the individual posts and checking on statistics like impressions, likes, shares on a particular post can really show you a path for future success when posting.

Ryan Embree: For example, instead of posting about a local concert in your area and promoting that, why don't you ask your followers to engage in that post to name their favorite song of the band that's going to be performing in that concert locally? Get to know your followers and what type of content they are more likely to engage with. A leisure family might not be interested in knowing about the meeting space that you offer at your property, but that might be highly appealing to a meeting planner for large corporate groups. So once you've identified posts that your social media audience are more likely to engage with, you can then take posts to the next level by applying ad spend, which is a critical part of our social media solution at Travel Media Group, which furthers the posts audience and eventually reach.

Ryan Embree: So I think the biggest pitfall hoteliers can identify from using the data on social media is where they're spending their time. We know that time is one of the greatest commodities for hoteliers and by using their social media accounts and demographics and diving into the analytics, you can find where your time is best being served, whether that's trying to market to a new segment or capitalizing further on an already existing segment.

Ryan Embree: And another great thing about social media for hoteliers is - yes, you have to put a lot of the content out there, but the users are also putting a lot of content out there. So when they're taking photos of your property or around your property and tagging you, make sure that you're looking for that. You can leverage that photo or video, just like you can leverage a review for your property on TripAdvisor or another booking review site. And by re-sharing, liking or engaging in that post of that traveler, it's going to get other travelers excited about your property, seeing that you're engaging with them and that's going to make them more likely to book just like a review would influence another traveler booking there. So as we wrap up with user generated content, you know one thing we do know about it is that it's not slowing down.

Ryan Embree: More and more reviews are being posted online. More and more comments likes, shares. That's why we've created OneView and I know we've talked a lot about one view on this podcast or if you've listened to some of our webinars, but really this is a way to get all of that feedback into one consolidated space for you. Because there's so many places that travelers are trying to message you and communicate in different forms of communication that it can be very overwhelming if you don't have a space to organize that. So get with your team, come up with a strategy and make sure that this user generated content is not just piling up. There is some important data out there for your property that can be easily leveraged with the right tools. I know something else when it comes to user generated content and we talk about this generation or travelers that are messaging us or trying to communicate with us through this content is the timeliness.

Ryan Embree: We've seen review response go from almost an added extra to now it's an expectation for these hoteliers to be responding, not just eventually, but right now. Guests patience for hotelier response or you know, a response to a Facebook message now could happen in five minutes. So you have to constantly be on these sites monitoring, you know, when travelers are trying to communicate with you because it could be costing you business. That could be somebody reaching out, asking about availability or it could be someone with an issue, that needs resolution right then right there. So again, having a tool to really get all of this in a consolidated space is going to help. So if you're interested in learning more about OneView and how to really take a hold of all this user generated content for your property, you know, reach out to us. If you have any questions you know about what's on the horizon for user generated content, social media, review response, that is our specialty. You can reach us at 407 984 7455 or find us more information about us on our website at travelmediagroup.com this is Ryan Embree signing off. Thank you again for listening to another episode of the Suite Spot. To join our loyalty program be sure to subscribe and give us a five star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group, our editor is Anne Sandoval with cover art by Bary Gordon. I'm your host, Ryan Embree and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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